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How to Disable WordPress Plugins (No Access to WP-Admin Dashboard)

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If you’re a WordPress user, you’re probably well-acquainted with the power of plugins. These handy little tools allow you to extend the functionality of your website, adding features and capabilities that would otherwise be impossible. However, sometimes things can go wrong – perhaps a plugin is causing an error, or maybe you just want to disable it temporarily. Whatever the reason, there are a few different ways to disable WordPress plugins when you don’t have access to the WP-Admin dashboard.

Use FTP or SFTP to Access Your Site’s Files

WordPress FTP Connection

One of the simplest ways to disable WordPress plugins is to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) to access your site’s files. Both of these protocols allow you to connect to your web server and browse the files on it, just as you would with a local folder on your computer.

To get started, you’ll need an FTP client – there are many free options available, such as FileZilla or Cyberduck. Once you have a client installed, you’ll need to enter your FTP credentials – these should be provided by your web host.

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Once you’re connected to your server, navigate to the wp-content/plugins folder. This is where all of your installed plugins are stored. To disable a plugin, simply rename the folder that contains it – for example, you could add .disabled to the end of the folder name. This will effectively deactivate the plugin, as WordPress will no longer be able to find it when it scans for available plugins.

Use the WordPress Command Line Interface (WP-CLI)

If you’re comfortable with the command line, another option is to use the WordPress command line interface (WP-CLI). This tool allows you to perform various WordPress-related tasks from the command prompt, including disabling and activating plugins.

To use WP-CLI, you’ll need to have it installed on your server. If you’re not sure if it’s already installed, you can try running the wp --info command – if WP-CLI is installed, it will display some information about your WordPress installation. If it’s not installed, you can usually install it by running a command like apt-get install wp-cli (on a Debian-based system) or yum install wp-cli (on a Red Hat-based system).

Once WP-CLI is installed, you can disable a plugin by running the wp plugin deactivate PLUGIN-NAME command, where PLUGIN-NAME is the name of the plugin you want to disable. For example, to disable the akismet plugin, you would run wp plugin deactivate akismet.

Edit the Database Directly

WordPress Database Tables

If you don’t have access to FTP or WP-CLI, another option is to edit the database directly. This is a more advanced technique, and should only be attempted if you’re comfortable with SQL and have a good understanding of how your WordPress database is structured.

To get started, you’ll need to connect to your database using a tool like PHPMyAdmin or the MySQL command line interface. Once you’re connected, you’ll need to find the wp_options table and edit the active_plugins option. This option is a serialized array that lists all of the active plugins on your site.

To disable a plugin, simply remove its folder name from the array. For example, if you want to disable the akismet plugin, you would need to find the active_plugins row in the wp_options table, and remove 'akismet/akismet.php' from the serialized array.

It’s important to note that the active_plugins option is just one of many WordPress options stored in the wp_options table – there are hundreds of other options in this table, so be careful not to modify anything else unless you know what you’re doing.

Once you’ve edited the active_plugins option, you can save your changes and refresh your WordPress site to see the plugin deactivated.

Use a Plugin to Disable Other Plugins

If all else fails, you can try using a plugin to disable other plugins. This is a bit of a roundabout method, but it can be effective if you don’t have any other way to access your site’s files or database.

There are a few different plugins that allow you to disable other plugins from the WordPress front-end. One option is the “Plugin Disabler” plugin, which allows you to disable any plugin on your site with just a few clicks. Simply install the plugin, navigate to the “Plugins” page in your WordPress dashboard, and use the checkboxes to select the plugins you want to disable.

Another option is the “Easy Plugin Deactivation” plugin, which adds a “Deactivate” link to each plugin on the “Plugins” page. This can be a convenient way to quickly disable and re-enable plugins as needed.

It’s worth noting that these types of plugin-disabling plugins may not work if the plugin you’re trying to disable is causing errors or conflicts on your site. In these cases, you may need to use one of the other methods outlined above to disable the problematic plugin.

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Contact Your Web Host for Assistance

If you’re still unable to disable your WordPress plugins, it may be time to seek help from your web host. Many web hosts offer support for WordPress-specific issues, and they may be able to help you disable a plugin or troubleshoot any problems you’re experiencing.

To contact your web host for assistance, you’ll need to log into your hosting account and look for a “support” or “contact” link. From there, you should be able to open a ticket or chat with a support representative to get the help you need.

In Conclusion

Disabling WordPress plugins can be a useful troubleshooting technique when things go wrong on your site. While the WP-Admin dashboard is the most convenient way to manage your plugins, there are a few different methods you can use if you don’t have access to the dashboard. Whether you use FTP or SFTP, the WordPress command line interface (WP-CLI), or one of the other methods outlined in this article, there are plenty of options available to help you disable WordPress plugins when you don’t have access to the WP-Admin dashboard.

One final tip: before you start disabling plugins, it’s a good idea to make a backup of your site. This will ensure that you have a fallback in case anything goes wrong during the process. There are many different ways to create backups of your WordPress site, including plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy, or by manually copying your site’s files and database.

In the end, the method you choose to disable WordPress plugins will depend on your particular situation and what tools and resources are available to you. With a little bit of knowledge and some careful planning, you should be able to disable any plugin on your site – even if you don’t have access to the WP-Admin dashboard.

Picture of Katerina Valeria
Katerina Valeria
Hi there! My name is Catherine and I am a professional content creator with a focus on WordPress. I write blog articles for Gloria Themes, sharing my knowledge and expertise on all things related to this popular website platform.

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