Plugins are one of the best things in WordPress, and undoubtedly one of the top reasons it’s so popular. The “there’s a plugin for everything” phrase is not a joke. With a bit of effort, you can find a plugin for anything. WordPress repository alone hosts more than 46 thousand plugins. Unfortunately, many have been neglected by their authors and not updated for more than two years.
The situation has gotten to the point that the repository had to put a special banner on those plugins, notifying users they are old, and not updated for over two years. That fact by itself does not mean those plugins are bad, buggy, or problematic but WordPress is continuously evolving, and a plugin that hasn’t been updated for so long is probably not 100% compatible with the latest version of WordPress. To make matters worse over 22 thousand, or nearly half of plugins are now marked as outdated in the repository.
Should I avoid outdated plugins!?
As with most things in life, generalizing is not a good thing. That question has to be answered on a per-plugin basis. However, one thing is obvious. If you are choosing between two similar plugins – go for the one that more frequently updated.
It’s also wise to check if the plugin has any known security issues, and avoid it if it does. When you install an outdated plugin be extra careful and double-check all it’s features to make sure nothing got broken on your site.
How to tell if a plugin is old or not compatible with my version of WordPress?
It’s easy. If you’re installing plugins directly from the WP repository you’ll find all the data in the right-hand sidebar on the plugin’s page. For instance, Limit Login Attempts has the yellow banner on top we already mentioned that clearly states it hasn’t been updated in over 2 years. If you look at the meta-info on the right, you’ll see that info again – “Last Updated: 4 years ago“. And as expected it is “Compatible up to: 3.3.2” and the current WP version is 4.6. Please note that the compatibility info is something that the author claims. That may or may not be true.
If you’re installing plugins directly from the WP admin dashboard the data is available below each plugins thumbnail. Searching for “facebook” will return the outdated Facebook plugin as the first result and right below it is the info you need: “Last Updated: 3 years ago” and the info about compatibility: “Untested with your version of WordPress“.
Things could (and should) be better
A new major version of WordPress comes out every 4 months – in April, August and December. However, the number below show that only 20% of plugins have been updated in the last 4 months. That means barely one in every five plugins keeps up with the WP core and checks to see if it’s compatible with the latest release.
Most popular outdated plugins
|Plugin Name||Active Installations||Last Updated|
|Limit Login Attempts||1+ million||5 years ago|
|Exclude Pages||200,000+||5 years ago|
|200,000+||4 years ago|
|Rus-To-Lat||200,000+||5 years ago|
|SEO Friendly Images||200,000+||3 years ago|
|WP No Category Base||200,000+||5 years ago|
|Acunetix WP Security||100,000+||2 years ago|
|AJAX Thumbnail Rebuild||100,000+||3 years ago|
|Category Order||100,000+||9 years ago|
|Cyr to Lat enhanced||100,000+||3 years ago|
|Exec-PHP||100,000+||8 years ago|
|Link Manager||100,000+||5 years ago|
|MCE Table Buttons||100,000+||3 years ago|
|P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)||100,000+||2 years ago|
|Platinum SEO Pack||100,000+||4 years ago|
|Post-Plugin Library||100,000+||9 years ago|
|Quick Adsense||100,000+||4 years ago|
|Title Remover||100,000+||3 years ago|
|Ultimate TinyMCE||100,000+||3 years ago|
|WordPress Firewall 2||100,000+||7 years ago|