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How safe are Premium WordPress themes?

We've all learned that WordPress themes are only as safe for as long as they are supported by their owners. Key is for the developer of the theme to watch out for new exploits and usually WordPress upgrades are a key to what changes are needed to the theme if any. So of course if the owner has stopped to support the theme, the theme becomes instantly vulnerable for hacking and a target for backdoor infections.

With themes and plugins that are sourced from the Website it is easy at a glance to see whether a theme is still being supported. One can also easily check the reviews for the pros and cons of the theme. However, there is a popular misconception that if one pays dollars for a theme/plugin, that that theme would be more diligently supported than free themes/plugins. And so after some research over the weekend I found that that is not necessarily true for some of the premium theme/plugin dealers. Definitely not for ThemeForest.

All of the above research started a few days ago when I came across a nulled Automotiv Car Dealership theme that had been responsible for a backdoor infection of a Website. The Website had to be shut down. So this is what had happened to the theme. ThemeForest is known as a reputable source of selling themes and plugins for WordPress. The only really bad part of ThemeForest is that once it thinks a plugin/theme is less than economically viable, regardless of how popular it has been, it just summarily scraps it in its entirety. Worse, it doesn't even inform the purchasers of the theme that the theme has been discontinued and no longer supported by ThemeForest. Problem also is that the owner/developer doesn't seem to have a say in the removal of the theme/plugin. When the owner of the plugin gives the theme/plugin to ThemeForest for selling, he must be signing over the rights to the plugin/theme.

So in a way ThemeForest is contributing to the bad practice of nulled themes as well as unsupported themes. Your premium theme that has been purchased from ThemeForest instantly becomes unsupported without you even knowing about it. Worse. When ThemeForest removes the theme/plugin from selling, ThemeForest also removes the support forum of the theme/plugin in its entirety, so much so that when one clicks on the theme there is NOTHING left on the Website about the theme. No history whatsoever. It is as though the theme never existed. And if it is a popular theme, as it is in the case of the Automotiv theme, it instantly becomes a nulled theme, an unsupported nulled theme and a sitting duck for development of exploits.

1 blog comments below

I've never used anything like WordPress. Whenever it came to webdesign I tried to code it myself. Pain in the butt because I'm not that good. To make something that is impressive and cool takes a lot of effort. I've played a bit with that at work because I have my own public html space but it has limitations to what it supports. I try to find something I like and grab the code then I look at it to try and understand what it is doing. I need a lot of time to do that though...

Anyways. I would find this whole situation frustrating. To find a theme you like and then it's not longer supported, seems to have been wiped off the face of the earth. Suddenly your site could get shut down because it has become vulnerable to attack. You'd have to be diligent and have some backup themes or something just in case this happens. That still seems like a lot of work...

I can understand how ThemeForest operates. They sell a theme and it might be popular but it probably gets to a point where their see their chart for sales decline. When that happens they probably reach a point where they're not making as much money as they'd like.

With all the themes that are probably created I bet they're a pain to maintain. Maybe if you said this theme, however popular, will only be maintained for X years (like what they do for Windows operating systems). That way people see how long they have with the theme, there might be some guarantee for that time.

What is the average lifespan of a theme anyways?
TheGremlyn on Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:24 pm

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