Once you’re bitten by the blogging bug, one WordPress website is very rarely enough.
Instead, like any other hobby, we begin to collect.
Soon enough we find ourselves the proud owner of all manner of sites, from vast authority blogs down to tiny little niche sites. Every day brings new website ideas.
It’s no wonder that from time to time we just can’t help building just one more to add to our growing collection.
Before you know it you’ve got a whole portfolio of WordPress sites, each requiring regular maintenance and care.
For example, you’ll need to…
1) Regularly back up each of your websites to ensure that any server crashes or hacking attempts (which are disappointingly common) don’t wipe out your business.
I’ve had it happen to me on several occasions. I’ve not only been hacked more than once (which took a professional over two weeks to solve the first time) but I’ve also been unlucky enough to accidentally delete months of posts simply by installing one “rogue” plugin that didn’t want to work with my site.
Not a risk worth taking. Back up. Daily. Without fail.
2) Manage comments as they’re left, deleting the spam comments you receive and then both approving and responding to the genuine comments.
This is important because responding to genuine comments helps you build rapport with your audience, as well as adding juicy keyword-rich content to your site. Spam comments, on the other hand, clog up your database, slow down your site and, if approved, lower the overall quality of your site.
3) Manage upgrades of your WordPress installation and plugins.
While the latest version of WordPress supposedly updates itself, I have found this to be a less than perfect solution, with some sites not automatically updating even when encouraged to do so.
In addition, while your core WordPress installation may update itself, you’ll still regularly need to update your plugins – and sometimes even your themes. Not doing so can either lead to parts of your site breaking or increase the odds of security breaches.
Of course, when you’ve got more than one or two websites, trying to keep ontop of these three essential maintenance tasks – not to mention logging into each site in turn to publish new posts – can become rather unmanageable.
Typically what happens is the site owner focuses their attention on just one or two favorite sites, while others are left to fall by the wayside.
And it’s when you fail to carry out the standard WordPress maintenance that problems can really start to occur. An older version of WordPress or a plugin can represent a security risk.
And its not just that one site that’s at risk; every other site on your hosting can also be affected, meaning that one tiny, forgotten WordPress site somewhere on your server has the potential to bring down your whole online empire.
Not cool. Really not cool.
In the past we’ve looked at some impressive WordPress management services that will keep your sites updated for you. However since that article went live I’ve had a few visitors contact me, asking if there are plugins that will do a similar job?
Is it possible to manage a network of WordPress blogs without having to pay a premium support service, and instead rely on software to automatically back up your sites, upgrade and update your WordPress files and manage comments?
Well it just so happens, it is…
What Are WordPress Management Services?
There are a number of services designed specifically to help you maintain a collection of WordPress-based sites. In essence when you sign up for one of these services you’ll be provided with your own personal control panel, accessible from anywhere with a username and password. Log in to this control panel and you’ll be able to access and maintain all your sites from one neat location.
With just a few clicks of your mouse you can update any plugins or themes, authorize comments, publish new posts and create automated backups. Suddenly the previously arduous task of managing and maintaining your growing network becomes childs play.
But which are the best services for managing multiple WordPress websites?
ManageWP is arguably the most feature-rich of all these services, which is why I personally use it for all my “mission critical” sites.
Firstly, ManageWP allows you to back up your sites automatically. Simply tell the software where you’d like to store your backups (Dropbox, Google Drive and Amazon S3 are all options) and how often you’d like these backups to run then forget about it.
Personally I have all my sites backed up daily to my Amazon S3 account, and it’s fantastic to be able to relax safe in the knowledge that if anything ever happens to my sites I will rapidly be able to repair the damage.
As a perfect example, only a few months ago I installed a new plugin on one of my sites, only for it to delete all my blog posts the moment it was activated! Without a backup I would have lost years of work. With the backup in place, I was up and running again within minutes. Do not underestimate the benefit of having regular, automated WordPress backups being made.
Even better, ManageWP will actually monitor your website’s uptime, so if there’s any problem you’ll be alerted to it as soon as possible. The same system will also run daily scans on your site for malware, ensuring your site has not been attacked by hackers.
And if ever you’re unlucky enough to get attacked, you can feel safe in the knowledge that not only will ManageWP spot the problem and alert you rapidly, but also that re-installing your sites, thus bringing them back to their former glory, will be simplicity itself.
So what about updating your sites and keeping them current? Here Manage WP makes your life easy too. One click is all it takes up update your site to the very latest version and ManageWP will even email you, if you like, to let you know about new upgrades as they become available.
In addition to these one-click updates you can also moderate and respond to comments, as well as editing or publishing blog posts, all from your one central control panel.
The final surprise that really pushed my hand into signing up for an account at Manage WP was simply how cheap their prices are.
I won’t go spoiling the fun for you, but when you compare the service you’re getting that offers virtually bomb-proof security and maintenance for your growing portfolio, with the monthly subscription cost you’ll be blown away. Click here to check the latest pricing.
If you’re looking for an option that is completely free of charge then WP Remote may be rather more up your alley.
You can download their software without charge though in all honesty the feature list is far smaller than with ManageWP.
You can, for example, manage updates and upgrades to your site, though at present you can’t manage comments or publish new content via your dashboard. Backups can be run, but these are manual backups; you’ll need to remember to run them regularly because unlike ManageWP there is no way to automate the process.
Lastly, from my own experiments I found the WP Remote software (and even their website) far less user-friendly. Trying to figure out what the software can do and how to do it seemed far more complicated (and time intensive) than the far more user-friendly system offered by Manage WP.
Unlike WP Remote and Manage WP, where you log into your own password-protected control panel online, Infinite WP is software that you download and then install on your own server.
While there are some potential benefits to having the software running on your own hosting account – such as the way you won’t need to reveal your WordPress login details to anyone else, the biggest problem is the installation process itself.
Installing software on a web server can be fraught with problems. Each server is different and my own experience of server-side software is anything but positive. While some applications install immediately and without incident, others can take hours of effort to get going. Worse, you never really know until you get started because each server is different.
While the basic Infinite WP software is free, they do offer a paid professional installation service if you’d rather not attempt the installation process yourself. In many cases this is probably a worthy investment as it can potentially save you all manner of headaches, not to mention time and effort.
But assuming you successfully get the Infinite WP software installed, what next? Well, rather like WP Remote, the stand-alone software is quite basic, essentially allowing you to manually run backups and to upgrade your WordPress plugins, themes and core as necessary. So far, hardly a very feature-rich or exciting feature-set.
However where InfiniteWP comes into it’s own is through the large range of so-called “premium upgrades”. These upgrades allow you to add all sorts of additional features, just like adding plugins to your WordPress install. With these upgrades you can automate your WordPress backups, monitor your server for malware, track your site’s uptime and more.
In other words, this is probably one of the few Manage WP competitors on the market that actually offers a similar range of features. However, there’s something you should know; Infinite WP operates an entirely different pricing structure to ManageWP.
While ManageWP is a monthly service, charging just a dollar or two per website, InfiniteWP charges you upfront for each and every premium upgrade you want. And each one will cost you between $49 and $67. That means that even if you download and install the free basic software yourself, you’ll most likely want to spend several hundred dollars on upgrades before you begin using the software.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing; after all there’ll be no monthly fees thereafter, and you’ll be able to manage an unlimited number of WordPress sites, but you need to be aware of the far larger initial setup costs.
Conclusion: What Is The Best WordPress Management Software?
As it turns out, deciding on the best WordPress management service isn’t actually too difficult.
If you’re looking to keep your costs low, yet are willing to pay a monthly subscription charge (as I am) then ManageWP offers more features and better value than almost anyone else on the market.
For those of you with dozens and dozens of sites, or those who would rather pay a larger sum upfront and then no ongoing fees, Infinite WP is almost certainly the way to go.
Have you ever used any of these services? What were your experienced? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below…