There are thousands of plugins and themes you can choose from when using WordPress. However, not all of them are free, and some of the top premium options can be quite expensive.
Unfortunately, cost is one of the main reasons people resort to WordPress piracy, and software as a whole. However, pirating WordPress themes and plugins can come back to bite you in several ways. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at how WordPress piracy works, and talk about why you should avoid using pirated themes and plugins (even if you’re on a budget).
Let’s jump right in!
A Look Into the World of Pirated WordPress Themes and Plugins
There are a lot of websites that promote pirated WordPress themes and plugins – usually, they don’t even try to hide it. The platform is so popular there’s a lot of demand for piracy, and there are always people who will capitalize on it.
If you’re a savvy user, recognizing these sites is fairly straightforward. They usually have clear web design issues, and they tend to steal theme and plugin descriptions from other sites. You’ll probably also see a lot of bold Download buttons and links to free shared hosting sites:
You’ll find the same type of sites popping up to distribute pirated movies, TV shows, and software. Each time one gets shut down, another one appears in its place.
As long as there’s demand for piracy, people will continue to distribute ‘cracked’ software because they can benefit from it. For example, a lot of sketchy file hosts will pay uploaders for each person who downloads a file or fills out surveys to get access to them. These types of websites can also make money from ads or worse yet, by distributing malware.
Avoiding pirated WordPress themes and plugins is simple – stick to reputable repositories, such as WordPress.org and ThemeForest. The most popular WordPress themes and plugins also tend to have their own websites, as is the case with Divi and all of our other products. All of those sites – including ours – ensure uploaded files are safe to use and won’t affect your WordPress website in any way.
To be clear, avoiding WordPress piracy isn’t just about protecting developer’s bottom lines. It’s also about securing your website, since pirated software comes with a lot of downsides in this regard.
3 Reasons You Should Avoid Pirated WordPress Themes and Plugins
If you’re a savvy web user, you probably already know why you should avoid pirated software in general. However, you might not be aware how WordPress piracy affects your website. Let’s start by talking about malware.
1. They Can Be Infected With Malware
There are a lot of ways malware can affect your WordPress website. It can, for example, try to infect your visitors, replace content on your pages, and even redirect users to other sites. In worst case scenarios, malware can even lead to search engine warnings telling users not to visit your website. Those types of warnings, as you can imagine, can have a profound impact on your organic traffic, and they can last for up to 30 days.
Pirated WordPress themes and plugins are the perfect delivery method for malware infections. Attackers can hide malicious code throughout the files, and most people will just go ahead and install them on their websites without a second thought. You might save money in the short-term by not paying for a premium license, but the potential negative effects to your site are not worth the exchange.
You could get lucky. However, it’s a significant risk to take in the first place. WordPress.org alone contains thousands of free themes and plugins you can use that are squeaky clean:
It almost doesn’t matter what functionality you’re looking for – we’re willing to bet there’s a free plugin that can help you add it to your website. Sure, there’s probably a premium option with more extensive functionality and features. However, you can always upgrade down the road instead of exposing your website to malware. This way, you ensure your site remains safe, and you get the chance to support your favorite WordPress projects.
2. You Won’t Have Access to Support
A lot of popular WordPress themes and plugins provide you with access to dedicated support teams, especially premium solutions. For example, Elegant Themes has its own support forum where you can ask the team for help if you become stuck:
Most serious WordPress developers also provide you with access to extensive documentation, tutorials, and even direct support should you need it. Needless to say, all of this is possible thanks to theme and plugin sales.
When it comes to you – the end user – this level of support can be essential. If you run a large website where the functionality hinges on a particular theme or plugin, having access to dedicated support is essential. Think about it this way – you probably already pay a monthly fee for hosting. You could host your website on a homespun server if you wanted to, but it’s clear the hassle outweighs the money you might save by doing so.
If you pirate WordPress themes and plugins, the same logic applies. You might save money today, but you’ll be stuck trying to solve any issues that pop up on your own. Paying for a license might be a hit to your wallet, but it’s part of the cost of doing business seriously.
3. You Won’t Be Able to Update Your Plugin or Theme
Some premium WordPress plugins and themes require you to register them before you can access updates. This ensures only paying customers can get access to continued support and improvements to the software.
Divi, for example, requires you to authenticate your Elegant Themes subscription if you want to get access to updates. The process is simple, but if you’re using pirated WordPress software, you’ll probably be locked out of most updates.
It can seem like a minor hassle, but outdated plugins and themes are the biggest culprits when it comes to WordPress vulnerabilities. If you’re not updating your site’s elements because some of them are pirated, you’re exposing yourself doubly. First, by using software that might include malware, and secondly, by not using the latest versions.
Sure, you could always return to the site where you downloaded the plugin or theme in the first place, and look for updates there. However, the more files you download from pirate websites, the more chances you run of your site getting infected. When it comes to WordPress, pirating themes and plugins actually involves more work than just paying for licenses.
It can be tempting to pirate WordPress themes and plugins instead of paying full price. However, saving a few dollars can end up causing more damage to your website over the long term. If there’s a particular theme or plugin you can’t afford now, you can always use free alternatives in the meantime, or wait for a discount (usually around a holiday period).
Just to drive the point home, here are some ways pirated themes and plugins can affect your website:
- They can be infected with malware.
- You won’t have access to premium support should you need it.
- You won’t be able to update your plugins or themes.
What do you think about WordPress piracy in general? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
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