WordPress is the most popular open source CMS right now, and one reason is widely available themes and plugins.
You can download either free plugins and themes from the directory or get a premium one. However, premium ones are expensive. Many people try to cut costs by downloading nulled WordPress plugins and themes.
In this article, I will show you why it is a bad idea to use nulled themes or plugins on WordPress.
What are nulled themes and plugins?
Nulled themes and plugins are the modified version of premium plugins and themes with no paywall or license restrictions.
As the majority of WordPress plugins and themes are open sources, anyone can read and edit the code. Some developers remove the license requirements from the themes and plugins files.
Nulled plugins and themes are pirated versions of the premium version.
However, the premium software works with a licensed key that you have to buy, while nulled software works without any key because the code has been removed.
10 reasons you must avoid nulled WordPress themes and plugins are:
- Legal Issues
- Web hosting
- No updates
- No new Features
- Get no Support
- Give no Support
- Free alternatives
- Bonus Point
#1 Legal Issues
The majority of the WordPress themes and plugins are part of GPL licenses. GPL (General Public License) allows everyone to freely distribute GPL licensed products.
It is not illegal to buy or sell GPL licensed products via third-party. Majority of WordPress themes and plugins are GPL licensed because it is a condition to be listed on the WordPress.org directory.
The developers often create two versions of their product. One is free and available on the WordPress directory, and a premium version. Developers also lock multiple features in the free version, and users have to get a license to unlock them.
However, using nulled WordPress plugins and themes is not entirely legal. Some plugins and themes are sold with mixed licenses. If the code is not under GPL license, it means you are using it without permission.
But no one is going to sue you for using their software on your website. However, the primary issue is not the legality of the themes and plugins but security and privacy.
Nulled WordPress plugin and themes have modified code. You don’t know what code has been added to the original file to break the premium barrier.
The person who is selling the nulled themes and plugins is admittedly adding code to these files. How hard could it be to add malicious code to harm the websites it gets installed on?
There are some ‘trusted’ nulled theme providers, but it only means that the person is proficient in his work and has not been caught yet.
Any code added to the root theme files and plugins may disguise itself as a system code, and basic scanners will not detect it.
Another critical concern is Privacy. Hacking to steal information is a common practice.
The hackers want the user information, such as name, address, contact numbers, login information, IP addresses, credit card history — all this information stored on any eCommerce store.
As soon as the nulled plugin is activated on the website, it will steal all the information and send it to its server. So, technically, all the data history is stolen in a few minutes.
You will not be able to see any signs of hacking, as the website will work normally. The hack will not even show up in scanners.
Using nulled plugins and themes can be legal, but GDPR compliance is a serious issue. You can be fined a hefty amount if it comes out that you risked your customer’s information for some free software.
#4 Web Hosting
For many web hosting companies (including ServerGuy), it is a breach of terms and services to use the pirated software.
The malicious code would trigger the firewalls and antivirus technologies web hosting companies use, and it will quarantine the nulled plugin, making it useless.
If the plugins go under the radar and the developers report the website, the hosting providers will suspend the agreement. All the invoices and payments will be ineligible for the refund.
Nulled WordPress plugins and themes are not harmful only to the website; they can also affect the server if the hosting provider does not take the appropriate steps.
ServerGuy guarantees hacking free WordPress hosting, and we do not allow using pirated software on our server.
Freely giving away embedded software with a link back to the main website is an elegant marketing strategy many SAAS providers follow. For example: RevolverMaps.
With nulled WordPress plugins and themes, they do not need permission to display the link on the website or redirect your entire website to a new URL.
You will not guess anything is wrong because to logged in users, it will work perfectly.
Search engines will be able to see the SEO spam and block the domain from the search.
Unfortunately, it will hurt the domain’s reputation and organic traffic.
#6 No updates
Nulled WordPress Themes and plugins do not come with any update.
The developers will roll out the updates and upgrades, but you cannot download them because without a valid license.
To get the updated theme and plugin, you have to buy the latest version nulled theme/plugin. Or keep using the outdated themes and plugins.
