When you’re first starting your business, there is always a temptation to save a few dollars by using nulled plugins. We’re going to outline 5 reasons why this is a very bad idea. WordPress and WooCommerce make it relatively easy to start your online business for free. You can achieve a lot of functionality with free plugins from the WordPress Themes and Plugin repository.
If you’re not a developer than chances are, you might need functionality only available in a paid plugin. You may have heard of nulled plugins before if you haven’t then we’ll outline what they are in the following section.
What are nulled plugins?
Nulled plugins are plugins that are obtained from 3rd party websites, not the official developers or creators. These could be modified to remove license checks or have other malicious code added. These could be available for free or for a heavy discount compared to the advertised official price. To the non-tech savvy user seeing the same plugin for only 5 or 10 per cent of the official cost sounds like a huge saving, in the long run, it’s not.
Are nulled plugins illegal?
Although using nulled plugins might be compared to pirating movies or other software, it’s not exactly the same thing. That is because those are covered by copyright laws and maybe other laws. WordPress is licensed under the GPL (General Public License) and if your theme uses the freemium model, as we do here at WC Vendors, then we are required to release under the GPL. Premium plugins that don’t use the freemium model aren’t required to do this.
A part of the GPL allows anyone to freely copy and distribute this code. This clause is what almost all of these nulled sites use. Some of these nulled sites are very open with what their versions do and do not include. That means that although they might not be breaking the law, some in the community see ethical issues with this.
Although we’re not a fan of people making money off our hard work for nothing, this is the nature of the license that we as developers chose to release our software under. That doesn’t mean you should run out and start using nulled plugins all over your site because there are still some very good reasons why that might end poorly for you and your business.
5 Reasons to Stop Using Nulled Plugins
Now that you know what they are, you might think, well it’s legal and cheap, why should I stop? Here are the five reasons to stop.
- You can’t get any premium support
- You can’t verify the code quality
- You can’t get automatic updates
- They are usually out of date
- We might stop developing the product
You can’t get any premium support
Premium plugins make their money by providing premium support and systems to their customers. Premium support is only available to paying customers. A nulled plugin might have all the functionality of the official plugin, but you’re missing the one thing you’re paying for, support.
We use a freemium model here at WC Vendors so if you’re using the free plugin, you can freely ask for help our forums on WordPress.org. If you need premium support or extended support and you’re using a nulled plugin, you’re on your own. We have had users that were using nulled plugins contact us in a panic due to a bug or other issues and without a valid support license, we cannot help them.
You can’t verify the code quality
When you’re using plugins from nulled sites there is no way to guarantee the code has not been tampered with. There have been so many incidents of nulled plugins inserting malware, SEO link hacks or stealing website data that it’s just not worth it.
When you decide to use these nulled plugins you’re opening yourself up to these exploits and your customers too. Even if you’re a developer do you have the time to dig through thousands of lines of code to determine everything is correct? Malware is extremely sophisticated these days and chances of you being able to find this is low.
Once your site has been hacked, you’re already losing face with your customers and your web host might not be too happy about it either. There is a possibility of data loss or being banned from your host. This would effectively close your business down.
Some sites claim to be ‘legit’ unmodified versions, but can you really be sure? These sites are run by faceless individuals that never reveal who they are so how could you possibly trust them? Better to be safe and go with the legit versions direct from the developers.
You can’t get automatic updates
Using nulled versions means you don’t have a valid license key, this means every time you need to update, you’ll have to do this manually. Manual updates can become painful if you had to do this for every single plugin every single time. Automatic updates mean you’re getting the latest versions as soon as they are available. Nulled plugins are by their definition reducing the security of your site just by not being able to provide updates.
They are usually out of date
WordPress and WooCommerce are a platform that you cannot run outdated versions of. Running 35% of all websites on the internet means its a big target for hackers. You should be running the latest versions and performing updates regularly. Nulled sites are often several versions behind the official release. This means that you’ll be missing out on core bug fixes and new features as they become available.
A lot of plugins are built to extend the functionality of other plugins. WC Vendors plugins are built on top of WooCommerce and we are constantly testing our products with every version of WooCommerce and WordPress. If you’re not using the latest version, then you might break compatibility and your site.
We might stop developing the product
Developing plugins cost money. We have to pay our developers, we need to pay for support, hosting, business licenses, taxes and various other business expenses. If we’re unable to cover our costs then there is a high probability that we’ll stop developing the product. A plugin your business might rely on to survive.
Using a nulled plugin means you’re giving that money to someone else, who only wants to make a quick buck without giving you anything of value. No support, no updates, nothing. This will force us to consider other avenues for revenue that might be completely outside of the WordPress ecosystem.
If you really need a plugin and go with a nulled version than you do see value in the product otherwise you wouldn’t be using it. If you aren’t helping pay for continued development you’re shooting yourself and everyone else in the foot.
Nulled plugins can be harmful to all of us, the developers and you the user. You may or may not save some money using a nulled version but in the end, if you have any problems, that’s going to cost you a lot more in social proof for your business and business continuity.
To be honest the costs of almost all plugins available is negligible in the scheme of things. Even plugins that might cost up to $499 a year. Could you honestly have that entire functionality built for that little money? Would your custom solution also have the benefit of thousands or 10s of thousands of people testing it?
Plugins like WC Vendors Pro are an entire business in a box for a couple of hundred bucks. That’s a bargain if you ask me!