What Are WordPress Plugins? And How Do They Work?

Often beginner users ask us what are WordPress plugins and how do they work? Plugins are an important part of the WordPress ecosystem, and they are essential for building great websites using WordPress. In this beginners guide, we will explain what are WordPress plugins and how do they work?

What Are WordPress Plugins? How Do They Work?

What Are WordPress Plugins?

WordPress plugins are apps that allow you to add new features and functionality to your WordPress website. Exactly the same way as apps do for your smartphone.

New plugins directory page on WordPress.org

There are more than 48,000 free plugins available right now on the WordPress.org plugin directory. Thousands more are available from third-party websites like Github.

On top of that, there are also thousands of premium WordPress plugins that are sold by individual developers and companies like ourselves.

In 2003, WordPress started as a simple tool to help you start a blog. Over the years, it has evolved into a powerful content management system and application framework, thanks primarily to plugins.

What Can WordPress Plugins Do?

WordPress plugins are small software apps that integrate and run on top of the WordPress software. This allows you to create almost any kind of website with WordPress (not just blogs).

For example, you can:

There is a popular saying in the WordPress community, “There is a plugin for that”.

No matter what you are trying to do on your WordPress site, it’s possible. If the feature is not available in default WordPress, then there is certainly a plugin available for that.

There are WordPress plugins to improve SEO, boost performance, add contact forms, social media buttons, create galleries, and so much more.

Plugins can be small and offer just one tiny little feature (like adding an image to sidebar).

Or they can also be quite large and act as their own platform as well (Example: WordPress eCommerce plugins or WordPress membership plugins).

More feature rich plugins can have their own addon plugins to extend them just like you would extend WordPress.

How WordPress Plugins Work?

WordPress is written in a way so that other developers can add their own code into it. The WordPress plugin API offers a robust set of hooks and filters which allow developers to modify existing WordPress functionality or add new functionality.

WordPress also allows developers to store data in the WordPress database. Plugins can utilize WordPress content types, taxonomies, and custom fields which allow users to store different types of content not just post and pages.

Each WordPress plugin installed on your site is registered in your WordPress database. You can activate and deactivate them at any time you want.

Installed WordPress plugins

Upon each visit, WordPress connects to the database, loads the core software, and then loads your active plugins. All this code is processed on your server and then sent to user’s browser.

How to Find WordPress Plugins and Install Them?

You can find free WordPress plugins by visiting WordPress.org plugin directory or you can also find them directly from your WordPress admin area.

Simply head over to Plugins » Add New page and search by typing plugin name or functionality you want to add.

Searching for plugins from WordPress admin area

WordPress will search the plugin directory and display the available plugins in a list. You need to review the results, and click on the install now button next to the plugin you want to install.

Reviewing and installing plugin from search results

However, search results inside the WordPress admin area are not always helpful because they are limited to free plugins only. Most beginners find it difficult to decide which plugin is best for the job.

Another approach is to look for plugin recommendations and tutorials on sites like WPBeginner.com. We have a WordPress plugins section where you can find the best WordPress plugins that we have thoroughly tested and reviewed.

You can also find WordPress plugins in our editor’s pick of the best WordPress plugins for business websites or checkout the plugins we are using on our website in the WPBeginner’s Blueprint.

More FAQs About WordPress Plugins

I cannot see or install plugins on my WordPress blog?

Most probably you are using WordPress.com. You can only install WordPress plugins on self-hosted WordPress.org websites. See our guide on the difference between self hosted WordPress.org vs free WordPress.com blog.

How many WordPress plugins are too many?

A common misconception among users is that too many plugins can slow down their website. It is NEVER too many plugins that are slowing down your site. It is always poorly coded plugins that degrade performance. For details see our guide on How many WordPress plugins should you install?.

Should I install plugins not tested with my WordPress version?

Sometimes authors of free plugins do not update their plugin files on each new WordPress release. Simply because if it works, then they don’t feel the need to update it. For more on this topic, see our article on installing plugins not tested with your WordPress version.

How to choose between free vs paid plugins?

