It’s in our nature to always look for the easy way out, otherwise, we wouldn’t have fairytales like the Little Red Riding Hood. When creating your website you might feel the temptation to turn to nulled themes or plugins and think that we can get away with it. But no, nothing that is done in a shady manner will ever result in success. When it comes to WordPress, we are familiar with it as it has become the most popular and the largest platform for establishing your website.
This content management system is free to download for everyone, but alongside WordPress, you also have WordPress themes and plugins that extend the functionality of your website as well as provide you with a design solution. And while the WordPress repository is filled with free WordPress themes and plugins, you also have premium WordPress themes and plugins that offer all the functionality and features you need to grow a successful website.
In this article we will assess what nulled themes and plugins are, are they legal or not, and what’s the downside of using nulled themes and plugins on your website. Although nulled themes and plugins might seem a perfect cost-effective solution, to any website owner that’s used one, has never turned out great. And we will be discussing all the cons of using nulled themes and plugins.
What are Nulled Themes and Plugins?
We’ve encountered the term so very often but what are nulled themes and plugins? The term “nulled” as defined by the dictionary means “Of no legal validity, force, or effect; nothing. As used in the phrase null and void, refers to something that binds no one or is incapable of giving rise to any rights or duties under any circumstances.” But when you put it to the WordPress context, a nulled WordPress theme or plugin are copies of premium WordPress themes and plugins that are altered by third parties and are made available for free or at a lower price.
These nulled WordPress themes and plugins are not ever distributed by the original author or developer, instead, they are distributed by third parties who wish to gain something, whether that be implant a backdoor to your website, or obtain valuable information from your site. But they are never made free to download out of goodwill. This is why marketers and website owners should keep an eye out for these nulled themes and plugins and don’t be fooled by the devil’s deal.
The premium WordPress themes and plugins are modified and altered to be used for free without a license key, on as many websites as you’d like. But don’t get confused on the fool’s errand as these types of themes and plugins are nothing but bad news to you and your website. In the later section, we will discuss all the harm you could be doing to your website and others by using nulled WordPress themes and plugins
Why You Shouldn’t Use Nulled Themes and Plugins?
Now that we defined what nulled themes and plugins are, we are ready to continue to our next section of this article. We will be exploring all the possibilities and reasons as to why you should never use a nulled WordPress theme or plugin. Nulled themes and plugins are pirated versions of premium WordPress themes and plugins that you can download and use for free or at a lower cost. Now let’s see all the harmful ways you could be ingraining your website when downloading nulled themes and plugins.
They pose a security threat to your website
First and foremost, nulled WordPress themes and plugins will pose a security threat to your website. You should always keep this fact in mind when opting for nulled WordPress themes and plugins. You can’t just rely on the goodwill of other people to release the premium themes and plugins for free. Developers are able to do whatever they want with a nulled theme and plugin, which means even inserting malicious code into the product and you won’t ever realize it until it’s too late.
You should always consider the intent behind nulled themes and plugins when you decide to download them. Within these pirated files, developers could be inserting vicious code like spammy links, a backdoor that provides unauthorized access to your site’s data, redirects to suspicious sites, or some type of malware that can steal your content and data.
And even in the best-case scenario that you are a highly knowledgeable developer, you won’t be able to trace this malicious code that easily. There’s always the risk that you might miss something from the files. And because they are so good at their job, hackers will spend their finest trick to try and hide the vicious malware so that you can’t find it.
For this reason alone you should not opt for nulled WordPress themes and plugins as you risk losing your website, especially those types of websites that handle various customer data, security should be the number one priority. It’s better to buy the actual premium theme or plugin and legitimate your website.
No Theme Updates
This does not require much logic as if you have obtained a premium theme or plugin via dubious or suspicious sources, instead of taking the legitimate way, you should know that you won’t have access whatsoever to future theme updates. In the WordPress ecosystem, updates are what keep the process going, where theme and plugin authors are always adding new features and improving their products for the sake of their clients.
WordPress creators and developers are always on the lookout for how to improve their products, how to fix common bugs, include new features, and provide their users with security patches. And if you are not a legitimate client, you most definitely won’t have any reach to these theme or plugin updates.
Nulled themes and plugins don’t have this luxury, only maybe if the hacker tracks every new update of the particular theme or plugin and uploads the file each time (which will be unlikely to happen), you will still need to manually update the nulled theme or plugin. You risk having the nulled theme or plugin outdated, which ultimately will cause accessibility issues.
WordPress is constantly being updated, and each theme or plugin used must be compatible with the latest version of WordPress, otherwise, you risk having arising issues on your website as it becomes outdated and incompatible with the rest.
You won’t receive theme support
Same as theme updates, nulled WordPress themes and plugins don’t come with a license included, thus you can’t expect to have the same privileges as users who purchase the theme do. Most of the WordPress themes and plugins provide professional support included extensive documentation and video tutorials that aim to help its clients a seamless experience while creating their website or extending its functionality with WordPress themes and plugins.
Using a nulled theme or plugin will leave you out on your own, even when you encounter issues, the support team of the particular theme or plugin won’t be there to help you fix it, because they are only available to paid customers. Some kinds of issues are most certainly bound to happen as the software becomes outdated. It’s like a dead-end road that takes you nowhere.
Nulled Themes and Plugins are bad for SEO
Pirated versions of premium WordPress themes and plugins will only harm your website, on various fronts, we’ve discussed how they can be a threat to your site’s security, how you’ll end up with an outdated version because you won’t have access to theme updates as well as theme support. Another frontier from where your website will get attacked when using nulled themes and plugins is SEO.
