Even if you have just two websites running WordPress, you will find yourself doing repetitive tasks that really should be much easier, so in this post I am going to take a look at MainWP in action. MainWP is one of a small group of remote management systems for WordPress. The others (that I know of) are iControlWP, InfiniteWP, ManageWP, WP Central Hub, WP Remote, CMS Commander, iThemesSync and WPDash. Quite a lot to choose from. The last one, WPDash is still in beta. Based on the number of ‘active installs’ (as per the WordPress.org website) of the client plugins (most of these management tools have at least the child or client plugin on the WordPress.org free plugins repository), the top three are:
- InfiniteWP (300,000+ active installs). The best deal here is the $399 for all 19 addons, but this is a one year license for updates, new addons and support. From what I can see, the subsequent years would cost half of this, $199 per year.
- ManageWP (200,000+ active installs). The most functional package would cost $239 per annum for 5 sites, but this cost is annual, the more sites you have the more it costs, and it offers far less functionality than other offerings.
- MainWP (90,000+ active installs). ‘The Bundle’ deal is for (currently) 24 premium extensions (the free version includes 5 more extensions) that costs $399. Not per year. This is a lifetime deal. Lifetime support, lifetime upgrades and lifetime access to new extensions. The current version is v2, and it has only been available for 3 months. It is likely that within a year it will be up there with InfiniteWP on active sites in use.
I did ‘test drive’ each of these before choosing MainWP. Their website claims that ‘the Bundle’ deal is for a limited time only, and whilst I take all such ‘calls to action’ with a pinch of salt, I finally pulled the trigger and bought this package. I do not wish to go in to much detail about how to install it all – the online documentation is good enough for that – I will make some observations of MainWP in use. The big notice you get when installing MainWP is to do it on a virgin copy of WordPress. The dashboard (the master version as it were) should be on a WordPress installation whose only purpose is to host this dashboard, and so the dashboard plugin I did install to a new and blank installation of WordPress. It is installed on a subdomain of one of my sites, and the frontend for that domain is a completely blank HTML page. I had to install the child plugin on the existing sites I manage, and when installed it reported no conflicts with other plugins. The child plugin links to the dashboard and prevents access from any other dashboard, and the child plugin can be hidden.
Whilst I could write a huge long post about how MainWP works as expected, I will simply say that it does. Some of the functionality requires that you have certain plugins on the child sites (WordPress SEO, Broken Link Checker, etc.). Could MainWP be better? Yes. I don’t like the way that plugins and themes in your favorites are not kept up-to-date. What I did find is that MainWP simply stores the installation archive files in a subfolder, so it is relatively simple to upgrade these, but this is something that needs addressing. The problem is that the ‘premium’ plugins and themes, from such sources as Envato and, in my case, Ultimatum Theme are behind secure API’s. What would be much better would be if the MainWP team covered those plugins and themes in the WordPress.org repository, and the organizations that control the premium repositories would make extensions.
The other thing that took me a while to figure was how to delete a plugin on one or more sites. In WordPress the delete plugin process is two steps; deactivate and then delete. The search box has a dropdown select box called Status (on the MainWP => Plugins => Manage Plugins). This has three options. You must first set this to ‘Active’ to find plugins to deactivate, then change the setting to ‘Inactive’ to be able to delete a plugin.
So, what are you waiting for? I know, $399 for ‘the bundle’ is a bit steep, but, it will save you a lot of time and effort. Read this post for details on how to get that deal.