If you have a number of self-hosted WordPress sites, or you look after multiple WordPress installations on behalf of your clients, keeping them all up-to-date with the latest versions of the WordPress core, the plugins they are using and their themes can be a time consuming task, requiring you to login to each site and carry out the necessary jobs.
While using WordPress Multisite is one way to manage a network of WordPress installations, it isn’t the best solution for everyone. Thankfully there are a few third party services out there that allow you manage multiple WP installations from one central location.
Some of the common features of these WP management services include the ability to:
- Publish new content to the managed sites from one dashboard.
- Install plugins and themes to one, some or all of the sites simultaneously in the network from one dashboard.
- Update the WordPress core, themes and plugins for multiple sites with one-click.
- Create and restore backups of sites as well as transfer them via FTP to a server or to a cloud storage service.
- Clone sites and migrate them to other sites on the network.
- Manage users and roles on the managed sites.
As you can see these features could save you a lot of time and make your life a lot easier when it comes to looking after multiple WordPress sites. Here is some of the best tools available, ranging from free tools offering a basic service to those with multi-tiered pricing structures ideal for large networks and demanding users.
While some of these services carry substantial price tags depending on how many sites you want to manage, as well as which feature you want to use, WP Remote is 100% free. While it lacks some of the more advanced features of the other WordPress management services on the market, it does let you do the following:
- See what versions of WordPress, themes and plugins are installed on your sites and display a notification when updates are available.
- Update WordPress core, plugins and themes when newer versions are available, directly from the dashboard.
- Create backups by downloading a zip file archive of the site’s files and database.
- Notify you from the dashboard if one of your sites is unreachable or down.
- Group sites together for easier management.
- Responsive design makes it easy to use on a smartphone.
- Post directly to sites from the WP Remote dashboard.
- Migrate and deploy new WordPress installations and sites.
- Install themes and plugins to your sites from the WP Remote dashboard
Previously backups of your sites were stored online for free, but this service is now no longer available, however you can still download them and store them locally.
How Easy is it to Setup WP Remote?
Signing up with, and setting up WP Remote is very simple. After entering a name and an email address you are directed to the dashboard where you can add your sites. To get started simply:
- Enter your site name and URL to the WP Remote dashboard
- Install the free WP Remote worker plugin on the site you want to manage
- Enter the supplied API key in the site you want to manage and you’re done
If you have more than one WordPress site to look after and would like to reduce the amount of time you spend keeping the plugins and themes up-to-date, as well the WordPress core, this free service is just what you need. For those with more demanding requirements such as cloning, copying and publishing to multiple sites from one location some of the other services will be more suitable.
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Manage WP is a much more feature-packed service than WP Remote and is one that will appeal to site managers who want more centralised access to and control over their sites. While it is free to sign up with Manage WP and add up to five sites to the service and get access to the basic features , those with more sites, or who want access to the Standard, Professional or Business features will have to pay a monthly fee which varies depending on the number of sites you want to manage.
Although the setup of Manage WP and WP Remote is fairly similar, with an account being created with the service and then a plugin installed on each of the sites you wish to manage, the fair comparisons between the two services end there. Manage WP is simply a much bigger, feature-packed service than WP Remote and while the latter is great at what it does, the Manage WP does a whole lot more.
Upon logging into Manage WP, the dashboard is displayed which lists the most popular widgets by default. From here you can view many pieces of information about your sites including:
- Updates that are available for the WordPress core, themes and plugins installed on your sites.
- Page view statistics for the sites you are managing with this service, although they did look a little inflated compared to some of the other analytics tools I was using on these sites.
- Recent comments showing approved and pending comments which can be approved edited or deleted all from within Manage WP. This is handy if you have a lot of spam comments to manage across your sites.
Free Features of Manage WP:
Other tasks you can carry out from within the free version of Manage WP include:
- Install themes and plugins directly to sites from the dashboard.
- Access the sites dashboards and admin areas from within Manage WP.
- Restore backups.
- Mobile access to Manage WP via iPhone and Android smartphones.
Premium Features of Manage WP
If you want access to the more advanced, and arguably more useful features you will have to pay for them. The packages consist of: Standard, which is for individual bloggers; Professional, for small business and web developers; and Business, for large businesses and SEO & web marketing companies.
For the standard features for use on five sites, the monthly fee starts from just $4 per month going up to $24 per month for five sites with access to the business plan. Discounts are given for the more sites you are managing which can push the price per site down considerably.
Here are some of the standout features of the premium packages that will appeal to anyone managing multiple WordPress sites:
- Bulk add new posts and pages (all packages).
- Manage and add users and define their roles as you would from inside your sites own WordPress dashboards (Professional and Business).
