How to Properly Uninstall a WordPress Plugin

Do you want to remove WordPress plugins from your website but don’t know how to get started?

As your site grows over time, you’ll have many plugins on your site that you don’t need anymore. It’s important that you delete those plugins and improve your site’s performance.

In this article, we will show you how to properly uninstall a WordPress plugin.

Uninstall a WordPress Plugin

Why You Need to Uninstall a WordPress Plugin?

There are thousands of WordPress plugins available, and you can easily install any WordPress plugin on your site. However, it is also vital that you uninstall any WordPress plugins that you don’t want to use.

WordPress plugins are like apps that you can run on your site. This gives them enormous control of your site. While plugin authors do their best to keep the plugins secure and safe, vulnerabilities can occur occasionally.

This means that any plugin that you are not using on your site can be a potential liability. Especially if you don’t update them which can lead to security threats.

Keeping unnecessary files on your site also increases your WordPress backup size, and it will take more time for you to download or restore a backup.

Of course, you can install as many WordPress plugins as you need. However, if you are not using a plugin, then we believe that you should uninstall it properly.

Difference Between Deactivating and Uninstalling a WordPress Plugin

Deactivating a plugin is like shutting them down when not in use. Many users fall into the habit of simply going to a plugins page and deactivating plugins that they don’t want to use.

Deactivating a plugin without permanently deleting it is very handy for debugging and bug fixes because it keeps your settings and configuration in place should you reactivate.

However, often users end up finding a different solution and never using the plugin again.

A deactivated WordPress plugin can still make your site vulnerable because it can still be used to run malicious code on your site.

That’s why we always recommend that you should only deactivate plugins when you want to disable them temporarily. If you do not intend to activate it any time soon, then it is better to uninstall the plugin.

By properly uninstalling the plugin, you also keep your database clean from junk data that plugins often leave behind. This helps improve your site’s performance as your database won’t be bloated with unnecessary data.

That being said, let’s take a look at how you can remove a plugin from your WordPress website.

How to Uninstall a WordPress Plugin

WordPress makes it super easy to uninstall plugins from the admin area. Simply login to your WordPress dashboard and go to the Plugins » Installed Plugins page.

You will see the list of currently installed plugins on your site. Active plugins are highlighted with blue background color and have a link to Deactivate them.

On the other hand, inactive plugins have a link to Activate or Delete them from your site. To uninstall a plugin, go ahead and click on the ‘Delete’ link below the plugin name.

WordPress will now ask you to confirm that you want to delete the plugin and its data. You can simply click the ‘OK’ button to continue.

WordPress will now safely remove plugins from your web server. That’s all, you have successfully uninstalled a plugin from your WordPress site.

There are more steps that you can take to remove all traces of the plugin. However, these steps are optional and not recommended for absolute beginners.

Removing Extra Files Added by a WordPress Plugin

In most cases, simply deleting a WordPress plugin will uninstall it completely. However, some plugins store files outside of the plugins folder. Those files will not be deleted when you uninstall the plugin.

You can check and delete files stored by the plugin using your WordPress hosting file manager, or a FTP client. Simply connect to your website using FTP, and then go to /wp-content/ folder.

Many WordPress backup plugins, gallery plugins, and sliders create and store data directly in the wp-content folder. If you do not have a complete backup of your WordPress site, then you should download these files to your computer as backup.

After that, you can safely delete these files from your server using an FTP client.

Removing Unused Shortcodes in WordPress

Many WordPress plugins use shortcodes to add things into your posts or pages. Once you deactivate or uninstall a plugin, those shortcodes will become visible in your posts, and they look quite ugly.

Here’s what a shortcode would look like in your content:


You can easily disable shortcodes by adding this code in your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific WordPress plugin.

add_shortcode( 'pluginshortcode', '__return_false' );

This code adds the shortcode back and makes it display nothing. Don’t forget to replace pluginshortcode with the shortcode tag used by the plugin you want to remove.

It is important to note that you will need to remove this code if you ever decide to use that plugin again.

For more detailed instructions, see our guide on how to find and remove unused shortcodes from WordPress posts.

Cleaning Up WordPress Database

Some WordPress plugins create their own tables in the WordPress database. If these tables have too much data in them, then that would increase your WordPress backup size.

You can delete those tables using phpMyadmin. However, we must warn you that you should be very careful about making any changes to the WordPress database.

The slightest mistake while making changes to your site’s database can break your website. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you have a complete WordPress backup before you perform any action.

All of our recommended WordPress hosting providers offer cPanel with phpMyAdmin.

Go ahead and log in to your cPanel account and then scroll down to the database section. Next, you can click on the ‘phpMyAdmin’ icon.

After that, you’ll need to click on your database and select the tables you want to delete. Once you’ve chosen the tables, simply click the ‘Drop’ option to remove them.

You will now see a warning that you are about to delete these tables. You need to click on the ‘OK’ button to confirm the action.

phpMyAdmin will now drop the tables and will delete all data in those tables. Please note that this action is irreversible because once you’ve deleted the tables, you will not be able to restore them unless you have a backup.

For more details, you may want to check out our beginner’s guide to WordPress database management with phpMyAdmin.

We hope this article helped you learn how to properly uninstall a WordPress plugin. 

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