Outdated plugins are the primary reason behind hacked WordPress websites. That’s why plugin developers release updates so frequently. Whenever there’s a bug or issue, they patch it and release the new version.
WordPress platform gets consistent updates and upgrades. Themes and plugins developers update their products to make them compatible with the latest WordPress version.
With no quick and regular updates, it will be difficult to stay secure at WordPress.
#7 No new Features
Besides fixing bugs and patching code issues, developers also pushed new features through updates.
You will stay unaware of the new feature unless you get the latest version of the theme or plugin.
This new feature could be game-changing for your website or just a new solution to make your workflow a little better. In both ways, you will miss it.
#8 Get no Support
In the open source software world, you don’t pay for the software; you pay for the support.
Few people are software experts (developers, long-time users), and they know a lot about that particular software.
For WordPress themes and plugins, the developers help you out if there is any problem regarding the themes and plugins. You can contact them, raise a ticket, or do a live chat.
But without any valid license, you cannot contact them if your website breaks or any functions do not work. In many cases, you do not even get access to the documentation.
You are on your own and have to search the issue yourself in the community forums.
#9 Give no Support
You are not getting any support from developers or theme providers, and you are not giving any support to developers.
In a way, this is a debatable topic.
If you are not paying for a piece of software for a large enterprise, then it could be okay. As the developer is already paid, you are not technically stealing from him but the enterprise. But then there are independent developers and small businesses with small projects. Not paying for the plugins and themes would be considered stealing from them.
It’s a question of morality, and you have to decide for yourself. Whether stealing from a large organization is equal to stealing from a small independent developer?
#10 Free alternative
The reason that made WordPress so popular is the availability of free resources.
Be it themes, plugins, help, guides, codes, or anything else; everything has a free alternative available.
You can run a full-fledged business using the free WordPress themes and plugins without any obstacles. Ofcourse, when you need to scale, you have to take the paid one. But scaling up is a sign that your business is doing good and can afford what your website deserves.
Go to Google and search for ‘Free — with your pluggin functions –‘ and you will find plenty of articles explaining which plugin is suitable for what functions.
You do not need to get nulled plugins and themes when free alternatives are readily available and do an excellent job.
Bonus Point: Reputation
Last but not least is the business reputation. It takes years to build credibility and a few moments to lose it on the Internet.
What do you think will happen if your website got hacked; your customers and users find out it happened due to a pirated plugin you used.
Even if the website is not hacked, but the users find out that you are using pirated software to run your business, it will affect your reputation.
The majority of users do not know much about WordPress technology, and it is difficult to explain to everyone that nulled GPL licensed products are not illegal to use.
Online reputation is critical to have an online business. Taking care of it is your responsibility.
Are nulled themes illegal?
No, Nulled themes are not entirely illegal. WordPress themes come under GPL licenses which allow everyone to modify and redistribute the WordPress themes.
How do I get nulled themes?
Some many unknown websites and sellers can provide you with nulled themes. Social media groups and forums are favorable places, though. Please review the sellers properly before making any deal.
Is it good to use nulled plugins?
It is not good to use nulled WordPress plugins as they are dangerous to your website. Malware and malicious codes are commonly found in nulled plugins that can hurt your websites. Moreover, they are disguised to stay under the radar.
Can I update a nulled theme?
You cannot update nulled themes as you do not have a valid license key. You have to buy the latest nulled version to get the updated version of the theme.
How can I get a free premium WordPress theme?
Premium WordPress themes are not free, but they have separate free versions with limited functionality. The majority of the theme developers provide a free version, which is often more than enough for small businesses.
How do I scan nulled plugins?
There are several free nulled plugin scanners available online. But you can never be sure as the code could be hidden proficiently. The code would be a part of the file and be safe from scanners.
You must steer clear of nulled plugins and themes or end up spending hundreds of hours cleaning out coded WP plugins and themes because of this kind of malware.
Getting premium plugins at no cost seems fantastic, but it is not worth it at all.
WordPress.org has 55,000+ plugins and themes — all of them free to download and use.
What do you think? Please leave your opinion in the comment box.