Is There Any Danger in Using a Free WordPress Theme?

21 replies
I have found some free wordpress themes that are nicer that some paid one's that I have seen. My question is, is there any danger in installing a free wordpress theme as far as virus and spyware issues?
#danger #free #theme #wordpress
  • Profile picture of the author Kezz
    It's a lot like free software really - the trick is to ensure you acquire themes from professional and reputable sources.

    Yes, it is possible to get nasties should you inadvertently download from an unscrupulous dev, so you just need to do your homework a bit. Do a Google search on the theme name and see what comes up.

    And secondly, always make sure you are downloading from the original source.
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  • Profile picture of the author coloradoseo
    To try to mitigate the risk of free WordPress templatres I would only use templates or themes from the very most well known WordPress template sites. Or better yet get a paid theme they're very inexpensive and worth the investment in starting a new website.

    You could also use Wordpress.org themes from ....wordpress.org/extend/themes/ which should be free of problems and free of cost.
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  • Profile picture of the author williamstraus
    Not really. There are some caveats with Wordpress themes:

    1) Cracked/Nulled versions often have links to spammy sites - if you link and connect to "bad neighborhoods" you'll hurt your rankings.

    2) Some of the sites that distribute themes daily are rigged like this also.

    But in general if you go off and grab a free theme from Wordpress.org you're good to go.

    My two favorite free themes are Cordobo Green Park and the standard 2011 theme that comes with WP.

    -Will
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  • Profile picture of the author Benjamin Ehinger
    Not dangerous at all. Many people use free wordpress themes and you are right there are some very nice ones out there.

    Benjamin Ehinger
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  • Profile picture of the author kokopelli
    Originally Posted by Benjamin Ehinger

    Not dangerous at all.
    Sorry, but I have to disagree, and think it is down-right reckless to suggest all free WordPress themes are harmless - many (most?) free WP themes available on the internet these days contain encrypted code or, at the least, third-party links or ads somewhere. (Not talking about free themes from the official WordPress theme directory, of course)

    Some of that code simply creates links/ads in the footer/sidebar/elsewhere, but many times they have a more sinister purpose and can load all kind of "nasties", like someone earlier said, including malware.

    If I download a free theme, I always check for obfuscated code manually, but also use the TAC plugin.
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by kokopelli View Post

      Sorry, but I have to disagree, and think it is down-right reckless to suggest all free WordPress themes are harmless - many (most?) free WP themes available on the internet these days contain encrypted code or, at the least, third-party links or ads somewhere. (Not talking about free themes from the official WordPress theme directory, of course)

      Some of that code simply creates links/ads in the footer/sidebar/elsewhere, but many times they have a more sinister purpose and can load all kind of "nasties", like someone earlier said, including malware.

      If I download a free theme, I always check for obfuscated code manually, but also use the TAC plugin.

      ^^^
      Correct. Whoever is distributing can load it up with all kinds of cool stuff like malware and links to their own sites or affiliate links or even ads.
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    • Profile picture of the author Benjamin Ehinger
      Originally Posted by kokopelli View Post

      Sorry, but I have to disagree, and think it is down-right reckless to suggest all free WordPress themes are harmless - many (most?) free WP themes available on the internet these days contain encrypted code or, at the least, third-party links or ads somewhere. (Not talking about free themes from the official WordPress theme directory, of course)

      Some of that code simply creates links/ads in the footer/sidebar/elsewhere, but many times they have a more sinister purpose and can load all kind of "nasties", like someone earlier said, including malware.

      If I download a free theme, I always check for obfuscated code manually, but also use the TAC plugin.
      I never said ALL free themes are good.

      Benjamin Ehinger
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  • Profile picture of the author ebusinesstutor
    I agree with Kokopelli. (do I detect a fellow Native American flute player here?)

    I had a theme with hidden code that eventually linked to nasty sites but didn't have the links when I first installed it.

    Now I have my web designer design all my Wordpress themes in Artisteer so I can have full control over the code.
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  • Profile picture of the author martyJames
    yeouchhhhhhh - i spent ALL last night googling - free WP themes!!
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt Ward
    Downloading a free Wordpress theme could be potentially as dangerous as downloading a random .exe file and running it. To the person that said it's completely safe: I'd recommend educating yourself.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dan Thompson
      Originally Posted by Matt Ward View Post

      Downloading a free Wordpress theme could be potentially as dangerous as downloading a random .exe file and running it. To the person that said it's completely safe: I'd recommend educating yourself.
      Downloading a free theme is no more or less safe than downloading a paid theme, IMO there's no direct correlation between a paid theme and security. There are some really badly written paid themes out there that are full of security holes, just because you have to pay for a theme it doesn't mean it's been created by someone who knows what they are doing ;-)

      That's not to say there aren't free themes out there that are riddled with malware, there are, but as long as you do your due diligence before using a theme (check the code, if you find anything that's been encoded, use a different theme), be it paid, or free, you'll be fine.
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  • Profile picture of the author specialized
    I guess I can reasonably assume that buying a big package of themes and templates from a fiverr seller is equally risky, eh?
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by specialized View Post

      I guess I can reasonably assume that buying a big package of themes and templates from a fiverr seller is equally risky, eh?
      Fiverr is the last place I'd download themes or software from. I've seen quite a few pirated products being sold through Fiverr and have reported them. Who knows what they do to the themes or software before distributing them.
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      • Profile picture of the author mraffiliate
        Thanks for all the information.

        I've been looking at the paid themes at themeforest.net and studioPress.com. These seem legit.

        I guess I will rethink how I approach the free themes though.
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      • Profile picture of the author mraffiliate
        Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

        Fiverr is the last place I'd download themes or software from. I've seen quite a few pirated products being sold through Fiverr and have reported them. Who knows what they do to the themes or software before distributing them.
        Yea I agree with that. I do use Fiverr for articles and video. Those seem to be safe.
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  • Profile picture of the author Miguelito203
    Originally Posted by mraffiliate View Post

    I have found some free wordpress themes that are nicer that some paid one's that I have seen. My question is, is there any danger in installing a free wordpress theme as far as virus and spyware issues?
    I use a free theme. However, I made sure to do two things: ask for recommendations about where I could find some quality ones from people more experienced than me, and I made sure to alternative a bit to reflect what I wanted and my personality. Oh, make sure the theme you choose works with your niche. Some of theme are specifically designed with certain markets in mind. Other than that, you should be good.

    Joey
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeTheBuilder
    Just use caution with free themes. Sometimes there can be encrypted files that link out to 50 bad neighborhood sites. Look in the function.php file and footer, widget, etc..
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    • Profile picture of the author mraffiliate
      Originally Posted by MikeTheBuilder View Post

      Just use caution with free themes. Sometimes there can be encrypted files that link out to 50 bad neighborhood sites. Look in the function.php file and footer, widget, etc..
      Thanks for the info
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  • Profile picture of the author rona
    No, its not dangerous. I myself use free theme in wordpress and I don't experience any problem.
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  • Profile picture of the author mmfromh
    A few things come to mind that can be bad about free themes.

    1. Usually support is not provided for them

    2. They dont get updated often if at all

    3. Sometimes you cant remove the theme backlink in the footer
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