There are thousands of free plugins and there is a good chance that you can find a free plugin offering the same functionality as a paid plugin. If it works good for you, then use it.

Please keep in mind that free plugins are offered as they are, with no warranties, and no promise of support. Plugin author can stop working on a plugin at anytime they want.

If you feel you will be needing lots of support, and you want regular updates, then paid plugins do a much better job at it.

We use a combination of both free and paid plugins on all our websites.

How do I get support for free WordPress plugins?

Free WordPress plugins are offered without the promise of support. However, most good plugins offer limited free support for their plugins through the official WordPress support forums. Simply visit the plugin page and click on the support tab to post your question.

Getting support for free WordPress plugins

For more on this topic, we recommend you take a look at our guide on how to properly ask for WordPress support and get it.

We hope this article helped you understand what are WordPress plugins and how do they work. You may also want to see our beginner’s guide on how to choose the best WordPress plugin.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

7 Best WordPress Backup Plugins Compared (Pros and Cons)

Creating regular WordPress backups is the best thing you can do for your website. Backups give you peace of mind and can save you in catastrophic situations when your site gets hacked or you accidentally lock yourself out. There are several free and paid backup plugins for WordPress, and most of them are fairly easy to use. In this article, we will show you the 7 best backup plugins for WordPress.

Best WordPress Backup Plugins Compared

Important: Many WordPress hosting providers offer limited backup services, but please remember that it is your responsibility to backup your website on your own. Do not rely solely on your hosting provider for backups.

If you are not already backing up your site, then you should pick one of these 7 best WordPress backup plugins and start using it right away.

1. BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy is the most popular premium WordPress backup plugin. It allows you to easily schedule daily, weekly, or monthly backups. It can also automatically store your backups in Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, FTP, Stash (their cloud service), and even email it to yourself.

If you use their Stash service, then you also have the ability to do real-time backups.

The biggest advantage of using BackupBuddy is that it is not a subscription based service, so there is no monthly fee. You can use the plugin on the number of sites mentioned in your plan. You also get access to premium support forums, regular updates, and 1GB of cloud storage to store your backups.

You can even use BackupBuddy to duplicate, migrate and restore websites.

2. UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus is a free WordPress backup plugin. It allows you to create complete backup of your WordPress site and store it on the cloud or download to your computer.

The plugin supports scheduled as well as on-demand backups. You can also choose which files to backup. It can automatically upload your backups to Dropbox, Google Drive, S3, Rackspace, FTP, SFTP, email, and several other cloud storage services (see our step by step guide on how to backup & restore your WordPress site with UpdraftPlus).

UpdraftPlus also has a premium version with add-ons to migrate or clone site, database search and replace, and multisite support among other things. The premium version also gets you access to priority support.

3. BackWPUp

BackWPUp

BackWPup is a free plugin that allows you to create complete WordPress backup for free and store it on the cloud (Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace, etc), FTP, email, or on your computer.

It is extremely easy to use and allows you to schedule automatic backups according to your site’s update frequency.

Restoring a WordPress site from backup is also very simple. The BackWPup Pro version comes with priority support, ability to store backups on Google Drive, and some other cool features.

4. BackUpWordPress

BackUpWordPress

BackupWordPress is a complete WordPress backup plugin with automatic scheduling support. It allows you to create different schedules for your database and files. The only problem is that the free version does not allow you to store your WordPress backups to a cloud storage service.

If you want to store your backups on Dropbox, Google Drive, FTP, etc, then you will need to purchase a premium extension for it. The extensions are available for each service, and you can buy the one you need or the whole bundle.

5. Duplicator

Duplicator

As the name suggests, Duplicator is a popular WordPress plugin used to migrate WordPress sites. However it also has backup features.

It does not allow you to create automated scheduled backups which makes it less than ideal primary WordPress backup solution for a regularly maintained site.

6. WP-DB-Backup

WP-DB-Backup

With more than 400,000 active installs, WP-DB-Backup is one of the most popular WordPress backup plugins. The only problem is that it only backups your WordPress database.

This means that you will have to backup your media files manually. If you do not update a site too often or do not upload images, then you can use WP-DB-Backup as your primary WordPress backup plugin.

