8 Reasons To Avoid Nulled WordPress Plugins (Check This First)

8 Important Reasons To Avoid Using Nulled WordPress Plugins

Reasons To Avoid Using Nulled WordPress Plugins

There are many ways to save on business expenses but using nulled WordPress plugins isn’t one of them.

Not only do they put your website at risk, but they also rob developers of much needed income.

We have to admit to a certain amount of bias here as we’re a WordPress developer and see the Astra theme and other products we create nulled all the time.

Despite our vested interest, everyone needs to know that nulled plugins and themes can be dangerous.

They pose a risk to your website, data and reputation and should be avoided at all costs.

Let us explain why.

What Are Nulled Plugins?

First, a little background.

Nulled WordPress plugins are usually pirated version of premium products. They are frequently available on download sites and via bit torrent.

Nulled WordPress Plugin torrents

The motives for offering nulled plugins vary. It can be to distribute premium products to ‘stick it to the man’ or there can be more nefarious reasons.

A darker motive to distribute nulled plugins is because they can include a secret backdoor, malware and/or malicious code.

This code can provide access to a hacker, inject code or poisoned ads into your website or steal customer data.

Not all plugins include malicious code.

But, unless you’re a developer and are willing to scour the code looking for it, you’ll never know until it’s too late.

How To Recognize a Nulled Plugin

With so many outlets offering so many WordPress plugins, how do you know which is nulled or not?

Nulled plugins available as bit torrents or via social media are unlikely to be the real deal.

Sometimes files are named ‘Nulled’ to let you know what you’re getting. Often there’s no way of knowing.

The only way to be sure you’re not downloading a nulled plugin is to use legitimate sources. Go directly to the developer, use WordPress.org or a reliable plugin marketplace.

It’s the only way to be sure.

Why Nulled Plugins Are a Bad Idea – 8 Reasons

Nulled plugins are a bad idea full stop. The reasons shouldn’t matter, if a plugin is stolen, it’s stolen.

But if you want to get into specifics, here are 8 reasons why nulled plugins are a bad idea:

1. Security Risks

Stats on security risks

Security is a prime risk of using nulled WordPress plugins. Unless you can check every line of code, you have no idea what hidden extras are included with the plugin or the vulnerabilities you’re introducing into your website.

Here are some stats to help make our point:

  • On average 30,000 new websites are hacked every day.
  • WordPress security plugin WordFence blocked 4.3 billion attempts to exploit vulnerabilities from over 9.7 million unique IP addresses in 2020.
  • Google’s Safe Browsing service blacklists up to 70,000 websites each day for malware infection or phishing scams.
  • 52% of attacks happen because of plugins.


Not all these stats can be attributed to nulled plugins. But if your website is being constantly attacked, why add another vulnerability into the mix?

2. Risk to Privacy

The risk to privacy is similar to security but has its own set of outcomes. Being hacked is bad enough, but the reputation damage involved in a data breach can be terminal.

Nulled plugins can often include a backdoor, code inserted into the plugin that grants secret access to a hacker.

We don’t say this to scare you, but to reinforce the message that nulled plugins can be the cause of data breaches on websites.

According to IBM Security, the average time to detect and manage a data breach in 2021 was 287 days.

Imagine just how much data you could lose in that time! Even if you don’t keep much data, once a hacker has access to your website, they can do whatever they like.

3. It’s (usually) Theft

Because the code used in WordPress plugins is partly or wholly licensed under GPL (General Public License) some people think it’s okay to offer it for free.

GPL - General Public License

That completely ignores all the code added by developers and the resources taken to create the plugin.

That’s not even getting into the time and effort spent testing for compatibility, updating it to keep it current and supporting the plugin.

The issue of GPL licensing is complicated and not a reason to steal.

It comes down to a simple choice. Steal from developers and you’re reducing the income required to continue developing and improving products. It’s a zero sum game.

4. An Unsafe Flag From Google Can Ruin Your SEO

We would like to refer you back to the Google statistic above:

  • Google’s Safe Browsing service blacklists up to 70,000 websites each day for malware infection or phishing scams.

Google Safe Browsing helps protect Chrome, Android, search, Gmail and Google Ads.

You don’t need us to tell you how being flagged by the world’s largest search engine will impact your SEO…

Using a nulled theme or plugin that includes malicious code could risk you being added to this list.

If your site is flagged as unsafe, there is a procedure to have it reviewed but you’ll need to clean the site and request a review via Google Search Console.

It’s simple enough but isn’t fast and won’t magically restore your SEO ranking.

5. You Don’t Know the Motive

Understanding motive is key to understanding risk. If you know why someone does something, you can have a fair idea of how much risk it poses.

There’s no way to know the motive of someone offering nulled WordPress plugins. They might say they are doing it for the good of mankind, but can you trust them? Would you trust your website to them?

Even if there’s a slight doubt about their motivation, you should tread extremely carefully. We would say it’s too much of a risk, especially when there are more reliable alternatives.

6. Lack of Updates

Updates are a key aspect of WordPress, themes and plugins. As WordPress core is developed and improved, themes and plugins are developed to keep up.

WordPress update notification

Nulled themes and plugins have no such development.

Outdated plugins are one of the most common vulnerabilities in WordPress. Not only are you potentially introducing vulnerabilities when using nulled plugins, you’re also adding more as soon as it becomes outdated.

