Excited by WordPress must-have plugins? No, I’m not speaking about the important plugins that every one WordPress websites want, I’m speaking a couple of little-known WordPress core characteristic known as mu-plugins.

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In a nutshell, WordPress mu-plugins, or must-have plugins when you take pleasure in extraneous typing, allow you to power activate sure options in your web site. Neither you nor pesky purchasers could have the flexibility to disable mu-plugins from inside your WordPress dashboard – they’re simply at all times on! You may, after all, nonetheless disable them. You’ll simply want to join through FTP to do it.

On this submit, I’ll dig deeper into what WordPress mu-plugins are and why they’re helpful. Then, I’ll present you how one can begin utilizing mu-plugins in your web site (or your purchasers’ websites).

What Are WordPress mu-plugins?

As I discussed within the intro, WordPress mu-plugins allow you to power a plugin to at all times be activated. What’s extra, it’s inconceivable to deactivate an mu-plugin from contained in the WordPress dashboard.

If you would like to deactivate a plugin, you’d want to join to your server through FTP and do it that approach (extra on why that’s once I get to the tutorial).

In case you’re aware of WordPress multisite, you is perhaps saying, “hey, that sounds rather a lot like what occurs once I community activate a plugin on my multisite community.”

You’d be proper – WordPress mu-plugins initially began as a characteristic that was completely for WordPress multisite. In truth, again then, the “mu” in mu-plugins stood for “multi-user”, not “must-have”.

Nonetheless, WordPress mu-plugins have long-since been a characteristic that common WordPress installs can use as effectively.

Usually, builders will use must-use plugins for single-file plugins, like some important customized code snippets that you just don’t need to put in your theme’s capabilities.php file.

Nonetheless, with the suitable setup, you can too flip common plugins into must-use plugins. For instance, when you use one thing just like the WP Fail2Ban Redux plugin for safety, you may want to make {that a} must-use plugin to assure that it’s at all times lively in your web site.

Key Technical Variations Between Common Plugins and mu-plugins

Listed here are some essential technical variations to perceive between common WordPress plugins and must-use plugins.


  • Use a special folder inside wp-content (extra on this within the tutorial)
  • Are loaded earlier than common WordPress plugins, which is essential when you want to execute code earlier than common plugins.
  • Do not use activation or deactivation hooks like common plugins. In case you want to use these hooks, you must stick to an everyday plugin.
  • Do not replace robotically (nor will you obtain replace notifications from WordPress). You would want to manually replace them through FTP.

One other essential distinction is that, past utilizing a special folder, mu-plugins additionally use a barely completely different folder construction than common plugins. By default, the principle plugin file should be in the principle mu-plugins folder – it might’t be in a subfolder like common plugins.

Nonetheless, there are answers to get round this, which I’ll share within the tutorial part.

Why Use WordPress mu-plugins? What Are the Advantages?

One of many huge benefits of must-use plugins is that they’re at all times on. So when you have a little bit of code that’s completely integral to the functioning of your web site, you in all probability don’t need it to be attainable for somebody to disable the plugin that incorporates that code.

With an mu-plugin, it’s just about inconceivable for that to occur by accident. The one approach to cease the code from loading is to join to your server immediately and delete the file.

In case you construct shopper websites and provides them full admin entry, this additionally eliminates the possibility for them to go in and by accident break one thing.

For instance, you may’ve written a customized plugin that features some essential snippets that your web site completely wants – a must-use plugin might be an excellent resolution then to keep away from any points.

There are additionally some extra technical advantages to utilizing mu-plugins. For instance, you may want to use a must-use plugin in order for you to power a plugin’s code to run earlier than your common plugins.

Some hosts/server management panels can even use mu-plugins for key helper plugins. For instance, I host some websites with SpinupWP and SpinupWP makes use of an mu-plugin for its helper plugin.

How to Create WordPress mu-plugins

Now that I’ve piqued your curiosity, let’s get into how to create a WordPress must-have plugin.

1. Join to Your Server By way of FTP

To get began, you’ll want to join to your server utilizing FTP or one thing like cPanel File Supervisor.

In case you’re unsure how to do this, try our information to WordPress FTP entry.

2. Create a New mu-plugins Folder

When you’ve linked to your server, go to the wp-content folder. Inside that folder, you must see the common plugins folder. Nonetheless, you’re not going to use that folder.

As an alternative, right-click and create a brand new folder identify mu-plugin:

Create the mu-plugin folder

When you’ve finished that, you must see each the plugins folder and the brand new mu-plugins folder:

two folders for plugins

3. Add Your Must-Use Plugin

Now, all you want to do is add the file(s) on your must-use plugin(s) to the mu-plugins folder.

Right here, you may see two instance plugins:

  1. A plugin known as cool-example-plugin.php that I created for this instance.
  2. A debug plugin added by SpinupWP (once more, SpinupWP robotically provides this as a result of I host my websites there).

Example of WordPress mu-plugins

Keep in mind – by default, the principle plugin file should be within the mu-plugins folder, which is completely different from common WordPress plugins. You can not simply take the folder for an everyday plugin and add it like you may to the common plugins. folder.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply you may’t use subdirectories – you’ll simply want to use your personal loader. For the only approach to do this, try this GitHub web page. This provides you a must-use plugin that permits you to embrace all plugins inside subdirectories within the mu-plugins folder.

When you add the must_use_loader.php file to the mu-plugins folder, you’ll give you the chance to add common plugins in subdirectories and use them as must-use plugins:

4. View Your Must-Use Plugins

Whilst you can not disable must-use plugins out of your WordPress dashboard, you may view a listing of all of your mu-plugins from the dashboard.

When you’ve added your first mu-plugin, you’ll get a brand new Must-Use tab within the common WordPress Plugins space:

Viewing WordPress mu-plugins in the dashboard

Get Began With WordPress mu-plugins As we speak

WordPress mu-plugins are a great tool for options and plugins that you really want to 100% make sure that are at all times activated in your web site.

They’re additionally surprisingly simple to use – all you want to do is create a brand new mu-plugins folder in wp-content and add your must-use plugins to that folder. Nonetheless, in order for you to add common plugins in subdirectories, make sure that to use a loader in order that WordPress will acknowledge them.

Nonetheless have any questions on WordPress mu-plugins? Do you utilize must-use plugins in your tasks? Tell us within the feedback!

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