“There’s no such thing as free lunch.” – Now, there’s a saying that’s often forgotten in the online realm, where it takes a single click to download pirated products for free.
In the world of content management systems, the basic offer includes free and premium options. The free versions often don’t offer the right amount of flexibility and features to build a professional website. On the other hand, the premium versions can be too expensive for beginners or those with a thin budget.
To ensure a win-win situation. Many businesses and bloggers turn to nulled WordPress themes and plugins, which are pirated versions of premium products. They believe that by combining premium options with free products, they’re getting the best of both worlds. But is that the case?
Reasons Not to Use Nulled WordPress Themes and Plugins
Here’s why the reasons for avoiding pirated versions far outweigh the benefits of using them.
Piracy Is Not a Victimless Crime
This sign used for movies can easily be applied to CMS features. If you think that using pirated versions of some product doesn’t harm anyone, try looking at the bigger picture.
Firstly, the developers creating the themes and plugins are working hard to create something innovative and useful. The people distributing pirated versions are essentially stealing their work.
Personal ethics aside, this practice also hurts the entire WordPress ecosystem because they are sabotaging a thriving industry. When you refuse to pay for a product, you’re refusing to compensate the creators for their work. Developers depend on a proper incentive to write code and offer support for the software, and without it, there’s a risk that the quality standards for the entire industry will plummet.
A Slippery Legal Ground
Similar to the filmmaking industry, piracy of WordPress software can bring serious legal issues. But unlike films or music. Most of the software pieces are open-source and available for use to everyone. Proponents of digital piracy will use the GPL license as the key argument in defense of downloading nulled software. However, this is a fallacious and deceptive claim.
The majority of WordPress products rely on mixed licenses and are protected by copyright laws. It means that by installing nulled products, you are most likely going to be using the code without a license. As you’re opting for a product without permission, the copyright holders have grounds for suing you.
While we still haven’t seen similar lawsuits, we can expect things to change with the arrival of more sophisticated copyright algorithms. Which will make it easier to identify and track pirated pieces of software on websites.
A Threat to the Security and Integrity of Your Website
Nulled software is pirated and distributed through unofficial sources. This makes it fertile soil for hackers to embed malicious code.
As a small business owner operating on a shoestring budget and knowing the importance of having a quality blog, you might find it tempting to get a premium version of a product for free. However, before downloading a nulled product, ask yourself: what is the motivation of someone who is distributing it without an authorization?
While it may seem like the software is working perfectly fine in the beginning. There could be various damaging processes running in the background and infecting your files. This leaves your website vulnerable to data breaches, which are often impossible for small businesses to handle.
Nulled Software May Affect Website Functionality
Who are the people distributing nulled software for free? Are they as proficient as the professionals? Do they have malicious intentions? Themes and plugins from unofficial sources are more likely to have malfunctions or code errors, which can affect the functionality and speed of your website.
While the majority of these problems can seemingly be solved by uninstalling the faulty plugins or themes and substituting them with more trustworthy equivalents. The damage could already be done by then.
There Is Nobody to Provide You With Support
Functionality issues are easier to fix when you have a warranty, and you’re sure that you can count on support from the service providers. When you purchase a legal version of the products, these things are given to you by default.
Even with plenty of experience on the platform, you can easily find yourself stuck on a problem with its products. Unless you want to be wrestling with that for days, you’ll want support from the product creators.
In the case of nulled WordPress themes and plugins. No one is responsible for malfunctions, and no one is there to “pick up when you call.”
Updates Are Not Available to You
Besides lacking the support and documentation, the product creators can provide. You’re also deprived of new versions of the products, which are released regularly. These improved versions offer better security, new features, enhanced performance, and bug fixes.
An outdated version of a theme or plugin will also be incompatible with new versions of WordPress, as well as other products you try to install. A far more significant problem is that using an old version of WP is leaving your website vulnerable to cyberattacks because hackers already know the “holes” in the old versions.
And if you overlook website maintenance, you might fall behind the competitors who will attract more traffic.
Nulled Software Is Bad for SEO
It’s a tough market out there and everyone, especially small business owners and independent entrepreneurs, is doing their best to be more visible online. It’s essential that you choose an SEO-friendly theme in the first place, but if you opt for nulled versions, you’ll be risking a drop in search rankings.
More often than not, the anonymous distributors of pirated software inject the product with code and scripts in charge of running their spam links and ads. This makes a WordPress website with pirated pieces of software prone to crashes, annoying pop-ups, and performance issues.
Malicious links are, most frequently, embedded profoundly into the structure of the site and camouflaged as regular links. They can exist and redirect visitors to websites the perpetrator has chosen without you even noticing. Still, sophisticated search engine algorithms will quickly detect these bugs and eventually penalize a website by lowering its ranking or even completely de-indexing it.
A company owner from Moldova shared his experience about how unnatural links in WordPress themes almost ruined his business, and how they managed to recover. It can prove to be a valuable read.
What you need to know is that it might take weeks or even months to get back on your feet after the drop. You may even have to build an entirely new website from scratch.
As alluring as they might be, nulled WordPress themes and plugins will do more harm than good. The consequences can be instant and far-reaching as well – from infecting your website with bugs and malicious code to affecting the entire WordPress ecosystem. When you think about it. It’s better to use a free version until you can gather the resources to invest in the premium one.