Not only that, but some core updates to WordPress will also change the way it works. Without an update, your plugin essentially becomes useless.

7. No Support

Sometimes, even the most experienced user needs a little help. The more complex the plugin, the more likely it is you’ll need assistance.

While forums and FAQs can help, there’s nothing like live chat or human support to help answer your questions or help configure your plugin.

Astra theme support page

Often, it’s that support that makes the price worth paying.

Some developers require you to register a product key to access forums and documentation so you’ll really struggle to get help in that situation.

8. Developers Need To Eat

Developers need to eat, drink coffee and need electricity to keep laptops charged.

We are being purposely light-hearted here, but this is a serious point.

The only reason Brainstorm Force can afford to develop Astra, Spectra, SureCart and all our other products is because people pay for them.

The reason we can offer the Astra WordPress theme for free is because enough people buy premium so the business can afford to do it.

We appreciate that times are tight and money can be scarce but it’s the same for all of us. We all have families to feed, bills to pay and a business to run.

This point is the same for any industry. The more people consume products or services without paying, the less money there will be to keep going, develop and improve those products and services.

Recommended Free Nulled Plugin Alternatives

Now you know the risks presented by nulled WordPress plugins, you’ll probably want to find some reliable alternatives.

You could pay for the legit version of the plugin you want or you could look for a free alternative.

Here are 5 free alternatives to premium plugins to get you started:

Spectra Instead of Nulled Elementor

Spectra website

Elementor has a perfectly good free version but it limits the number and type of tools you can use. Nulled premium versions of Elementor are available but we wouldn’t recommend them.

We would recommend sticking with the free version or using Spectra instead.

Spectra has a free version that offers 28 blocks, adds block patterns and wireframes and access to readymade website templates. All for free.

Astra Instead of Any Nulled Theme

Astra website

The free version of Astra is the most popular third-party WordPress theme in the world. It’s also one of the most generous free themes in the world.

You get the full theme, access to a range of readymade templates, website building tools and more. For free.

There really is no need to use a nulled premium theme when you have a free option this good!

Spectra Forms Block Instead of a Nulled Form Plugin

Spectra Forms Block

Forms are an essential part of a website so it may be tempting to use a nulled form plugin. Don’t.

If you use the Spectra website builder, you’ll find a forms block included with the free version so you don’t even need a plugin!

If you don’t want to use Spectra, use a free option like WPForms Lite instead. Unless you want to create complex or multi-step forms, the free version should deliver everything you need for engagement.

WordFence Instead of a Nulled Premium Security Plugin

WordFence website

Why would you trust a hacked version of a plugin to protect your website from hackers? That’s something we would strongly recommend against, especially when there are decent free options.

Rather than use a nulled plugin, use WordFence or other free option instead.

Free options usually include all the basic tools you need to protect your website at no cost.

Yoast Free SEO Instead of a Nulled SEO Plugin

Yoast Free SEO plugin

SEO plugins range from free to expensive and we understand the temptation to use a nulled version. Why bother when there are some excellent free options?

A great free SEO plugin is Yoast. There’s a feature-rich free version as well as a paid option. The free is more than enough to get you started and is the one we recommend using.

You can stay with the free version or upgrade when you’re ready to. It’s entirely up to you.

Nulled Plugin FAQs

We hope we have answered your questions around nulled plugins, but just in case…

Is it illegal to use nulled plugins?

It is often, but not always illegal, to use nulled plugins. The vast majority are stolen from the developer and have been stripped of any security. Those are illegal. Plugins that are wholly or partly included within a GPL license are not necessarily illegal. Some, or all, of the code within the plugin may be included within a GPL, so it’s a real gray area.

Are nulled WordPress themes safe?

No, nulled WordPress themes are not usually safe. They have the same risks as nulled WordPress plugins. They can include a lot more than the plugin and can cause havoc on your website. Some may not include ‘extra’ code, but you’ll never know until it’s too late.

How do I know if a WordPress plugin is safe?

You know a WordPress plugin is safe if you acquire it from a legitimate source. No developer is intentionally going to offer a plugin that will damage your website or your reputation as it’s bad for business. If you do have problems with a legitimate plugin, there are remedies available which makes legit plugins much safer to use.

Are all WordPress plugins safe?

All WordPress plugins obtained from the developer or legitimate sources should be safe. There are no guarantees though as software can be incredibly complex. We would say plugins obtained from legitimate sources are far, far safer than those obtained elsewhere.

Are plugins bad for WordPress?

No, plugins are not bad for WordPress. In fact, plugins are a core part of WordPress and the two have been designed to work together. As long as you acquire plugins from legitimate sources, you should be able to use any plugin you like on your website.


I think you get by now that we think nulled WordPress plugins are a bad idea. It’s not just about protecting our livelihood, it’s also about protecting yours.

If you run business websites, the last thing you want to do is put them at risk with unnecessary vulnerabilities.

Not all nulled WordPress plugins will include malicious code, but you’ll never know until it’s too late. Then, the annual cost of that premium plugin will seem cheap by comparison!

Do you use nulled WP plugins? If so, why? Would you consider using legitimate free plugins instead? Tell us your story below!

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may receive a small commission. Read disclosure. Rest assured that we only recommend products that we have personally used and believe will add value to our readers. Thanks for your support!

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