As a WordPress site owner, have you considered using nulled WordPress plugins and themes on your website? Or are you currently using a nulled WordPress plugin or theme on your WordPress site right now?
If you’re not familiar with nulled WordPress plugins and themes, they’re pirated copies of the premium WordPress products that other users pay for.
In this guide, we’ll talk about all the reasons why it’s important to avoid nulled WordPress plugins and themes. And if you’re serious about your website, you’ll soon see what we mean.
Of course, we’re all looking to save money and cut financial corners wherever we can. This is especially true if you’re running a WordPress site that doesn’t generate a lot of revenue.
And wouldn’t it be amazing if you could get all the features and benefits of a premium WordPress plugin or theme without paying a dime for it?
But as the old saying goes: If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
What are Nulled WordPress Plugins and Themes?
As mentioned in the intro a nulled WordPress plugin and theme is a pirated copy of a premium WordPress plugin or theme that has been unethically distributed on the Internet.
Your first instinct is to think that the practice of copying or pirating these themes and plugins is illegal. The truth is that it’s not.
In fact, the people who distribute nulled plugins and themes state the following case about why they do what they do:
“Because WordPress and the derivative works from WordPress, like themes and plugins, are licensed under GPL (General Public License), it’s completely acceptable to copy and distribute any premium plugin or theme that they choose. ” – The Pirates
And while that certainly is, at times, legally true (more on that in a bit), the practice comes with way more negatives than it does positives.
For example, it causes upstanding WordPress developers to lose a lot of money from sales they would have otherwise made on their plugins and themes.
Many hours and resources go into the creation and support of a premium WordPress plugin or theme. The people doing the actual work to create the end product should, in theory, be the ones rewarded for all of their hard work.Reward the people who invest hours and resources into the creation and support of premium WordPress plugins and themes.
But beyond the moral issue of nulled WordPress plugins and themes are the security issues they present. Almost every nulled plugin or theme you use is going to come with vulnerabilities that compromise the integrity and security of your website.
While you may enjoy the benefits of getting a premium theme free of charge for a short period of time, chances are your nulled product will be the exact reason your WordPress site gets hacked by a malicious attacker.
And if your WordPress site is important to you, you know that the last thing you want to deal with is a hack. Hacks have the potential of:
- Filling your site with unwanted spam
- Taking control over your site while locking you out
- Stealing sensitive data
- Taking your site completely down
- Ruining the reputation of your brand
- Costing thousands of dollars in lost revenue
- Adding your site into a botnet
- Getting your site blacklisted
- Ruining SEO
- And more
Of course, a hack is every serious WordPress site owner’s worst nightmare. And it can happen in the blink of an eye if you’re choosing to run nulled WordPress plugins and themes on your site.
Top Reasons to Avoid Nulled WordPress Plugins and Themes
1. You Value Website Security
Nulled WordPress products are incredibly dangerous for your WordPress security protocols. Beyond the vulnerabilities that are built into them, they are also very well-known for carrying their own malware.
If you load one of these nulled products on your site, this malicious malware code can immediately begin to spread to different files and disguise itself. This makes it difficult to detect and fix the exact point of the breach.
There’s a good possibility that if you’re not protected, you could lose all of your site data while the breach takes hold. If that happens, you’ll wish you were running the BackupBuddy plugin.
But beyond that, Google and other search engines may then choose to delist your website from search results because it actively distributed malware.
2. You Value Website Privacy
It’s impossible to know the types of malicious code that are hidden inside the files of nulled WordPress themes and plugins. The reality is that its sort of a Russian Roulette of security issues.
If you value data privacy, you should never consider using a nulled WordPress product.
Some of the malicious code hidden in these files will include types that steal critical information from your site and make it available to others throughout the dark web.
The information at risk will include things like you:
- Admin username (and other usernames on the site)
- Admin password (and other passwords on the site)
- Email addresses
Even worse, if your site is a membership website or an online store, all of the personal information of your customers will be at risk. This could include physical addresses, phone numbers, or even credit card/bank information.As a responsible WordPress site owner, it wouldn’t make sense to risk the privacy of your customers in order to save a few dollars on a premium theme or plugin license.
Privacy breaches are often difficult to detect. They can go unnoticed for long periods of time while your site keeps functioning as it should.
That’s why privacy breaches work.
3. You’ve Worked Hard on SEO
When you download and install a pirated WordPress theme or plugin on your site, you run the risk of completely destroying all the work you’ve put into your SEO game.
This is because a nulled product will often add unwanted hidden spam links to your articles, posts, and pages that you can’t get rid of without a lot of effort. These hidden spam links hijack your users and send them to bad sites that you would have never intended.
Unfortunately, they’re difficult for the site administrator to detect because the links are carefully hidden within the code. In other words, if you’re logged into your WordPress admin account, the links likely won’t redirect you, as the admin. Only your users will be getting these spam redirects, and you’ll be blind to it.
Because of the low quality of sites that your site is now pointing to in this scenario, search engines will quickly take note and penalize you. This means that you’ll severely drop in search rankings.
In many cases, Google will de-index your site completely. This will result in months of your time and effort if you hope to recover your site’s SEO rankings.
If the damage is bad enough, you might need to start a new website from the ground up.
4. You Don’t Want Legal Issues
A lot of popular WordPress plugins and themes are 100% open source. However, others are sold with mixed licenses.
A mixed license means that there are parts of the product’s code that are protected by copyright laws. Therefore, WordPress site owners that chose to use nulled WordPress plugins and themes don’t have legal permission to use the software.
Plugins and themes that contain copyrighted code can only be used with the purchase of a license from the software developer.
