How to Optimize Your Jetpack Use: Don’t Skip Useful Features, and Disable Unuseful Ones

Jetpack is a versatile tool. But, diversity of features comes with drawbacks. Learn how to avoid part of it by optimizing your Jetpack use.

Jetpack: diversity of features comes with a cost

Jetpack is like a Swiss Army knife – it has a tool for many needs. But its abundance of features can also form disadvantages. First, lost in the diversity, you might miss some useful options. And second, the more features your site supports – the more code it is consists of. The more code your site consists of – the chances of performance, compatibility, and security issues grow.

The (partial) solution: selectively enabling features

Enabling useful features and disabling unuseful ones is essential for optimizing the use of Jetpack. But Jetpack’s options are listed under different tabs and sections, and so it can be difficult to explore all the features systematically.

Luckily, Jetpack has a hidden settings page that lists conveniently all of its features together. You can find it here:

[yoursite.com]/wp-admin/admin.php?page=jetpack_modules

Simply replace ‘yoursite.com’ with the actual domain of your site.

Assessing the solution

The enabling part is a closed matter – you can now easily make sure you don’t skip any useful feature. But the disabling part isn’t necessarily closed. What happens when you disable a Jetpack feature? Will it have no effect on your site anymore whatsoever?

Security – probably no gain

Security-wise the answer is pretty clear: any server code, active or not, can serve as a target for malicious attacks. Disabling features won’t remove their code from your backend, and therefore won’t make it any more secure. Bummer.

Regarding the frontend though, I’m not sure. With less JavaScript loaded on the frontend, maybe it will become more secure? I’m not a security expert and so can’t really assess the gained benefit if any. Feel free to weigh-in.

Performance and general issues – some gain

When it comes to performance and compatibility issues, the answer is a bit more complicated and might change over time. For example, as for the time of writing, out-of-the-box Jetpack will load CSS of disabled features. It will be combined into a jetpack.css file, which can get quite big, and in many cases – mostly unused. This, however, can be avoided using this filter:

add_filter('jetpack_implode_frontend_css', '__return_false');
Code language: JavaScript (javascript)

Returning false will prevent Jetpack from combining all of its CSS files into one. This, in turn, introduces another potential performance issue – as it is generally recommended to combine CSS files together to minimize server requests. But it doesn’t really matter, as you should anyway use a tool to combine all, not just Jetpack’s, CSS files into a single file. There isn’t a similar issue with JavaScript, as Jetpack doesn’t combine JavaScript files in the first place (it is harder to safely combine JavaScript).

So, disabling Jetpack features will probably eliminate some performance and compatibility issues, but not all of them. Some is something, though.

Conclusion

The use of Jetpack can be optimized by selectively enabling and disabling its features. But the drawbacks of a bloated tool can’t be totally avoided.

So, given the drawbacks, should you keep using Jetpack? or should you replace it with feature-specific plugins or some costume code? Well, that’s debatable. Although, in my opinion, in many cases, this debate can be decided thanks to Jetpack’s best selling-point – the image CDN. Read more about it in this post.

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