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Is It Safe to Use Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins?

Is It Safe to Use Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins?

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There are three types of WordPress themes and plugins: free, premium, and nulled.

Free and premium WordPress themes and plugins are normally safe to use. On the other hand, nulled ones are usually unsafe and even illegal to both distribute and use.

Even so, there’s a pretty big demand for them, judging by the monthly searches from Google’s Keyword Planner tool.

monthly searches for nulled wordpress themes and plugins
Monthly searches for nulled WordPress themes and plugins

As you can see from the above screenshot, there are between 1,000 and 10,000 searches per month just for the broad keywords “nulled WordPress themes” and “nulled WordPress plugins”.

Those break into more targeted keywords, such as “Elementor Pro nulled”, “WPML nulled”, “Slider Revolution nulled”, and so on.

This means that a lot of WordPress websites use nulled themes and plugins, which is pretty scary because they expose themselves to all sorts of harmful stuff, as you’ll see in this post.

What Are Nulled WordPress Themes and Plugins

Before proceeding to the main topic, allow me to explain a bit what nulled WordPress themes and plugins are for those of you that don’t know exactly.

Nulled WordPress themes and plugins are pirated copies of the official, premium versions. It’s similar to movies, games, or software that you can find on web torrents. For software and games, you’ll hear the term “cracked” instead of “nulled”.

Basically, someone distributes the paid version of the theme or plugin for free on forums, sites, social media, etc. Some might even ask for money but much less than the premium version actually costs.

Some WordPress themes and plugins need hacking

Nowadays, most WordPress themes and plugins need some sort of verification in order to activate them. For example, you might need to enter a license key that you get from your account after purchasing the product.

In cases like that, someone needs to hack the WordPress theme or plugin to make it nulled. After that, the theme or plugin is ready for distribution, and it can be used with all features enabled, without entering any license key.

Some WordPress themes and plugins don’t need any hacking at all

Take StudioPress themes, for example. The child themes get updated very rarely, and they allow unlimited usage. So, when you buy one, you just need to download and install the theme. There’s no activation required.

In cases like that, someone could simply just buy a WordPress theme, download it, and then upload it somewhere where others can download it for free or at a lower price.

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Why Aren’t Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins Safe

I can’t think of a reason why nulled WordPress themes and plugins are safe to use. But I can think of several reasons why they aren’t.

1. Security

The thing you need to fear the most at nulled WordPress themes and plugins is security.

Most people who distribute premium WordPress themes and plugins for free don’t do it because they’re kind and thoughtful, and just want to help people with low budgets.

They do it because they insert malware in the code, which helps them out in different ways. That type of malicious code can do all sorts of stuff, such as:

  • Add links to other websites for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes;
  • Add affiliate links to generate income for them;
  • Add ad banners, popup ads, and other types of advertisement;
  • Gain access to your website and its data, such as username and passwords, credit card details, addresses, etc.;
  • Delete all your data after some time, just for fun;
  • Mine cryptocurrencies, which impacts your site’s and computer’s performance.

Those are just some security issues off the top of my head. The list can get longer.

2. SEO

Having malicious code into your nulled WordPress theme or plugin can lead to serious SEO issues.

If search engines detect malware, popup ads, hidden links, and whatnot, you’ll most likely get a penalty, and your site could get downgraded from the search results or completely taken off.

Adding your WordPress site to Google Search Console is a must because it lets you know if something’s wrong with your site, including if some type of malware is found.

That tool should be used regardless if you’re using nulled WordPress themes and plugins or not. That’s because your WordPress site, like any other site, can always get hacked due to other factors.

3. User Privacy

User privacy has to do with security. If the nulled WordPress theme or plugin contains malware that allows hackers to gain access to your users’ personal information, then you’re in a lot of trouble.

You can get sued, especially if you knowingly used a nulled theme or plugin, which are known for their security risks.

User privacy is a sensitive subject and highly regulated area. Taking risks with it is like playing with fire.

I never understood licensing properly. They’re confusing to me. Some are open-source and free, but not that free…

Anyway, most WordPress themes and plugins, both free and paid, that are developed for the public are based on the GPL (General Public License) license, which comes with some freedom of use.

But I’m sure that it doesn’t include the freedom to buy a premium version, hack it, then distribute it for free or sell it at a lower price. It’s just common sense that there will be some legal issue with that, which can get both the distributor and user in trouble.