What’s more, using these pirated WordPress plugins and themes can lead to further issues such as:
- Theft of data
- Loss of data
- Unauthorized distribution of illegal materials
Any one of these issues could lead you directly into a mess of legal proceedings that will require thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees.
It doesn’t sound like the risk of using nulled WordPress products is worth the reward.
5. You Need Access To Product Updates
Any WordPress plugin or theme worth it’s salt will routinely put out bug fixes and release updates that add new useful features and shore up newly discovered security issues.
Nulled themes and plugins, however, have no way of receiving these updates from the publishers because they aren’t using a valid license key.
By having only one theme or plugin not fully updated on your site, you leave your entire WordPress site vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks. You will also likely experience bugs and SSL insecurities when you run these nulled products.
As you likely know, WordPress core also regularly releases new, updated versions of its software. Most often, the plugins and themes you’re using also need to be updated at these times to remain compatible with the latest WordPress changes.
The problem with a nulled plugin or theme is that there is no way to update it. When WordPress core runs an update, your entire site may begin misbehaving.
It may even become completely inaccessible.
6. You Require Documentation and Product Support
Maybe you think you can Google your way into figuring out how to use a pirated theme or plugin and don’t need any of the documentation or support of the product developer.
If you’ve ever actually tried doing it, you’ll know that it’s not recommended.
In fact, even the most experienced WordPress website owners often need documentation and personal product support to learn how to best use premium WordPress plugins and themes.
Good WordPress plugin and theme developers put a lot of time and effort into providing personal support and creating detailed documentation for their users to reference. Many will even employ support specialists to answer personal questions.
And of course, don’t forget about the time they put into tutorials and new product demonstrations.
People that decided to go down the nulled WordPress plugin and theme route are immediately on their own.
When they get stuck, there’s no way to reach out to the developer of the product for help. They can’t because they don’t own a license for the product.
There’s also no way to get access to the tutorials and valuable documentation. Those, too, are only available to people who pay for the right to use the product.
7. You Want Access To New Features
As mentioned earlier in the article, WordPress themes and plugins are regularly updated. Often, these updates come with new features that build upon the usefulness of the product.When using nulled WordPress products, you have no way of receiving the updates that the developer puts out.
In fact, you won’t even be alerted that there are new features available on the plugin or theme.
And if you’re not aware of something, you can’t take advantage of it.
Some of the new features that WordPress developers are putting on their products are vastly improving websites and helping site owners make more money. But if you’re not alerted to these key changes, you’ll be living in the land of confusion and stuck with an outdated version.
Often, spending a little money up-front will pay big dividends down the road.
8. You Support and Encourage Innovation
Sure, you could easily argue that the nulled WordPress plugin or theme you’re using is just a minuscule piece of software. You might say that you’re only using it because you want to try the product out before you buy it.
However, the nulled code that runs the software is a direct result of another individual’s talent, skill, dedication, and hard work. And there’s no way to rectify the fact that using a pirated version of the software is taking money away from the people who created the product.
Not only do these skilled developers spend hour upon hour writing code, but they also provide paying customers with support, create training and documentation materials, make a website, employ support staff, and pour a ton of their own money back into their entrepreneurial business.
Using nulled plugins and themes definitely hits them at their bottom line, and many end up losing money on their endeavors.
When this happens, highly skilled developers end up discouraged. Some may slow down, or even stop, creating new and innovative digital products that benefit you and millions of other WordPress users.
9. You Know That There Are Free Alternatives
With all of the free (and trustworthy) plugins and themes available on the WordPress repository, it’s difficult to imagine why anyone would choose to use nulled plugins and themes. No matter which premium plugin or theme has caught your eye, chances are you’ll find many free alternatives that can get the job done for you.
Even the premium theme or plugin you have your eye on probably already has a free version that will help get you started. After trying out the free version, you’ll be able to upgrade to the premium version to unlock all of the features.
For example, if you need:
- Contact Forms: Start out for free with the free version of a plugin called WPForms Lite
- Google Analytics: The free version of MonsterInsights is probably all you’re going to need
- An SEO plugin: A great free option to try out is called All in One SEO for WordPress
- A plugin for giveaways: The free version of RafflePress is a great place to start
- A plugin for popups: OptinMonster will get the job done with its free version
- An SMTP plugin: Take a look at the free version of WP Mail SMTP
When it comes to free WordPress themes, the sky’s the limit. By starting your search in the WordPress theme repository, you’ll immediately have access to thousands of free themes that can fit almost any project imaginable.
And the fact is, some of the free themes are even better than the premium themes you’ll see on the market.
If you’re looking for a free theme with lightning-fast performance, that’s also filled with modern features that will make building websites fun again, check out Kadence Theme.
Don’t want to pay for a premium theme or plugin? Stick to the thousands of free (and legal) versions that are available. They’ll be much more secure than nulled versions, and you won’t be putting your site at such great security risks.
The Importance of WordPress Security
Responsible WordPress site owners know that site security always needs to be at the forefront of doing business. While potential hacks and malicious attacks seem to lurk around every corner, it’s never been more important than now to run a WordPress security plugin like iThemes Security Pro.
Built by WordPress security experts for more than seven years, this is the best WordPress security plugin to protect your site.
After saying goodbye to nulled WordPress Plugins and Themes, it’s time to employ iThemes Security Pro to make sure your site is fully locked down from hackers and malicious attacks.
Kristen has been writing tutorials to help WordPress users since 2011. As marketing director here at iThemes, she’s dedicated to helping you find the best ways to build, manage, and maintain effective WordPress websites. Kristen also enjoys journaling (check out her side project, The Transformation Year!), hiking and camping, step aerobics, cooking, and daily adventures with her family, hoping to live a more present life.