I’ve been using ManageWP to manage a portfolio of 35 WordPress websites for over a year now, and I’ve come to rely on this software quite a bit to keep myself from spending too much time monitoring and updating my sites. In the past the system hadn’t felt very polished, but over the last year folks at ManageWP have really have stepped up the quality of the system and it’s looking and working great.
I have been using the Professional level account as of recent, which gives me the basic features plus the site backup and cloning options.
I might not use all of the features, but I use a lot of them, so I’ll cover how I use ManageWP and how it saves me time in those areas.
The main menu at the top gives you navigation options to all the major management features.
The sidebar contains a list of all your sites, grouped into specified groups of sites if you like. Each site listed in the sidebar has more options when you click on its domain name, allowing you to launch various diagnostic tools or to jump to the website or the admin area of that website.
The main area of the dashboard contains widgets that show quick links or need-to-know info.
The overview widget shows you if there are any plugins or WordPress installations that need to be updated, with quick links to run mass updates. This widget also shows you if there are any draft posts, any table overhead or spam comments that can be deleted, with quick links to do so. This is the most used widget for me, I run updates or delete spam comments practically every time I log into ManageWP.
The quick access widget is kind of just a block of icon links to some of the main features of the management area, I actually never click on any of these really.
The recent comments shows you a list of all recent comments across all sites. I don’t use this much but it’s a nice visual of recent comments.
The backup tasks widget shows you when your backups last ran, and if they were successful or not. I find this widget to be very useful to keep tabs on whether or not the backups are running effectively.
Setting up Websites in ManageWP
It’s pretty easy to add a new WordPress website to your ManageWP account. There are a couple ways to do it.
First, you must install and activate the ManageWP Worker plugin, which is what ManageWP uses to identify and work with your site.
After that, you can manually add one site at a time , which is really easy to do. Or if you have many sites you want to add to ManageWP you can import a spreadsheet with a certain configuration of data to set up all your sites in one go.
Speaking of backups – this is one of the main reasons I upgraded to the Professional plan. The backups feature works pretty well and keeping the management of this in ManageWP vs using a WordPress plugin helps centralize the management of all my WordPress backups, which makes the whole backups situation a lot easier to manage, in my opinion. I used to use BackWPUp (a plugin) which worked pretty well, but it was sort of cumbersome to jump through all my sites to reconfigure backups or monitor if they were are running correctly.
I have my backups set to dump all files to my Amazon S3 account, which works great. I run database backups every day, and full site backups (all site files) every week. This schedule works well for me and there’s been a couple instances already where having the backups in place saved me a lot of time on site recoveries or fixing sites that blew up.
When I first started using the Backup features it didn’t really work that great and I got a lot of server errors even with a lot of tweaking of configuration settings. But then ManageWP made some changes to their system (if I remember correctly) and since then the backups have been flawless and low maintenance.
Cloning and Migrating
Another feature available in Professional plan is the ability to clone/migrate WordPress sites.
Where I have found this useful is when I wanted to create a WordPress website that has the same theme and structure as another site I have. I can make a copy of one of my WordPress websites, and modify from there. It saves me a lot of time when setting up new sites that are similar in functionality and scope to existing sites in my portfolio.
Managing Multiple WordPress Sites
First of all, the biggest thing that ManageWP helps me out with is just keeping my WordPress sites and all the plugins updated to the latest versions. I’ve become so accustomed to this feature that I almost forget sometimes how much time this saves me.
I log into ManageWP at least once a week, and can see right on my dashboard how many of my sites need to be updated to the latest version of WordPress or how many plugins need to be updated to the latest version.
When there is a new version of any of these things, I just need to click a couple buttons and watch while ManageWP loops through all the sites and updates all the WordPress installations and the plugins. This makes updating multiple WordPress sites too easy, but that is a good thing.
Managing Plugins Across Multiple Sites
This is another area that I’ve found to be a big time saver. Many times I want to install a new plugin to all my sites, or at least a good chunk of them. I’m able to install and activate a plugin across all my sites with one action in ManageWP, which saves a ton of time.
For example, last week I wanted to install a new image optimization plugin on all 35 of my websites to help with controlling the file sizes of images uploaded to the sites. Doing this manually would have taken me a long time, but with ManageWP I had the plugin installed on all the sites in a matter of minutes. Awesome.
Managing Themes Across Multiple Sites
You can do the same thing with themes in ManageWP and install a theme across multiple sites in just a matter of minutes. It feels too easy.
Managing Users Across Multiple Sites
You can also manage all your user across all your WordPress sites through a single feature in ManageWP. I’ve not used this much, but when I have had to it saved me a lot of time.
Recently I wanted to update a bunch of my user accounts for security purposes, and ManageWP allowed me to view a grid of all user accounts I had set up through all my sites, and made it easy to update the passwords and change other user info. Once again, if I had done this manually it would have taken a lot longer.
It was nice to be able to see how many users I had on all my sites listed on one screen, it helps put things into perspective better for management purposes, and makes it tougher to accidentally forget about one of your sites or users on one of your sites.
Managing Posts and Pages
Of course you can also manage all your posts across all your sites as well. You can run queries to show lists of posts and pages based on different statuses. You can also create and publish new posts and pages through ManageWP too.
You can add your Google Analytics account to ManageWP if you like, and it will show general stats on the dashboard. If you don’t use Google Analytics, there are stats that are tracked by ManageWP too that can be used on the dashboard instead. I don’t really use the analytics features of ManageWP much, as I use Clicky and it doesn’t directly integrate with ManageWP. But it is nice to see a general overview of the overall traffic trends for all sites right on the dashboard.
ManageWP offers quick links in their system to run various diagnostic tools your websites. I’ve found these to be very useful, even though some of them just link to free services. It’s the convenience here that I like.
There is a section in ManageWP that also contains a list of tips and best security practices for WordPress. I found this to be nice, and for those that aren’t very up-to-speed on WordPress security this can be a good resource for a quick overview of things to pay attention to.
Subscriptions and Costs
Is ManageWP worth the subscription costs? I think so.
The sites I manage with ManageWP include a batch of affiliate websites that generate some income, so I can justify the monthly costs of ManageWP. It costs me $75/mo to manage 35 sites with the Professional plan. This amounts to $900 a year.
When I look at the amount of time I save along with the profits from the sites I manage, it’s definitely worth the cost for me.
Just the time-saving factor alone will be worth it for a lot of people. How much is your time worth? My time is worth quite a bit in the Web development world, so any bit of time I can save via automated systems like ManageWP can actually make me more money. I guess that’s the way I look at it.If you manage or monitor WordPress sites for clients, ManageWP will make you money.ConclusionOverall, I’m very happy with what ManageWP offers. I can log in once a week, sometimes more, run some updates, check on a few things, and be done with the management of the WordPress sites in my portfolio. It’s too easy to forget how much time I used to spend manually running through all the sites to run updates, install plugins or anything else really. ManageWP has been huge time saver for me and it will be a time saver for anybody who manages a lot of WordPress sites.