Getting actual installs of WordPress plugin

One of the most important metrics in the WordPress Plugin Directory is an Active Installs. You ask, why not downloads? Because downloads number can be easily manipulated using regular updates and forcing users to frequently download new versions.

How active installs are calculated?

When a WordPress admin panel is opened, it pings the WordPress plugin directory to see if any of the installed plugins have new releases available for update.

WordPress is collecting these requests and internal count installs for each activated plugin.

The number of active installs that shows on the directory is rounded to the first significant digit for simplicity to avoid confusion.

Accurate active install count

But being a plugin developer or/and owner you probably want to see the more accurate number. For example 1,785,543 instead of 1M+. It may take a few years to break active installs from 1M to 2M, which is the next nearest point WordPress will show you.

Fortunately, there is one approach to estimate the actual installs count. It requires 2 main ingredients:

  • Active Install Growth
  • The date when your active install count last went up

If the first one is provided by WordPress API, getting the second is a bit more tricky. You can have this date in your internal records, or also use a web archive to find it out.

In wpMetrics we are gathering active installs history from WordPress on our own and using that data for more precise calculations.

All data is ready, what’s next?

A bit of algebra :) Here is the formula:

Active Installs this week = Growth * Active Installs last week + Active Installs last week

You can automate all these using spreadsheets.

But a better option would be to use wpMetrics. We will get both growth and “the date of change” using our resources and present the actual active installs count on the chart for you.


In case your plugin was published before 2019, there can be difficulties with the above algorithm. Active Installs Growth metric was introduced in early 2019, and in case there are no active install breaks after that period — the formula will not work.

But, we have a couple of success stories when in cooperation with customers find out a way to estimate the active installs.

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