WordPress' popularity brings a number of benefits that you wouldn't get with a less popular content management system. For example, I've watched as it went from something you had to manually install, to something that pretty much every host offers an autoinstaller for.
For those who use Plesk as their web hosting control panel (as opposed to something like cPanel), things get even easier thanks to Plesk's WordPress Toolkit extension.
WordPress Toolkit is an extension for Plesk that adds a range of helpful WordPress functionality that goes way beyond an autoinstaller. You can manage themes and plugins, harden WordPress security, run updates, create staging sites, and lots more.
In this post, I'll share more about WordpRess Toolkit's features and how it works.
Note: We're not calling this a true review because I don't have the ability to go hands-on and give it a real deep functionality test. I did play around with HostGator's demo, though, so I do at least have some experience with the actual product. You can do the same by going here.
Plesk WordPress Toolkit: What It Does At A High-Level
There are two different versions of WordPress Toolkit depending on which version of Plesk you have:
- WordPress Toolkit SE: comes with Plesk Web Admin Edition. This is the more limited version.
- WordPress Toolkit: comes with Plesk Web Pro Edition or Plesk Web Host Edition
In WordPress ToolKit SE, you can:
- Install new WordPress instances
- Migrate remove WordPress instances
- Add one-click security hardening for any sites that you installed via WordPress Toolkit
- Manually update your core software, themes and plugins from Plesk, rather than your WordPress dashboard
With the full WordPress Toolkit, you get everything in WordPress Toolkit SE plus a whole lot more:
- Clone existing WordPress installs
- Staging environment
- Sync data between different WordPress instances
- Full security check
- Option to automatically update the core WordPress software, plugins, and themes (or you can stick with manual updates via Plesk)
- Password protection
- Search engine indexing management
So while the WordPress Toolkit SE has some helpful features, a lot of the coolest stuff (e.g. staging, automatic updates) is locked behind the full WordPress Toolkit.
A Quick Introduction To Plesk Itself And How It Ties To WordPress Toolkit
If you're already familiar with Plesk, you can safely skip this section.
But it struck me that some of our readers might not actually know what Plesk is, which might confuse them as to how they can get WordPress Toolkit for their own site.
Plesk is a web hosting control panel. It's a competitor to cPanel - so if you're familiar with cPanel, it works on a similar set of principles.
Plesk is either:
- Something that your web host gives you to manage your server
- A product that you can purchase and install yourself to help you manage your own server
If your host already gives you Plesk, there's a solid chance that they include WordPress Toolkit. Otherwise, WordPress Toolkit is something that you can use to more easily manage WordPress installs on your own server.
Exploring The Various Plesk WordPress Toolkit Features
To show you these features, I'm using Hostgator's Plesk demo. Again, if you want to follow along, you can access this demo here.
Manage WordPress Installations
In the WordPress Toolkit dashboard, you'll get a broad look at all the WordPress sites running on your server. You can switch between cards, tiles, or lists depending on your visual preferences:
The nice things here are that you can use the toggles to quickly:
- Disable search engine indexing
- Turn on caching
- Enable maintenance mode
- Enable debugging
- Turn on password protection to restrict public access
There are also smaller links to:
- Manage Files
You can use the Clone button to quickly spin up a staging site. For example, here's what it looks like after I hit Clone on the default demo site:
If you click over to the Plugins tab for an individual install, you can:
- Install a new plugin right from Plesk
- Enable/disable plugins
- Manually update a plugin
- Turn on automatic updates
- Delete a plugin
The Themes tab gives you an identical set of options for themes:
Finally, the Database tab gives you easy access to phpMyAdmin. You can also change the database username right from here:
Viewing The Overall Plugins And Themes Tabs
The Plugins tab that I showed you above applied to the specific WordPress instance that I was interacting with. But you can also go to the global Plugins tab to see a list of all the plugins on your various WordPress installations.
These plugins at will.
And it will also tell you which sites the various plugins are installed on:
Similarly, the overall Themes tab helps you perform similar actions for the themes across all your WordPress installations:
Using Sets To Manage Groups Of Plugins/Themes
The Sets tab unlocks some really cool functionality that allows you to create pre-built "bundles" of plugins and/or themes.
This allows you, or your customers, to install lots of recommended tools at once when they create a new WordPress site.
For example, you could create a set that contains essential plugins for:
- Contact Form
This can save you, or others, lots of time when creating new WordPress sites.
Editing Global Settings
Finally, the Global Settings area lets you configure stuff like:
- Your maintenance page
- The default subdomain prefix for cloning (this lets you change the staging site URL)
- Other misc. Settings
Final Thoughts On Plesk WordPress Toolkit
After playing around with the WordPress Toolkit demo, I am a bit bummed that I'm still stuck with cPanel, to be honest.
There's a lot of helpful functionality there, especially if you have multiple WordPress sites installed on your server.
The updates functionality is super helpful so that you don't have to dig into each site's dashboard. And the staging/cloning is also really easy to use.
If you're an agency/freelancer who hosts client sites yourself, I could see Plesk and WordPress Toolkit coming in really handy for streamlining your workflows at the server level.
Similarly, if you're a casual user whose host uses Plesk, you should definitely see if you have access to this and take advantage of its various features.
To learn more about Plesk and WordPress Toolkit (and how you can get it for your site(s)), click on one of the options below: