Nulled WordPress plugins and themes are familiar to most associated with WordPress development. But are you aware of the consequences of using these as a cost-cutting measure? If not please read on to see why you must say NO to them if you care about your website.
- What are Nulled Plugins and Themes?
- Why must you avoid Nulled Plugins and Themes in your website?
- 1. Security Compromised
- 2. Legal Issues
- 3. No Developer Support
- 4. No Documentation
- 5. No Updates
- 6. Affects SEO
- 7. Threat to Privacy
- 8. Stealing Credit of the Real Developers
- 9. More Expensive
- 10. Unable to Update WordPress
What are Nulled Plugins and Themes?
Nulled plugins and themes are nothing but pirated copies of premium WordPress plugins and themes distributed unethically on the internet. They are generally from a third-party website and distributed without the knowledge or permission of the original author. They are also referred to as cracked versions or hacked versions. There are many websites offering pirated versions of premium plugins and themes for people to download it for free. But there is no happy ending for those who download these nulled versions.
Why must you avoid Nulled Plugins and Themes in your website?
The distributors behind the nulled versions often claim to be good Samaritans sharing the fruit of their labour with everyone. They claim legal correctness because of GPL License for WordPress and its derivative works. But the fact is Nulled plugins and themes cause worse harm than ethical and legal dilemma.
1. Security Compromised
Before deciding to install a WordPress plugin or theme on your website, you must have a very clear idea about the impact it will have on your website’s security. When you download and install the Nulled plugins and themes, you are lowering the defences of your website and making it vulnerable to hacking.
Nulled plugins and themes may carry malware which cannot be detected very easily. If you are a very experienced developer with ample time on your hands, you can dig through the code and ensure it’s clean.
Otherwise, you will have no idea about the malicious code which can spread across different files, collect confidential information from you and your visitors, affect your site’s performance or just shut down your site.
2. Legal Issues
As mentioned earlier, many of the WordPress plugins and themes are licensed under GPL. But there are still some which are licensed under multiple licenses and are under copyright protection.
Some parts of code of such themes and plugins are protected by copyright laws and when you use Nulled plugins and themes, you are using them without the permission of the copyright holders. This can lead to legal action against you for violation of copyright laws.
Thus the pirated versions may save you some money but you will end up losing your moral character and money in lawsuits which will definitely be more than the cost of a plugin or theme.
3. No Developer Support
Nulled plugins and themes may serve you with all the features of a premium theme or plugin but they fall short when it comes to developer support and documentation. Having a support team available for help is one advantage of using a licensed product. By using nulled versions, you are losing out on professional help in case something goes wrong. Also, there is no option to check the documentation or get updates or new features that are assured by premium products.
Support is available even for free version WordPress themes and plugins but in nulled cases, you are on your own. Moreover, it is the community that is the driving force behind WordPress. When in need of help, all you have to do is post your problem in community forums and there is a chance of you being helped by any of the thousands of WordPress developers across the world. By using the pirated versions, you are literally denying yourself the chance to become a part of the wonderful community.
4. No Documentation
Documentation provides the necessary instructions and guidance to install and use plugins and themes. Even the most experienced developers refer to the documentation before using and customizing a plugin or theme. The documentation is the end result of numerous hours spent by the authors or developers to make the user’s experience smooth and they update it along with every new version release.
Nobody bothers to make documentation for the pirated versions. So if you are using a nulled plugin or theme you are left to fend for yourself with no documentation, tutorial video, developer support or updates. This makes customizing the nulled versions practically unthinkable.
5. No Updates
Nulled WordPress plugins and themes cannot be auto-updated because automatic updates require a license key which the nulled versions lack. So either you have to manually update it or wait for the latest version of the nulled plugins and themes. Manually updating the plugins and themes is time-consuming and you have to keep an eye on updates since you won’t get any notifications. There are chances of you missing an update too thus exposing your website to attacks by hackers. So it’s better if you avoid nulled plugins and themes.
6. Affects SEO
Nulled plugins and themes can wreck your WordPress SEO completely. The malware in the pirated versions add spam links to your website or affect user experience by redirecting the users to harmful websites or showing irritating pop-ups. User experience plays a big part in a website’s SEO ranking. Search engines will sense your website’s poor user experience with all redirects and popups and can either reduce your ranking or de-index your website sending the fruit of your hard labour down the drain. It may take months to restore your website and its ranking.
The worst part is that it is very difficult to detect the redirects because when you log into your website, you will not be redirected giving you a false sense of security. Thus your site will be plagued by spam links and broken links without your knowledge. You can remove the spam links but they can auto-generate on your website. The spam links cannot be removed completely as long as you are using nulled WordPress plugins and themes.
7. Threat to Privacy
Nulled plugins and themes may contain malicious code that can steal information from your WordPress site. Personal information including your username, passwords, email addresses can be leaked. If you have an online store, then the personal and financial information of your clients too are at risk. If you have a blog or news and magazine site, they may collect information and also change your content opening another can of worms. You may lose your credibility and even end up in court for publishing such content. In short, you lose all your privacy along with that of your clients.
It is very challenging to notice such hacks because the WordPress site functions normally under such attacks. Is saving a few bucks really worth it if you are likely to face such issues?
8. Stealing Credit of the Real Developers
Have you ever considered that you are cheating the real authors or developers of plugins and themes when you use nulled plugins and themes? Developing a new plugin or theme demands great talent and effort from the part of developers. After developing it they release it for the public on WordPress.org and make it available for free download. They may also offer a paid pro version. They then offer support and also provide updates. This ensures that they get adequate returns as money and recognition. So when you are using the pirated versions, you are literally robbing someone of their due reward and encouraging the others to keep stealing.
9. More Expensive
Yes, it is true. You may have been tempted by the zero cost claim of nulled plugins and themes into using them. But think again. Firstly, without any developer support or documentation, you will spend more time and effort on installing and using the pirated versions than you would on the genuine product. Customizing it further to suit your needs will again result in losing still more time and effort. Your website may be attacked and information hacked. Your SEO ranking can be destroyed.
To fix these issues, you may end up hiring professionals costing you more money. All these could have been avoided if you could have spared a few dollars to purchase a genuine plugin or theme or a few minutes to download it freely from a reliable source like WordPress.org
10. Unable to Update WordPress
If you are familiar with WordPress, you will know that they release two or three major updates every year. Hundreds of WordPress developers work together to release the new versions with improved security, fewer bugs and better performance. Thus each new version of WordPress is better than the previous version. However, if you are using cracked versions of WordPress plugins or themes, you won’t be able to update your website to the latest version because doing so will cause compatibility issues with the nulled plugins and themes and they may stop working. Or you need to find the latest pirated versions whenever WordPress has an update.
Using out-of-date WordPress versions will leave your WordPress site exposed and prone to attacks. So nulled plugins and themes create another situation leading to your WordPress website getting attacked.
So we hope you have understood that using nulled plugins and themes is dangerous. But there is no reason to panic. WordPress.org repository houses over 58k plugins and 8k themes. You can download and customize them to your heart’s content without any moral guilt and enjoy the support of thousands of WordPress developers.