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WordPress Nulled Themes: Should you use them in 2024?

WordPress Nulled Themes: Should You Use Them
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Nulled themes and plugins for WordPress are everywhere, and they're either cheap or provided for free, but are they safe? The answer lies in the way you're going to be using them.

It’s 2024, and with a quick search, you can easily find a plethora of websites providing free or low-cost WordPress themes that otherwise you’d have to pay more to get. Also known as nulled themes, users can download and install them on their WordPress websites, but are they safe and should you actually use them?

What is a nulled theme and how Does it differ from the original?

Put simply, a nulled theme is actually the original theme, but with a couple of differences. First and foremost, it’s not being supported by the developers that created it, it is being provided by someone you don’t know, and many times it has been adjusted to work without a license key. Apart from that, a nulled theme usually has all the options, features, and settings the original theme has, and it should work just as fine.

For example, let’s say that you see a beautiful and professional-looking theme on ThemeForest, and it costs around $60.00 to get it. With a bit of searching, you can easily find the same theme for only $5.00 or less, but should you get it? Well, that depends, but I’ll get to that in a minute. If you purchase it, you simply have bought its latest version that, unlike ThemeForest, doesn’t contain anything support-related and you’ll have to fix all the issues by yourself.

Nulled themes can also be installed the same way as original themes, as you simply upload and activate them. Many of them have both options, the official files and the nulled files, with the second meaning that it’s already pre-activated with some coding tweaks and can immediately be used. For example, if you install the original files of a nulled theme without having a license, you may be unable to import its demo files, while with the nulled files, you’ll basically have all the options.

Are WordPress Nulled Themes safe to use?

Nulled themes, for WordPress or any other platforms, most of the time contain malicious code, backdoors, and vulnerabilities that any hacker can exploit to gain access to your website. As a web developer specializing in creating and optimizing WordPress websites for over 15 years now, I’ve seen many times big e-commerce stores getting hacked for fun.

Just because they thought it was a smart idea to pay $5.00 for the theme’s latest nulled version rather than paying $60.00 to get the original version with all the upcoming updates and support. Lots of times I’ve seen hackers only obtain access when a website starts having high traffic, which they manipulate by showing ads or redirecting the non-logged-in visitors.

Think about it, why would anyone buy a premium WordPress theme and then provide it for free or for low cost? And could you ever trust a third-party website that has no official source about its existence providing a theme for such a low cost? There are a few websites that will give you clean nulled files though, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

How could I use a WordPress Nulled Theme with safety?

Nulled themes are pretty neat when it comes to checking out themes that otherwise you’ll have to buy to try. It happened to me many times in the past; Buying a WordPress theme from marketplaces such as ThemeForest, only to find out that it’s full of bugs, it doesn’t work as expected, or it has missing features that I wasn’t expecting to be missing.

There’s a great way to check out nulled themes without worrying if they contain malware, backdoors, or any other vulnerabilities, and that’s by installing and trying them in a locally hosted environment. To do that, you can use free tools such as XAMPP, which can easily be installed and configured to work with WordPress, and it will give you the option to install as many WordPress websites as you want. You can then install security plugins such as WordFence to check if there’s any malicious code in the theme, and you can simply remove it with the tool.

Unfortunately, though, not even WordFence can give you a 100% safety check when it comes to nulled themes. There may be a backdoor that it didn’t find, and that would put your live website at risk if you decide to install your nulled theme there. Another way is to install advanced security tools on your server, such as the ImunifyAV Plesk extension, which most usually detects and removes any malicious code found. Either way, having it installed in a local-hosted environment will protect your live website and you can test the theme for as long as you want.

Is it legal to use Nulled Themes on WordPress?

Yes, and no. The thing with WordPress is that most themes and plugins are released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL is a free software license that allows users to freely use, modify, and distribute software. This means that, from a purely legal standpoint, distributing and using modified (nulled) versions of GPL-licensed software can be legal.

Other than that, if you download and use a nulled theme or a plugin that hasn’t been released under the GPL and that restricts unauthorized redistribution and usage, using it without permission it’s illegal in most cases. That puts you in a bigger danger, you know, apart from having to deal with security risks, you’ll have to also deal with lawyers and courts.

Where can I find cheap nulled themes for WordPress?

Again, it’s not recommended to use a nulled theme on your live WordPress website to avoid any future hacking, malware injection, and so much more. I don’t think I should remind you how hardcore the Internet has become in the last few years. But if you’re looking at testing a theme before buying it, then I suppose the wpnull.org/en/ website is the best choice around.

I’ve used this website many times in the past I didn’t find any malicious code in the files, other than some adjustments such as removing or altering specific parts of the code that had to do with the license. What I also liked is that if they have to adjust a theme to look like it’s being activated with a license, they give you two zip files, one with the original theme and its files and a nulled version.

They were also pretty quick when it came to providing support, but I just tested that to see their response times and how helpful they were. They did pretty good. They have over 2,000 nulled themes and plugins that you can easily purchase, download, and install on your WordPress website, but keep things secure by only installing them on your local-hosted environment. If you like what you see, go and purchase a license that comes with updates, support, and “absolute” security.

Conclusion…

When it comes to nulled themes and plugins, they can be the perfect solution when it comes to ensuring that they work for you and your needs. They’re not meant to be used in live websites and by people without the necessary skills to look at the files and code and understand if something’s not right. And no, don’t wait for your Windows Anti-Virus software to detect such kinds of files, but you can always take an extra look by scanning them with ViralTotal.

If you don’t want to spend your money on a theme or plugin that may not be the best choice for your needs, simply install a local-hosted WordPress site using free tools like the one that I’ve mentioned, and do as many tests as you’d like. I would also suggest never putting your credit card information on any website that you do not trust, and only using pre-paid cards or 1-time debit cards.

Have you ever downloaded and used a nulled theme or plugin? What was your experience and did you notice anything different than the original version? Let me know in the comments below.

Panos Sakalakis

Meet Panos Sakalakis, a web wizard, blogging buff, podcasting pro, and SEO sorcerer with over 15 years of enchanting experience. When he's not weaving digital spells with his keyboard, you'll likely spot him conquering mountain trails with his trusty Hard-Trail MTB bike, in hot pursuit of the ultimate adrenaline rush and the perfect blog post inspiration.

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