WP-DB-Backup makes it really simple to create database backups, schedule automated backups, and restore your database. It is also a very useful tool for users who do not have access to phpMyAdmin to backup WordPress dataabase manually.

7. VaultPress

VaultPress

At WPBeginner, we use VaultPress to backup our site. VaultPress was founded by Matt Mullenweg (WordPress co-founder) and his team at Automattic.

It has recently become part of Automattic’s another product called JetPack. You will need a JetPack subscription plan to use VaultPress. There are different pricing plans with different set of features.

VaultPress offers automated real-time cloud backup solution starting at $3.50 per month. Setting up VaultPress and restoring from backups is just a matter of clicks. With some of their packages, they even offer security scans.

There are a few downsides of using VaultPress. First, it is a recurring expense that can add up if you have multiple WordPress sites. Secondly, you will have to subscribe to JetPack, get a WordPress.com account, and install JetPack plugin on your site.

Lastly, on the lower plans backups are only stored for 30-day archive. If you want unlimited backup archive, then you have to pay the $29 per month fee per website which is significantly expensive for beginners.

We are still using VaultPress because we got grandfathered in at their older pricing which was a lot more favorable.

Final Thoughts

Each WordPress backup plugin has it’s pros and cons. We use VaultPress for two main reasons. It is extremely easy to use, and it offers real-time incremental backups. What this means is that instead of backing up all of your files every day or every hour, it only creates a backup of what has been updated literally within minutes of the update. This is ideal for a large sites like ours because it allows us to use our server resources efficiently.

However if you run a small to medium size website and hate paying monthly fees, then we recommend the popular BackupBuddy plugin. Why? Because they have their own cloud storage, Stash, which makes it easy for beginners to store their backups in cloud with a matter of few clicks.

Whichever WordPress backup plugin you end up choosing, please do NOT store your backups on the same server as your website.

By doing that, you are putting all of your eggs in one basket. If your server’s hardware fails or worst you get hacked, then you don’t have a backup which defeats the purpose of setting up regular backups.

This is why we highly recommend storing your backups on a third-party storage service like Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, etc.

That’s all. We hope that this list helped you pick the best WordPress backup plugin for your site. You may also want to see our step by step WordPress security guide for beginners.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

How to Find Which Files to Edit in WordPress Theme

Recently, one of our readers asked how do you find which files to edit in their WordPress theme? If you are new to WordPress theme development and want to customize your theme, then you need to learn which template files in your theme you need to edit. In this article, we will show you how to easily find which files to edit in WordPress theme.

How to find which WordPress theme files to edit

Template Files in WordPress Themes

WordPress themes control how your website looks to your users. Each theme contains several template files which control the appearance of a particular section or page in your WordPress theme.

For example, single.php file controls the appearance of single posts on your website. It is not the only file to do that.

If your theme does not have a single.php file, then WordPress will look for alternate templates like index.php to display the page.

Most beginners are not familiar with template hierarchy in WordPress. This makes it harder for them to figure out which files to edit when they want to customize their themes.

Having said that, let’s see how to easily find out which files to edit in your WordPress theme.

Finding Template Files in WordPress Themes

First thing you need to do is install and activate the What The File plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

The plugin works out of the box, and there are no settings for you to configure.

Upon activation, you need to visit your website and you will notice a new ‘What the file’ menu in WordPress admin bar.

What the file menu in WordPress admin bar

Now you need to just take your mouse over to the menu item, and it will display a drop down menu listing the template files used to display this page.

Template files used to display this page

Clicking on the file name will take you to the default WordPress file editor where you can edit that particular file.

However, we do not recommend using WordPress file editor to edit theme files because there is no undo option. If you accidentally lock yourself out of your website, then you would have to use a FTP client. That’s why we always using a FTP client and plain text editor to edit your files.

Making direct changes to your WordPress theme is also a bad idea. Those changes will disappear when you update your theme.

If you are just adding some CSS, then you can add it as custom CSS in WordPress. For all other changes you should create a child theme.

‘What The File plugin’ can help you locate the theme files that you need to copy and edit in your child theme.

