Another way we keep your site up and running through every WordPress update is by using premium plugins. While plugin failure is often less catastrophic than theme failure, it is a far more common occurrence. Plugins are pieces of code that ‘plug into’ your website, imbuing it with special functionality. Plugins exist to cover everything from simple social sharing buttons and mailing list forms, to complex booking and commerce systems. So the cost in time and money when dealing with a failed plugin often relates directly to its function and complexity.
Plugin failure generally happens when WordPress updates but the plugin doesn’t, and is most likely to happen with any of the free plugins readily available from the web. Most free plugins are created by someone with a specific need, and is then released into the wild for others to use. As long as the developer has a reason to keep the plugin up and running, things work fine. However, when the author no longer needs it, these plugins often become ‘abandoned’ and updates cease. In fact, according to a recent statistic, 44.7% of the nearly 40,000 plugins available from WordPress.org are likely abandoned, having not been updated in more than two years. And this number doesn’t even include abandoned plugins that have yet to trigger the two year warning threshold.
Premium plugins, on the other hand, are far less likely to become abandoned. There are two types of plugins that I look for and refer to as ‘premium’.
The first, and most stable, are pay-for-use plugins, such as those available from WPMUDev.com. Obviously, when you charge for your plugins, its in your best interest to keep the plugins updated (which WPMUDev does a great job at), lest their customers (currently more than 375,000) abandon them.
The other type of ‘premium’ plugin is actually free. These are usually created by companies that offer premium services related to their plugin. Sometimes these are ‘lite’ versions of their premium plugin, created to build trust and eventually convert free users into paying clients. These developers know that they need to provide stellar service from the beginning. For others, both free and paying clients use the same plugin, but with varying access to premium services. For these, up-and-running is imperative to keep their paying customers happy, and the free users tag along for the ride.