Just like your computer, a WordPress website can get full of clutter as time goes by and it’s important that once in a while you take some time to have a clear out. Removing clutter from WordPress can improve speed, simplify management and remove security vulnerabilities. In addition, if you have limits on your storage capacity, file numbers or database size, decluttering can free up valuable space. To show you how to declutter effectively, here are our five top tips.
Remove unwanted plugins
Deactivated plugins have two effects on your website, they use up valuable storage space and, if they are not kept up-to-date, they post a security risk as any security holes can still be breached whether they are being used or not. For this reason, it is always best to delete them.
To do this, navigate to Plugins in the WordPress dashboard left-hand menu and click on ‘Inactive’.
Once there, click the checkbox on the plugins you want to remove, select the ‘Delete’ option from the drop-down box and click the Apply button.
The plugins will now be deleted.
Delete unused themes
The only themes you need on WordPress are the one you are using and any child version you’ve created to enable customisation. Everything else is just taking up valuable space and, as with plugins, can leave your site vulnerable if you don’t have the latest versions installed. This can be particularly true if you have third-party themes installed which can’t be automatically updated from WordPress and for which you might not receive update notifications.
To remove, do the following:
Navigate to Appearance > Themes. Hover over the image of the theme you want to delete and click on the Theme Details box. When the Theme Details dialogue box opens, you will see a delete link in the bottom right-hand corner. Click on the link and when the confirmation box opens, click OK.
Delete post revisions
If you are one of those people who clicks ‘Save Draft’ after every change and then makes several proofreading updates after publishing, you might be surprised to know that every time you save or update, a new version of the post is stored in your WordPress database. You might have 100 posts on your website, but you might have 1000 versions in your database, 900 of which are just taking up valuable space.
Some web hosts put a limit on database capacity and this is often much smaller than the file storage capacity you have for your WordPress, theme and plugins and media files – sometimes as low as 100MB. By having too many revisions, you can quickly clutter up your database and this can make it sluggish in performance.
There are a number of plugins that you can install to remove old revisions, such as RVG Optimize Database which gives you control over which revisions you may wish to keep. This plugin also optimises the database after deletion, helping it to perform better.
As you can see from the image below, in this example, the plugin managed to remove 6.324 MB from the database, reducing the size by 26%.
Clean up you media library
Every time you upload a new image to your website, WordPress will create at least three different versions of it. This enables you to have images in original (full) size, large, medium and thumbnail. In addition, some themes or plugins can produce extra images of different sizes, for example, if you have a slider or an e-commerce plugin, images sizes can be created to meet their requirements.
What this means is that if you have uploaded 200 images to your media library, it is possible that you actually have over 1000 images stored on your server. If you have an e-commerce site with hundreds of products, each with several images, the numbers of actual images created and stored can run into the tens of thousands very quickly.
One of the problems with e-commerce plugins, in particular, is that when you delete a product, it doesn’t always delete the associated images, so the numbers can soon build up. This can be a serious issue for websites that have a limit on the number of files they can upload and, as image files tend to be large in size, they can quickly fill up your storage capacity too.
The best solution is to use the Image Cleanup plugin. This plugin is good because it will let you find and quarantine images before you delete them. When you quarantine them, you just move them to a temporary folder and this enables you to see if you have mistakenly removed images you really needed. If you have, you can move them back. Once you are happy you haven’t removed any essential images, you can then delete the unnecessary ones and save all that space.
Delete spam comments
The WordPress’ inbuilt comment system is a real magnet for spam commenters and unless you manage your comments effectively, you will end up with lots of pending spam comments cluttering up your database.
Manually removing spam can be an arduous task. Usually, you are limited to about 200 comments at a time for bulk deletion and if you want to check through to see which are spam comments and which are genuine; this can make the process even longer. And the deletion itself can take some time if your server is busy.
A slightly easier method is to use the Delete Pending Comments plugin which will delete all your pending comments in one click. The downside, of course, is that genuine comments will get deleted too unless you work your way through and approve them.
The best method is to activate the Askimet plugin that comes preinstalled with WordPress. This will save you all the work by automatically deleting spam and leaving your genuine comments behind.
To give you an idea of the scale of comment spam with WordPress, take a look at the graph below.
These are the stats for a small, three-year-old blog with just a few thousand visitors per month. In those three years, Askimet has removed more than 400,000 spam comments. That’s about six times more spam comments than the site has had visitors!
The other thing to consider to stop spam comments cluttering your site, is adding a captcha plugin. At its peak, Askimet was filtering 28,000 spam comments a month from this site, once a captcha plugin was added, this quickly reduced to the few hundred you can see today. This is because the vast number of spam comments were posted by bots, not by people.
From reading this article you’ll have a better understanding of how you can declutter your WordPress site by removing unused plugins and themes, superfluous post revisions, unnecessary media files and spam comments.
Getting rid of this unneeded content can make it easier to manage your files, increase available storage and database space and make your site less vulnerable to hackers. It can also have some impact on performance.
If you are a WordPress site owner, see how eUKhost’s dedicated WordPress Hosting can help you.
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