Note: The menu item added by the plugin in the admin bar will be visible to all logged in users, and it has a link to an external site. You should only use this plugin in development environment.

We hope this article helped you learn how to find which files to edit in WordPress themes. You may also want to see our guide on how to test your WordPress theme against latest standards

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

How to Accept Payments with Stripe in WordPress

Do you want to accept payments with Stripe in WordPress? Stripe makes it easier for site owners to accept payments on their WordPress websites. In this article, we will show you how to easily accept payments with Stripe in WordPress.

How to accept payments with Stripe in WordPress

Note: Stripe requires your site to be using SSL/HTTPS encryption. If you don’t already have SSL certificate for your website, then please see our step by step guide on how to add SSL in WordPress. Some WordPress hosting providers are now offering free SSL with Let’s Encrypt.

There are many different ways to accept payments with Stripe in WordPress. We will cover 4 different methods, so you can choose the one that best suit your needs.

For quick browsing, feel free to use the navigation links below:

Custom Stripe Order Forms in WordPress with WPForms

WPForms is the best WordPress form plugin. It allows you to create custom payment forms and easily accept payments on your WordPress site using Stripe and PayPal.

WPForms is a paid plugin, and you will need the Pro plan to use the Stripe and PayPal addons.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the WPForms plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit WPForms » Settings page to enter your license key. You can get this license key from your account on WPForms website.

Adding your WPForms license key

After verification, you need to head over to WPForms » Addons page.

Scroll down to ‘Stripe Addon’ and click on the Install Addon button next to it.

WPForms will automatically install the Stripe forms addon. You will need to click on the activate button to start using this addon.

Next, you need to visit WPForms » Settings page and click on the payments tab.

Once there, you need to connect Stripe to your WordPress site by entering the API keys. You can get these keys from your Stripe account settings.

Payment settings

After entering the API keys don’t forget to click on the save button to store your settings.

You are now ready to accept payments using Stripe in WordPress.

Next, you need to create a form to accept payments on your WordPress site.

Head over to WPForms » Add New page. This will launch the WPForms form builder interface.

Select a form template

WPForms comes with ready to use form templates. You can select an Order/Billing form, donations form, or create a blank form.

WPForms edit fields

You can add new form fields by clicking them from the left column. You can also edit a form field by simply clicking on it.

Once you are satisfied with the form, you need to click on the Payments » Stripe tab.

Adding payment form settings

Now you need to check the box next to ‘Enable Stripe payments’ option and enter a description for the payment. You can also select to send a payment receipt.

Don’t forget to click on the save button to store your settings.

You are now ready to add this form to any WordPress post or page you want.

Simply create a new post or page or edit an existing one and then click on the Add Form button.

Add payment form to a WordPress post or page

This will bring up a popup where you need to select the form you just created and click on the add form button.

Select your Stripe payment form

WPForms will now add the form shortcode to your WordPress post editor.

You can now save or publish your page and click on the preview button to see your form in action.

Stripe payment form

Purchase Button with WP Simple Pay Lite for Stripe

This method allows you to add a payment button to your WordPress site. Unlike WPForms, this method does not allow you to create custom payment forms with your own fields.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the WP Simple Pay Lite for Stripe plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item labeled ‘Simple Pay Lite’ to your WordPress admin bar. Clicking on it will take you to plugin’s settings page.

Simple pay lite settings

The first option you will notice on the settings page is live mode. By default, it is turned off. This allows you to add Stripe in testing mode. Once you are ready to go live, you will need to turn it on.

Next you will need to provide your Stripe API Keys. You can get this information from your Stripe account.

After entering your API Keys don’t forget to click on the save changes button to store your settings.

Next, you need to click on the default settings tab on plugin’s settings page.

Default settings for WP Simple Pay Lite

This is where you can set site name, currency, logo, payment button label, etc.

You can also add redirect URLs when a payment is successful or failed. These could be any WordPress pages on your site.

Don’t forget to click on the save changes button to store your settings.

Now you are ready to add a Stripe payment form to your website.