- Google Analytics Widget to view your site stats according to Google (Professional and Business).
- Search Engine Rank Tracker to see where your sites are ranked in the search engines (Business).
- Traffic change alerts to notify you spikes in visitor number (Professional and Business).
- Create backups including delivery to S3, Dropbox or Google Drive (all packages).
- Scheduled online backups (Professional and Business).
- Clone or migrate your sites to other locations on your list of managed sites (Professional and Business).
As you can see there are some fantastic features here that will make managing a growing number of WordPress sites a breeze. With all these powerful features at your fingertips, the amount of time saved and effort reduced that traditionally goes into keeping up-to-date with all your sites will be very noticeable.
How Easy is it to Setup Manage WP?
Setting up Manage WP is pretty straightforward. Sign up for an account on the home page and then enter the list of sites you want to manage and then install the free plugin on these sites and you will have added them to your dashboard. It doesn’t really get much easier than that. From then on, you can manage your sites by simply logging into your dashboard at the Manage WP website.
Overall, Manage WP is a great service for those want more control over their sites, plus the unquestionable time saving benefits of being able to install and clone existing site or templates as well as mass install, update and manage themes and plugins, not to mention bulk publishing and scheduled backups. With tiered pricing and a monthly pay per site model, the Manage WP pricing structure is great for those with growing networks who would prefer not pay up front for access to the service.
Infinite WP is more of a rival to Manage WP than WP Remote is to either of these WordPress management services. This is due to the large number of features this service has. While you will have to pay to access some of them, there is a free version, much like Manage WP, in the sense that it gives you access to a basic set of features.
With Infinite WP you can view and manage most functions of your WordPress sites through the dashboard. You can login to the admin dashboard of individual sites with just one click rather than typing in the URL, entering your login credentials, saving you considerable time and effort.
As with Manage WP, you can also update all the plugins and themes you have installed on the sites you are managing in one go, or you can tend to them individually. You can also hide or exclude plugins from being upgraded if for whatever reason you want to stay with the current version.
Installing themes and plugins can all be done centrally from the Infinite WP dashboard, preventing you from having to log into the sites individually and repeatedly uploading plugins and theme files. While some of these features are only available as premium addons, there are a number of useful free ones that will be of benefit to anyone with more than one WordPress site to look after.
Free features of Infinite WP include:
- Login to your individual sites with one-click from the Infinite WP dashboard.
- One-click updates for WordPress core, plugins and themes on all your sites (or just a selection) or on a plugin-by-plugin basis.
- Manage themes and plugins by installing, deleting, activating and deactivating them on multiple sites simultaneously.
Infinite WP Pricing Options
While Manage WP charges users depending on the level of features they choose and the number of sites they intended to manage, charged on a recurring basis. Infinite WP charges a one-off fee for each individual feature you want to use. This is great for people who only want to use one or two of the premium features.
However, could get quite expensive for someone wanting access to the whole package, at least in terms of an initial payment. Thankfully these premium features have been grouped together into bundles, with discounted prices and if you choose to buy all the addons there is, at the time of writing, a 30% discount.
Premium Addons Include:
- Install and clone WordPress to speed up the new site creation process by being able to clone and install your site templates at the touch of a button.
- Uptime monitor enables you to receive emails should one of your sites go offline.
- Google Analytics addon allows you to view and compare the stats for all your sites from one location.
- Publish from the dashboard posts, pages and links to one or all of your sites.
- Schedule backups and backup to repositories allow you to automate the backup process and then transfer them to cloud services such as Amazon S3 or Dropbox, or FTP them to a server.
While you do have to pay for these premium addons, the price is a one-off and they can be used on all the sites you manage.
How Easy is it to Setup Infinite WP?
When it comes to setting up Infinite WP, the process isn’t quite as simple as the other options covered here. You are required to upload some files to your server using an FTP client, which gives you access to your own self-hosted dashboard for managing your sites.
Then you have to create a new database with your web hosting service. If you want to receive email notification you will also need to setup a cron job. While these terms might sound alien to some, there are detailed instructions on this page.
Once that is setup and running correctly, simply install the free plugin on the sites you want to manage.
It’s not a difficult task and although you do get a self-hosted solution, it is lacking the simplicity of some of the installations of the other WordPress management services. If all that does sound too much for you, you can opt to pay and have the service installed on for you by one of their support staff.
Overall Infinite WP has all the features a good a premium WordPress management service needs. The fact that you can pay a one-off fee for the addons, and can opt to purchase only the ones you need, might make the pricing structure more appealing than the monthly plan offered by Manage WP.
iControl WP is another WordPress management service that allows you to work with a number of sites from one central location. This isn’t a self-hosted service like Infinite WP so getting started is simply a case of registering with the iControl WP and then installing the free plugin on the sites you want to manage.