So, if you don’t want to risk legal problems, don’t use nulled WordPress themes and plugins.

5. No Frequent or Automatic Updates

Most free or premium WordPress themes and plugins get updated very often. The developers need to ensure compatibility with the latest WordPress version, fix bugs, improve performance, fix potential security issues, and add new features.

With free or premium themes and plugins, the updates will also be performed automatically. You just need to click a button or even enable auto-updates, depending on the case.

That doesn’t happen with nulled WordPress themes and plugins. The person who hacks the theme or plugin to make it nulled only hacks a particular version. If you want to update to a newer version, you’ll need that version nulled as well.

So, you won’t get frequent or automatic updates for nulled WordPress themes and plugins. This means that:

  • If you update WordPress, the theme or plugin might become incompatible;
  • You won’t get fixes for potential bugs;
  • You won’t get fixes for potential security issues;
  • You won’t get the newest features;
  • You won’t get performance improvements.

6. No Support

Virtually all premium WordPress themes and plugins come with support, in case you need help. Many developers even offer support for their free themes or plugins. And, trust me, you’ll need support at some point.

You won’t get that with nulled WordPress themes and plugins. I highly doubt that the ones who distribute them will offer you support.

And even if you seek help from the official channels, the developers will most likely check if you actually bought their product before offering you help.

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Why Is so Much Demand for Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins if They’re Not Safe to Use

The main reason why a pretty high demand for nulled WordPress themes and plugins still exists is, of course, money.

Even if the majority of premium WordPress themes and plugins are inexpensive or downright cheap, a lot of people have a low income with a lot of expenses or other subscriptions that are more important.

Sure, $60 per year doesn’t seem much, but when you add a bunch of other stuff that require tens of dollars per year or month, the total can get pretty high. So, they prefer risking it with a nulled WordPress theme or plugin.

Another reason is testing. Some premium themes and plugins don’t have free versions, and some people don’t want to spend money on something that they can’t see and test first. So, they search for the nulled version to check things out.

Hackers also have their reasons to keep the supply high with as many nulled WordPress themes and plugins as possible. The main reasons are money and access to data, such as emails, credit cards, and whatnot.

Free Alternatives Are Much Better, Especially for Themes

free wordpress themes

I can understand the temptation for a nulled WordPress plugin if the free version doesn’t offer what you need, and you don’t have money for the premium version.

That’s because those premium features might be unique and exactly what you need. You might not find them in another plugin.

When it comes to WordPress themes, the situation is different. You can create a great site with good, free themes, such as GeneratePress, Astra, and others.

That’s because WordPress themes handle design, and you don’t need that many design features. You can create a good-looking website using just the WordPress editor. Or, you can use the free versions of GenerateBlocks or Elementor, two page builders that have enough free features to create an awesome site.

All you need is a WordPress theme that:

  • Is light and optimized;
  • Offers a header and footer. Virtually all of them do;
  • (Bonus) Allows you to change the font and some global colors.

That’s it. What goes between the header and footer can be created with the WordPress editor or page builders mentioned above. Moreover, in the near future, WordPress will implement the Full Site Editing feature, allowing you to customize the entire site using the built-in editor.

And for extra functionality, such as a contact form, image gallery, and so on, you can use free plugins. And there are a ton of free, good plugins.

If you’re a beginner who isn’t familiar with the WordPress world yet, I recommend only searching in the official WordPress repository for free themes and plugins. They’re reviewed by the WordPress team.

You can also access them from inside your WordPress dashboard, by going to Plugins or Appearance > Themes.

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The End

As you can see, there are many reasons why nulled WordPress themes and plugins aren’t safe, therefore shouldn’t be used. It’s a risky and dangerous choice.

If you really need more features that are only found in a premium version, I recommend waiting until you have enough money for the premium. It’s worth it, and it will pay off.

Most of you will find everything you need in the free versions, trust me. You only need to do some research.

If you have questions or thoughts, feel free to drop a comment below.

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Hey! I'm Radu, and I've been working with WordPress at personal and professional levels for over 8 years now. I'm a seller on ReadyShip, and I'm also writing posts for their blog, which I hope you'll like. You can find more about me at I'm also quietly on Twitter @RaduWP.

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