When you maintain several WordPress sites as your daily job you might find it difficult to track the different versions and which sites need plugin or core updates.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the options out there to help you with this task. From plugins that send you emails, like WP Updates Notifier, to management tools that let you control your sites from one place, like InfiniteWP, ManageWP or WPRemote.
Notifier plugins can be a good option if you only maintain a handful of sites. They will send you emails with the frequency you choose from the sites where you have installed them. They can also remove the user notifications in the dashboard for non-admin users.
However they can flood your inbox with hundreds of emails, since you will receive one for each site. Plus if you decide to delay the updates for later, you will be getting duplicate emails, probably at an annoying frequency. Because, lets be honest, when you set the frequency you probably thought it’d be a good idea to know as soon as possible!
Another down point for these plugins is that they only allow you to know about pending updates but they don’t give you information about the rest of plugins installed. For example, imagine that you have found out that the latest version of a plugin has a bug that breaks one of your sites. You know how to fix it but you will need to login to each of your sites to find out if you installed that plugin or not. Annoying, right?
So these plugins let you know when you have work to do but they don’t give you anymore useful information.
On the other hand we have the management tools that allow you to control and access all your sites from one place. These tools give you a nice overview of your sites so you can see what is going on. You will be able to view which plugins you have installed and where, what version of WordPress your sites use (although it should be the latest!) and even page-view statistics in some of the tools.
They also allow you to perform management tasks, such as updates, installs and backups. Some of them can also send you update notification emails. The advantage here is that you will only get one email with all the pending updates for all your sites rather than one email for each site. It’s much less noise in your busy email account.
I have also found that being able to search through your sites from one place is really handy when fixing plugin issues or even when developing.
However, what makes these tools really powerful is their ability to carry out actions in a bunch of sites in one go. It really saves time, plus it makes the updating process much easier. You can easily backup all your sites from one place before updating them. Equally easy and fast is restoring a backup if something goes wrong with an update. This makes updating live installations much less stressful since it only takes seconds to rollback.
You can also update plugins, themes and WordPress installations for more than one site at the same time, making the whole process faster when you have lots of sites to maintain. You will still need to check them one by one but you can easily access them from the interface without needing to login for each one.
These tools all claim high levels of security. They work by installing a client plugin on each WordPress site and connecting to that using a secure connection. The client plugin only allows connections from one server and that trust has been established by using an API key that is generated for each activation of the plugin.
Overall there are lots of tools and plugins to help you manage your WordPress sites, you just need to choose the one that suits you best. So which ones are you using?