While this isn’t a free service, there is a free 30 day trial so you can give it a try and see if it matches your needs. After that pricing is based on how many sites you wish to manage (minimum of five) using this service. There is no tiered pricing so you get access to all the features once you’ve signed up.
Features of iControl WP:
- Administrate all your sites from one dashboard.
- Clone tool for quick and easy replication of sties on your network.
- One-click updates for WordPress core, themes and plugins through the iControl WP dashboard.
- Create, manage and restore backups using the WorpDrive service.
How Easy is it to Setup iControl WP?
As this service isn’t self-hosted, setup is very simple. Signing up with the service takes a few minutes at most and then it’s just a case of installing the plugins on the sites you wish to manage from the free WordPress plugin directory.
Overall iControl WP has some great features but whether it can compete with Manage WP and Infinite WP remains to be seen. The quick WordPress installation is a nice option for those who want to simplify and speed up the installation process for new sites.
Sick Network is the new kid on the block when it comes to WordPress management services. In fact, it’s so new that at the time of writing the product was still in beta. Due to this it is available at a discounted price that includes access to all the features and use on unlimited sites.
How Easy is it to Setup Sick Network WP?
Like Infinite WP this is a self-hosted option but the setup procedure is a little less complicated. To get started, you must install the main plugin to the site you wish to use as the main dashboard through which you manage your other sites. Here this is known as the parent site.
For the other sites that will be managed, simply install the child plugin and you are ready to go. The self-hosted aspect of this service is designed to appeal to those with privacy concerns and would rather not have the service they are using being able to view all the sites in their network. You will need to decide if this is an issue for you but either way, it is not the only selling point of Sick Network.
Current Pricing Plan for Sick Network
The onetime price for unlimited sites will be a major selling point for many people and while the product is still in beta, the price is very affordable. Unlike the other services covered here though, there is no free trial or free version with limited functionality for you to use to evaluate the service.
You will have to take a leap of faith with this new product, although there is a 30 day money back guarantee. You can do all the major tasks that you can with the other premium tools of this type and at the moment they all come under the one-off price.
Features of Sick Network:
Sick Network has been designed to compete with the more established WP management services out there and the list of features available reflects this. These are some of the more impressive of the features that come with this product:
- One-click auto login to any site in your network.
- Install and manage multiple themes and plugins.
- Publish pages, posts and links in bulk.
- Uptime monitor to report on your sites downtimes.
- Manage and schedule backups to Amazon S3 and Dropbox.
- Clone and migrate sites for extra efficiency and working from templates.
- Google Analytics in the dashboard.
As you can see Sick Network has a lot of the premium features, if not all, of the other services covered here. While it might not be as polished in terms of looks and design as some of the other offerings, it definitely makes up for it in features and value for money. Although it is worth remembering it is still in beta and is still a work in progress.
You can find out more about what the developers and doing and what the user experience is currently like by visiting the Sick Network forum where such issues are being discussed.
Overall it looks like Sick Network could be a strong contender to challenge for the title of best WordPress management service. However, this all depends on what the finished product is actually like and how much they decide to charge for it. It certainly has all the features that are needed to adequately manage a network of WordPress sites and the one-time payment for all features will be attractive to many.
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Which is the Best WordPress Management Service
As these services are all different from each other in terms of either their features or their pricing plans it is hard to highlight one service as the best. If you just want the basic features, being able to update plugins, themes and the WordPress core as well as create backups to be stored locally, all from one central dashboard and don’t want to pay for the privilege, WP Remote is probably the right option for you.
However, if you only have five sites or less, the free version of Manage WP might be a better choice as you would have a few more features at your disposal, with the option to upgrade to more should the need arise. Infinite WP also offers a free version of their service with limited features but the installation process is a lot more tricky than with Manage WP, however you do get the benefits (and drawbacks) of having a self-hosting service.
Best Premium Service
When it comes to the premium service, Infinite WP wins points for offering the ability to select certain premium features you would like to use and paying for them, rather than paying for access to a range of features you might not use.
Manage WP offers a monthly payment plan, whereas Infinite WP requires one upfront payment for each addon, or bundle of additional features required. Your preference for paying for things will likely sway your decision and there isn’t much to separate the two services in terms of features and performance.
While Sick Network could be a serious competitor to the other services in the future, it is not ready for full commercial release so cannot be recommended as a professional solution for managing a raft of WordPress sites, however, if you want to get in early and secure a good deal and don’t require the reliability of a fully developed service, it could be a good option.
Hopefully you now have enough information to make a decision on which features would be useful to you and are now able to make a decision that best fits your needs and budget.