Simply create a new page or edit a page where you want to display the payment form. You will need to add a shortcode to display your Stripe payment form, like this:

[stripe name="My Store" description="My Product" amount="19.99"]

Don’t forget to replace store name, description, and amount with your own values.

You can now save your changes and visit your website to see the form in action.

Stripe payment form in WordPress using WP Simple Pay Lite

Adding Stripe Payment Gateway in WooCommerce

If you are running an online store with WordPress using WooCommerce, then here is how you can accept payments using Stripe.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the WooCommerce Stripe Payment Gateway plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit WooCommerce » Settings page and then click on the checkout tab.

You will notice the new Stripe payment option on the page. Clicking on it will allow you to setup Stripe payment gateway for your WooCommerce store.

Setting up Stripe on WooCommerce

First you need to click on the ‘Enable Stripe’ option.

After that you can check the test mode button, which allow you to test Stripe payment gateway. Make sure that you uncheck this box when you are ready to accept payments.

Next you need to enter your Stripe API keys. You can obtain these keys from your Stripe account settings.

Don’t forget to click on the save changes button store your settings.

That’s all, your users will now see Stripe as a payment option on the checkout page.

Stripe checkout in WooCommerce

Stripe Payments with Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads is one of the best WordPress eCommerce plugins on the market. It allows you to easily sell digital downloads from your WordPress site.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Stripe Payment Gateway addon for Easy Digital Downloads. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

The Stripe extension is a paid addon for Easy Digital Downloads. It costs $89 for a single site license.

Upon activation, you need to visit Downloads » Settings page and then click on ‘Payment Gateways’ tab.

Check the box next to Stripe to enable Stripe as a payment gateway on your website.

Enable Stripe on EDD

Click on the save changes button to store your settings.

Next, you need to scroll down to Stripe settings section and enter your Stripe API keys. You can get these keys from your Stripe account settings.

Adding Stripe API Keys

After adding your Stripe API keys, you can configure additional settings. You can ask users for a billing address, display checkout in a modal, upload a logo for the modal, etc.

Don’t forget to click on the save changes button to store your changes.

That’s all, your users will now see the option to pay using Stripe at checkout.

Stripe checkout Easy Digital Downloads

We hope this article helped you learn how to accept payments with Stripe in WordPress. You may also want to see our list of 24 must have WordPress plugins for business websites.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

How to Add Underline and Justify Text Buttons in WordPress

Are you looking for the missing underline and justify button in WordPress post editor? These buttons were removed from the post editor in WordPress 4.7. But there’s a way to bring them back. In this article, we will show you how to add underline and justify text buttons in WordPress.

Underline and Justify Text in WordPress

Method 1: Using Re-add Text Underline and Justify Plugin

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Re-add Text Underline and Justify plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Settings » Writing page to configure the plugin settings.

Re-Add underline and justify text plugin settings

The plugin comes with two options to choose from.

You can add the underline and justify text buttons, so they will appear in the second row of the post editor buttons.

Alternatively, you can choose to re-add buttons and rearrange. This will put underline and justify text buttons in the same position as they were before WordPress 4.7.

Don’t forget to click on the save changes button to store your settings.

You can now visit Posts » Add New page, and you will find underline and justify text buttons added back to the post editor.

Underline and Justify text buttons added back in WordPress post editor

Method 2: TinyMCE Advanced Plugin

This method allows you to do a lot more than just adding the underline and justify text buttons. You can add custom styles, add missing buttons, and even create your own buttons.

First, you need to install and activate the TinyMCE Advanced plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Settings » TinyMCE Advanced page to configure plugin settings.

Drag and drop underline and justify text buttons to the post editor

You will notice a preview of the WordPress post editor. Below the preview, it will show you all the unused buttons.

Now you need to drag and drop underline and justify text buttons from ‘Unused Buttons’ box to the post editor.

Don’t forget to click on the save changes button to store your settings.

You can now create a new post or edit an existing one. You will notice that the default WordPress post editor is replaced by the TinyMCE Advanced editor.

We hope this article helped you learn how to add underline and justify text buttons in WordPress. You may also want to see our list of tips for mastering the WordPress visual editor.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.