The missing piece for managing multiple WordPress installs: MainWP

Anyone that has dealt with WordPress’s multisite feature will know how disappointing it is in practice. While the concept of managing multiple WordPress sites from one single dashboard is alluring, the actual implementation is unusable in most circumstances. Your only alternative for an optimal experience is to use independent WordPress installs. The only problem is that WordPress is essentially a digital pet. Even with autoupdates enabled and no new content, you must at least check in on it once a week to make sure there are no lingering updates for something that is most assuredly critical to operation of your sites and also a gaping security hole if left unpatched. While WordPress can be locked down in such a way to eliminate most security problems, it reduces the utility of the system to the point that you may as well just go back to maintaining an all-static site in DreamWeaver.

It really is aggravating. I rarely stick with WordPress for more than a week or so because of the maintenance hassle. One site isn’t so bad, but I have around 30 domains. No way am I going to maintain 30 WordPress installs. My options are to push everything over to one domain, do some funky stuff to make multisite work like I need, spend a couple of hours each week logging into every WordPress site to make sure it is updated, or just give up and try to create the perfect web content management system despite the fact I became bored with web development back in 2005. Surely someone has gone through WordPress’s APIs and figured out a way to make a centralized management console.

Thankfully, MainWP exists. The free version is a solid 90% solution. For a relatively small price, you also get a few other time-saving features. For me personally, one of the more annoying tasks with WordPress is installing your standard mix of plugins. Whether you have downloaded the plugins and are uploading and activating them, or actually searching for them and doing the same, each plugin will take two or three minutes just to get it to a point where it can be configured. MainWP has a Favorites extension that allows you to save a list of favorite plugins and themes and apply them to a site in bulk with just three clicks. Twenty to thirty minutes saved multiplied by thirty sites is a pretty big achievement. It makes the paid version a no-brainer even for personal use.

There are other similar products out there, such as WP Remote, InfiniteWP, and ManageWP, but the pricing on InfiniteWP and WP Remote are non-starters. ManageWP is more reasonable with a free tier that is a solid 90% solution, but its monthly cost for the all-in package isn’t far off from MainWP’s yearly cost! Then again, if any of those products have the same level of time-savings, they could very well be worth it.