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5 Key Things to Look For When Choosing Free Magento Extensions

The Magento developer community is big. Many talented developers are offering free Magento extensions.

But not all the extensions are good and regularly updated. Though you can use them, it will be a risky affair. And one risky Magento extension is enough to put your entire Magento store at risk.

A buggy plugin with vulnerabilities could be free, but it can cost you time and money. You can lose data and corrupt files – you have to clean the entire store.

But it does not mean Free extensions are all bad. You just have to take precautions and do research before using them.

Let’s see how to pick a Free Magento Extension.

What to look at?

To keep your store safe and secure, you have to make sure that you have thoroughly researched the Magento extension.

Here are five things you should check:

  1. Average Rating
  2. Reviews
  3. Updates and Compatibility
  4. Support and Documentation
  5. Publisher Check

#1 Average Rating

Checking the average rating of the Magento extension is the easiest and most obvious thing to do when looking for free Magento extensions. You can check out the rating in the extension section of Magento Marketplace. They are clearly shown under every extension.

Free Magento Extensions Average Rating

Even on a third-party website, a rating section is often present.

Free Magento Extension

The user can give the Magento extension stars between one and five. If the extension has less than four stars, we recommend not using it. The low-rated extensions are low-rated for a reason – bugs, poorly written code, and insecure code.

However, many reviewers do not give correct ratings. It’s either five stars or one star for them. Also, many users do not bother to provide ratings for the extensions they use. 

To rely on the rating is not recommended – unless it’s a one-star rated extension, it is safe not to use it. 

#2 Reviews

As the rating provides a quick view of the product, Reviews explain the good and bad.

The user reviews could vary to a different range. That’s why you should check several recent reviews, highest reviews, and lowest rating reviews to get the comprehensive picture.

The reviews can be found on the extension page – scroll down to the bottom.

Free Magento Extensions Review

While reading each review, watch out for common issues, as they will often reveal the weakest areas of the Magento extension. For example, if multiple reviewers mention that their website is loading slower or getting regular downtime after the installation, you would do well to avoid that particular extension.

Naturally, if the number of negative comments is more than positive ones, it’s a strong signal that the extension is of poor quality.

For a detailed review, you can google the term ‘Magento-extension review.’ Hopefully, a blogger would have reviewed the extension. You can also add ‘Reddit’ or ‘stack exchange’ to narrow down the search and find the review by experts.

#3 Updates and Compatibility

When its developer doesn’t regularly update the extension, it’s less likely to be secure.

Furthermore, extensions should ideally be updated in line with Magento’s major updates to ensure compatibility. The consistency and regularity of updates are also an excellent way to find the Magento developer’s level of active involvement.

Fortunately, the Magento marketplace shows exactly when an extension was last updated, under the Release Notes:

Free Magento Extensions Average Rating release Notes

The Release Notes show the latest extension version, compatibility, and updates. It is a log of all the previous releases – so you can see how developers are working and what they are releasing from the first release.

Besides checking the frequency of the extension’s updates, it’s also intelligent to check the extension’s compatibility with your version of Magento before activating anything.

Under the Technical Specifications tab, you will see which versions of Magento can run the extension:

Viewing the compatibility of the Dominate Checkout extension:

Free Magento Extensions Technical Specification

Compatibility plays a critical role in the performance and function of the extension. If the extension is not compatible, the extension’s function will not work. Worst case scenario – it will crash your entire website.

Do check the Magento version you are running by simply opening the dashboard of the Magento backend. Scroll to the footer to find this:

Magento Version Checker

#4 Support and Documentation

All extensions on the Magento marketplace have a support and q/a section located on the extension’s page:

Free Magento Extensions Support

If there are regular activities in these sections, it’s a good sign that developers and the extension team are working to solve their user issues. No one responding is a sign that the team has dropped the support.

The support is usually poor with free extensions, as the support comes with a fee. But still, developers solve the issues on a non-priority basis. For support, you have to buy the premium version of the extension.

But documentation is free. If the documentation is not proper and just, it would be difficult to resolve the issue independently.

Sometimes the extension is popular, so it has many issues already resolved on StackExchange, Reddit, and various forums. But for the new extension with no community, you should look for documentation and support.

#5 Publisher Check

Everything depends on the publishers of the extensions—the developer team behind the extension.

Some publishers are popular and have a brand reputation to keep. Independent publishers or small teams may not care about the extension they’re giving away free. But for brand and reputable Magento agencies, non-gated content (free Magento extensions) is a way to acquire new customers.

Reputable Magento firms, including Meetanshi, Amasty, and Aheadworks, do not want their names assigned with hackable extensions or poorly written code. Thye have services and extensions to sell, so they have to keep their free resources in order.

You can see the publishers below the extension name; click it to open the partner’s page like this:

Partner Selling

You can check the website and the service they offer. Open up their social media feed to see how active the company is.

If the team is good, the extension will also be good.

Wrap Up

Third-party Magento extensions are a huge part of what makes Magento such an excellent eCommerce platform, but that doesn’t mean you should trust every extension on the marketplace.

Exposing your Magento store to poorly built extensions can be bad for its speed, security, and general usability. To ensure that you’re choosing free Magento extensions that are the best, remember to research the following:

  1. Rating
  2. Reviews
  3. Updates and Compatibility
  4. Support and Documentation
  5. Publisher Check

If you have already installed a Magento extension that’s hurting your store and business, remove it.

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