Search engine optimization is an important aspect of creating and building a successful website because the better your website ranks on search engines the more likely are the chances for it to be introduced to a wider audience, which brings more traffic and ultimately more leads. The first disadvantage we mentioned was the security threat and we said that hackers are in charge of a nulled themes or plugin’s code and they can insert any malware into it.
Nulled themes and plugins will have incorporated spammy links within your website or redirect your users to malicious websites, which are considered bad SEO practices. Unfortunately, these activities are hard to detect, and you won’t be able to notice them because they hide these links well into the code to make them undetectable and you will not be redirected to those spammy websites when you log in on your WordPress website.
However, search engines on the other hand are good at detecting spammy links and malicious redirects, thus they will penalize your website for having such links on your website either by dropping your rankings or by de-indexing your site completely. Revitalizing your website from this decrease in SEO points will take lots of time and effort, or you will even need to create another website from scratch.
You might encounter Legal Issues
We should set this straight, technically, nulled themes and plugins are not illegal. Let’s take a look at why. Probably on other instances creating a pirated version of the software is illegal, in the case of nulled WordPress themes and plugins it is not breaking the law, and that’s because there’s a caveat with WordPress themes and plugins. Premium WordPress themes and plugins are most often licensed under the GPL (General Public License) license, which means to put it simply, it allows for unrestricted and free distribution of the software it covers.
WordPress themes and plugins are issued under this license because the WordPress software itself is issued under the same terms and because it is a requirement being featured in its marketplace. While for premium plugins it is not a requirement to be issued under this license, but since most of them also provide a free version in the WordPress repository, that’s the reason they must include the GPL license on their products.
But yet again this does not include all themes, because while the majority of them are open-source, some of the WordPress themes are sold with mixed licenses. This means that some part of the code is protected by copyright laws and if you are using a nulled theme, you don’t have the legal permission to do so.
Your client’s credentials are at risk
Nulled themes and plugins will have different kinds of malicious code inside the file that’s hard to detect. One of the most dangerous malware included within nulled themes and plugins is one that steals information from your website without you even realizing it. These codes have the ability to steal data from your website here including the usernames and passwords.
The case becomes even more alarming when you are running an eCommerce online store or a membership website because in such instances all the information of your member clients will be at risk. It’s quite difficult to detect these kinds of hacks because your website might be working properly and you won’t even suspect it.
To avoid such inconvenience, it’s more advisable for you to not use nulled themes and plugins, especially if you run a website that deals with confidential information.
You are undermining the developer’s work
This is also an ethical question of whether or not to use nulled themes and plugins. It might seem and harmless and innocent at first, but besides all the harmful things you can do to your website, you can also harm the developers and authors of that particular theme or plugin.
They work hard to develop these products and spend money to run their business. This will discourage them from creating new and innovative products and introduce them to the market. It is a simple download click for you, but you are not only undermining the hard work of these developers, but you are also taking part in stealing their precious work.
The more common it becomes for people to download nulled themes and plugins for free and integrate them onto their website, the less it pays off for developers to do their work and create new and compelling products. This results in hurting the WordPress ecosystem of themes and plugins, features that allow the platform to thrive and expand.
Exceptions when you can use nulled themes and plugin
Before we continue with this section we must state that we do not whatsoever support the use of nulled themes, especially if it means damaging the WordPress ecosystem and the developers who work hard to create these products. As we’ve seen throughout the entire article no good thing can arise from downloading a nulled theme or plugin. But if you wanna catch us on small details we will make a simple and logical exception.
Yet there’s a small loophole as to when you can use nulled themes and plugins and be acceptable. Since a lot of premium WordPress themes and plugins are restricted and do not provide a free trial, the only case scenario where you can use nulled themes or plugins is if you are a freelancer, WordPress developer, or agency, and you wish to present your whether or not a particular premium theme or plugin will work for your client.
Sometimes premium themes and plugins can be a bit pricey, especially if you are just starting out, and you are not sure whether or not your client will approve of the project. You can test out a nulled theme or plugin but only do that in a staging website.
You can create your presentation, implement the desired theme or the plugin and present it to your clients. If they approve of your work, then you can continue with the purchase of the theme or plugin, and if not, no harm no foul. In other cases, it is never advisable nor ethical to use nulled themes and plugins.
Alternatives to Nulled Themes & Plugins
WordPress is a large repository of themes and plugins that extend its functionality and serve your website as the ultimate design solution to attract visitors and increase leads. The abundance of free WordPress themes and plugins will make for a great alternative to nulled products.
If you are saving up for your business, and are on the lookout for a capable free WordPress theme you can always try its diverse ecosystem of themes and plugins to find one that suits your needs.
Besides, most of the premium plugins also provide a free version that’s equally powerful but of course with scarcity in features for the free version. Using the free alternatives to premium themes and plugins will lessen the legal burden of nulled products and will not harm your website in any way.
While it can be quite tempting to download a free nulled version of a premium theme or plugin if you intend on building and managing a successful website we don’t advise you to go down that road. WordPress has in its large repository some quite powerful and capable free themes and plugins, that you can use without ever compromising the wellbeing of your website.
In this article, we laid down all the disadvantages of using nulled themes and plugins on your website and we hope by the end of this article you’ve reflected on what’s better for you and your website. Although it seems like an irresistible offer, keep in mind that nothing ever comes for free and out of a free will.
There’s always a catch to nulled themes and plugins where hackers could be implanting malicious code or malware for vicious intents and you risk not realizing it until it is too late. Keep an eye open to these kinds of products and always protect and keep your website safe.