How to Deactivate All Plugins in WordPress: A Comprehensive Guide

Installing plugins in WordPress is like adding new apps to your phone. It helps unlock new features and capabilities that wouldn’t be available otherwise. But what happens when your website starts acting strangely? Some of the most common WordPress errors are due to plugin issues.

You need to identify which plugins are truly essential for your site’s performance and security. Deactivating all plugins can be an excellent troubleshooting method. WordPress experts use this tactic to isolate the source of an issue and resolve it effectively.

So how to deactivate all plugins in WordPress? And what might be the reasons behind this decision? We’ll find out in this blog. Let’s begin.

Why Deactivate All Plugins in WordPress?

WordPress plugins offer a treasure trove of features and customization options. But there are situations where deactivating all of them can be a strategic move. Here’s why you might consider taking this temporary step:

Isolating Issues

If your website is experiencing strange behavior, malfunctions, or error messages, plugins can sometimes be the root cause. Deactivating all of them creates a clean slate, allowing you to see if the problem persists. If it vanishes with all plugins disabled, you know a plugin is likely to blame.

Identifying Essential Plugins

Over time, a website can accumulate a collection of plugins. Some might be crucial for core functionalities, while others may have become unused or outdated. Deactivating everything at once helps you prioritize which plugins are truly essential for your website’s day-to-day operations and performance.

Security Checks

Occasionally, a plugin might introduce security vulnerabilities to your site. Deactivating all plugins allows you to assess your website’s security baseline without any plugin-related risks. This can be helpful when implementing new security measures or troubleshooting security concerns.

Performance Optimization

A large number of active plugins can sometimes slow down your website’s loading speed. Deactivating them all temporarily lets you measure your website’s baseline performance without any plugin interference. This can help identify and fix the WordPress performance. It can better guide your optimization efforts.

Remember, deactivating all plugins is a temporary troubleshooting step. Once you’ve identified the source of an issue or assessed your essential plugins, you can selectively reactivate them one by one.

If you need help with deactivating the plugins and streamlining the website, you can consult with our WordPress development experts. Or you can refer to the next section for the process.

Want to optimize the performance and security of your WordPress website?

How to Deactivate All Plugins in WordPress?

There are two main methods for deactivating all plugins in WordPress: using the WordPress dashboard (if accessible) and using FTP (if the dashboard isn’t accessible).

Via the WordPress Dashboard

This method is the simplest and most recommended approach if you can access your WordPress dashboard. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard and go to the “Plugins” menu option. This will display a list of all your installed plugins.

Step 2: At the top of the plugin list, you’ll find a checkbox to select all plugins. Click on this checkbox to highlight all plugins.

Step 3: Once all plugins are selected, look for the “Bulk Actions” dropdown menu. From this menu, choose the option “Deactivate”.

Step 4: Click the “Apply” button to confirm your selection and deactivate all the chosen plugins.

Via an FTP Client

Let’s say you are unable to access your WordPress dashboard due to a plugin conflict or another issue. Then you can use FTP to deactivate all plugins. You’ll need an FTP client like FileZilla or any program that allows you to connect to your website’s server space.

Before starting with the process, make sure you have the FTP login credentials. 

Step 1: Use your FTP client to establish a connection to your website’s server using the provided credentials.

Step 2: Once connected, navigate to the wp-content directory within your WordPress file structure.

Step 3: Locate the folder named plugins within the wp-content directory. Right-click on this folder and select Rename.

Step 4: Rename the folder to something like plugins.deactivated.

By renaming the plugins folder, WordPress can’t locate the plugin files and automatically deactivates all active plugins.

Via phpMyAdmin

This method involves modifying your WordPress database. If you’re not familiar with phpMyAdmin, consider the WP-CLI method or seeking help from professional WordPress developers.

Step 1: Access phpMyAdmin through the WordPress hosting provider. It’s usually located within your control panel.

Step 2: Locate the wp_options table. This table stores various WordPress settings, including information about active plugins.

Step 3: Within the wp_options table, look for an option named active_plugins. This option stores a serialized string containing a list of your currently active plugins.

Step 4: Click the “Edit” link next to the active_plugins option.

Step 5: In the option_value field, change the value to a:0:{}. This essentially tells WordPress there are no active plugins.

Step 6: Click ‘Go’ to save your changes.

All your WordPress plugins will now be deactivated.


This method is recommended to those familiar with the command line and WP-CLI.

Before starting the process, make sure you have WP-CLI installed and configured for your WordPress site. You can find instructions for WP-CLI installation on the WordPress Codex.

Step 1: Access your command line or terminal on your computer.

Step 2: Use the cd command to navigate to the root directory of your WordPress installation.

Step 3: Run the following command in your terminal:

wp plugin deactivate --all

This command instructs WP-CLI to deactivate all plugins on your WordPress site.

While deactivating all plugins can be a helpful troubleshooting tactic, understand that it’s a temporary step.

Once you’ve identified the source of the problem, make sure you reactivate the essential plugins one-by-one (through the dashboard). That will ensure the functionality restoration while maintaining the security and performance of the WordPress website.

How to Choose the Best WordPress Plugins?

Although plugins can help integrate various features, having too many plugins can cause issues to the website. So make sure to choose the best WordPress plugins that enhance your website without causing problems:

  • Functionality: This is the core reason you’re installing a plugin. Clearly define the features and functionalities you need. Does the plugin offer exactly what you’re looking for, or are there unnecessary extras?
  • Reputation and Reviews: Look for plugins with positive user reviews and a good reputation. The WordPress plugin directory showcases the number of active installations, which can be a good indicator of a plugin’s reliability.
  • Compatibility: Ensure the plugin is compatible with your current WordPress version and any other plugins you’re using. Incompatible plugins can lead to conflicts and malfunctions.
  • Updates and Support: Regular updates are crucial for security and functionality. Choose plugins that are actively maintained by the developer and offer some form of support, whether through documentation, forums, or a ticketing system.
  • Performance: A poorly coded plugin can slow down your website. Look for lightweight plugins that are optimized for performance. Consider testing the plugin on a staging site before deploying it on your live website.
  • Security: Only install plugins from reputable sources like the WordPress plugin directory.  Avoid nulled or cracked plugins, as they can be riddled with security vulnerabilities.
  • Additional Features: While some plugins offer a laser focus on a single function, others provide a wider range of features. Consider if a feature-rich plugin can replace multiple plugins, simplifying your setup.

Remember, installing too many plugins can clutter your admin panel and potentially slow down your website. Make sure you consider these factors and install only the necessary plugins.

If you want custom functionalities on your site, you can opt for our WordPress plugin development services. We will create and customize the best plugins for your WordPress website.

FAQs on Deactivating All Plugins in WordPress

Can I deactivate all plugins at once in WordPress?
Yes, you can deactivate all plugins at once in WordPress by selecting all plugins and choosing "Deactivate" from the "Bulk Actions" dropdown menu. This is a quick and easy way to troubleshoot any plugin conflicts on your site.
Will deactivating all plugins affect my site's content?
No, deactivating all plugins will not affect your site's content. Your posts, pages, and other content will remain intact. However, depending on the plugins you have installed, some functionality may be temporarily disabled until you reactivate the plugins.
Can I deactivate all plugins permanently in WordPress?
Yes, you can deactivate all plugins permanently in WordPress by deleting them from your site's "wp-content/plugins" folder. However, keep in mind that this will permanently remove the plugins and you may not be able to retrieve them without re-installing them. It is recommended to only delete plugins that you are certain you no longer need on your site.


Deactivating all WordPress plugins can be a valuable troubleshooting technique for pinpointing issues. You can also use it to identify essential plugins and optimize your website’s performance.

To deactivate all plugins in WordPress, you can use WordPress dashboard, FTP, phpMyAdmin, and WP-CLI. But remember, deactivation is temporary. Once you’ve achieved your goal, reactivate your plugins strategically. Considering the factors mentioned earlier to choose plugins that enhance your website without causing drawbacks.

For preventing issues due to WordPress plugins and themes, you can consult with our professional WordPress developers. We will analyze the site and ensure the best results.

Need help with your WordPress website?

Chinmay Pandya is an accomplished tech enthusiast specializing in PHP, WordPress, and Laravel. With a solid background in web development, he brings expertise in crafting innovative solutions and optimizing performance for various projects.

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