CAUTION Heavy Load! Time to Uninstall A Drupal Module or Two

CAUTION Heavy Load! Time to Uninstall A Drupal Module or Two

Could it be that Drupal's unmatched flexibility is its own weakness, too? That its modular architecture is its “Achilles heel”? It depends on how you manage to handle all the flexibility that it "spoils" you with. If you get “greedy”, you end up with a load of Drupal modules overburdening your website and costing you performance (and threatening its security shield, too). When clutter starts to weigh down your website you'll know: it's time to uninstall a Drupal module or... a few!

Now let me briefly point out to you the key benefits of such a “cleanup”. To give you a few hints on precisely which types of modules to remove from your Drupal site and on how to do that:

Why Bother? Because of Low-Maintenance and Increased Page Load Time!

Keep to a minimum when it comes to your ecosystem of Drupal modules! It's the best performance enhancement you could implement, alongside the other 3 ones of critical importance for your site's performance:

  • image optimization 
  • CSS and Javascript aggregation
  • efficient caching

It's a “no-brainer” if you come to think of it. The lighter the load of Drupal modules on your website, the:

  • less time you'll spend on properly updating each and every one of them (and just consider a shared server scenario, as well)
  • cleaner, clutter-free your backend will get
  • less frequent the HTTP requests will be
  • faster your website will load

Instead of piling up (too) heavy, partially (or no longer) used, poorly maintained modules on your Drupal site, get pickier! Think it over and strive to optimize your selection! And to closely and constantly “monitor” your precious load!

And there's the security issue, as well! 

A big issue, I dare say, that a “risky” cargo of no longer maintained modules will surely impact! The ones that you skip updating are the carriers of potential bugs and security threats lurking on your website.

Just reflect on that for a while next time you'll feel the "urge" to jump on a newly discovered module “tempting” you with its “can't live without” functionality! Are you 100% sure you'll cope with all the frequent security updates and maintenance that it requires? 

Instead, you might even want to uninstall a Drupal module or... two, just to be safe!

What to Leave In, What to Leave Out?

But what if I risk to cut out precisely those Drupal modules that are of a critical importance to my site?”, you might ask. And it's a more than legitimate question/fear.

Now to be sure that you're removing exclusively the extraneous modules from your website, here are a few selection criteria for you. So you should “identify” them more easily:

  • the modules that you're no longer using (and that you haven't used in a looong, long time): if you don't need to supercharge your website with the functionality that these specific modules provide, just uninstall them!
  • the way too heavy modules: especially if you're just partially using them and if there are a few contributed modules out there covering the functionality of a whole... “cluster” of modules
  • the modules that are no longer properly maintained: they're way too risky from a security standpoint; why should you take any risks?
  • the modules unrecommended for live sites

Note: instead of rushing in to overburden your website with an whole “fleet” of different modules, dig through the heavy load of well-maintained, contributed modules first! Popular modules, such as Views (now part of Drupal 8 core's), Panels or Rules might just provide your website multiple functionalities so you don't have to install specialized modules for each needed functionality.

How Many Are "Too Many"? 

It depends greatly on your site's complexity! The more trafficked it is, the heavier its load of data is, the more complex its workflows are and intricate its infrastructure of integrated third-parties, the more Drupal modules it's “OK” for you to have.

For instance, if you own a small Drupal site, an “ecosystem” of 20 modules would be just enough for powering it with all the needed features and functionality.

But there is a limit, nevertheless!

If you're currently running more than 150 Drupal modules (in addition to the Drupal core modules, of course!) on your website then... you might be suffering from “module addiction”! There are way too many Drupal modules for your site to carry!

And you need to start to uninstall a Drupal module or a whole... bunch of them, right away!

How Do I Uninstall a Drupal Module?

My first piece of advice is to avoid the “half-way through” approach. Be determined, be “merciless” when it comes to removing the unnecessary modules from your website!

In other words: don't just disable them, but go all the way through by uninstalling all the related files from your server!

And now, here are the “paths” you could take for uninstalling modules on your Drupal site:

  1. navigate to the appropriate tab and hit “Uninstall” for that specific module: still, don't be too surprised, though, to discover that not all modules come “equipped” with uninstall functionality
  2. navigate to the “Modules” page and disable your module: simply uncheck its “Enabled” status and hit the “Save configuration” button (in case you're not allowed to disable it means you should first disable that precise module that currently depends on it)
  3. navigate to your main directory, where you store all your site's files, and just delete the one corresponding to he module you wish to uninstall 

Quick Recap:

Turn it into a habit to “audit” your site's ecosystem of modules! To check:

  • which ones you're still using
  • which ones are no longer vital on your Drupal site
  • which ones could be replaced with lighter ones
  • whether you could replace several ones with one single module standing for all the functionality that the “cluster” of modules provides

And be always alert, always ready to uninstall a Drupal module or... a few of them if they start to bog down your site's performance!