Are you a WordPress user? Do you manage WordPress-based websites for yourself, friends, clients, or your business? If so, then the WordPress integration in Plesk 12 is something which is set to make your life a whole lot simpler.
Whether it’s installing sites, themes, plugins and users, or ensuring they’re up to date, secured with all the latest security patches, administering content management systems, such as WordPress, can be a lot of work.
Whilst the WordPress administration backend has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years, especially with the past few releases, it can still be an involved job staying on top of — especially if the site’s you’re managing are highly trafficked.
Fortunately, Plesk 12’s WordPress integration is specifically designed to reduce your workload, helping you do what you do in a less time-intensive fashion.
To show you how, today I’ll give you a guided tour, stepping you through the interface. In the process, we’ll install multiple WordPress sites and showing you how to keep them, simultaneously, up to date, with a minimum of effort.
Here’s what we’ll do specifically:
- We’ll start by installing one site
- Next, we’ll review the options available for configuring and managing themes, plugins and security, along with other settings
- We’ll then install a second site alongside and see that clicking an extra checkbox is largely all that’s required to do manage multiple instances, instead of one
Sound reasonable? Let’s begin.
1. Site Installation
Whilst WordPress is a dream to install, requiring very little input save for a few configuration options, Plesk 12 is able to make it even simpler.
Installing WordPress in Plesk 12 is as simple as choosing it from the list of available applications, under the applications tab in your control panel, then clicking install, as seen in the screenshot above.
The database configuration options are pre-filled for you, requiring no involvement on your part.
During the installation, like most common applications, a progress bar is presented, showing how far you are through the process. A few minutes later and everything’s done.
In the screenshot above, you see the admin dashboard, available immediately after installing WordPress. In the dashboard, you are presented with an overview of the installation.
In it, you can see the key details, such as the site name, url, administrator’s details. On the righthand side, there are links to the key management options of configuring themes, plugins and security.
Let’s have a look at those key options now.
2. Managing Themes
All WordPress installations come with a set of pre-installed themes and plugins and activating (or enabling) them is as simple as, firstly, choosing the one you want from the respective list and, secondly, activating it.
Administering them in Plesk is no different, except that it’s just that much more compact. Clicking Themes or Plugins from the admin dashboard displays a popup, as in the screenshot above, giving you the ability to activate, install or delete the installed themes and plugins of your WordPress installations.
Say you want to change the active theme from Twenty Fourteen to Twenty Thirteen. From the popup window choosing a new theme, then click “Ok” at the bottom. After a few moments the active theme is updated.
3. Managing Plugins
Updating plugins is just as simple. Again, starting from the admin dashboard, choose Manage Plugins, under Manage Themes. As with manage themes, a popup window is displayed, showing you the currently installed plugins for the current WordPress installation.
- To activate an inactive plugin, click the checkbox next to its name and click Ok
- Want to disable a plugin? Uncheck it instead and click Ok
- Want to delete a plugin? Click the rubbish bin to the far right of the plugins name
- Want to install a new plugin? Click Install Plugin at the top of the plugin list and you can then search for a new plugin to install
By keeping everything in one location, this makes managing them ever so much simpler than in a standard WordPress installation.
4. Managing Security
In light of the recent Heartbleed vulnerability, security is as important a topic as ever. So it’s reassuring to know that you can stay abreast of the security touch points of your WordPress installation with one click.
To see the security options, click Secure under Manage Plugins. At a glance you’ll see support for such options as:
- file and directory permissions
- directory browsing permissions
- security on the wp-contents and wp-includes folders
- security keys
You can see, in the screenshot above, that the security for the wp-contents and wp-includes folders is not up to date. To rectify that, we need only click the checkboxes next to each of them, then click Ok. Plesk then makes the appropriate changes, indicated by a green tick next to them when complete.
Should we want to undo this action, we can click Rollback, which you can see next to Security of the configuration file and Directory permissions above.
5. Multiple Installations
Do you have multiple clients or need to manage multiple sites for clients? Normally this might take quite an amount of time. But with Plesk 12, it’s seriously not a big deal.
The process of installing a second, third, or fourth installation is just the same as installing the first. When you’re done, as in the screenshot above, you’ll see multiple sites in your WordPress installation list.
Should you want to work on one specifically, then click on the name and you’ll be addressing that one specifically. Otherwise, if you have tasks which can be applied to more than one, such as security, themes and plugins, then select all of them, or the ones which apply, and choose the respective option, from the admin toolbar at the top.
As with a single site, you’ll see the respective popup appear, but this time, any changes you make will be applied to all sites, not just one.
Whilst you may not want to apply the same theme across multiple sites, performing security scans, audits, enabling automatic updates and updating plugins can be applied universally.
The only thing better is the ability to schedule this to occur regularly, with no intervention on your part, which we’ll be looking at in a later post.
6. See all Themes and Plugins
Want to see the themes or plugins which are available across all of your installations? At the top of the WordPress Installations page, you’ll see three tabs:
- WordPress Installations
Clicking Themes or Plugins, will display the same options as in the respective popup windows which we saw earlier. The key difference however is that they provide greater flexibility, because they’re not as limited in size as the popup windows.
What’s more, they present the information in a tabular format, allowing the information to be paginated across multiple pages. If you have a large number of either or both, you’re able to both filter down, via a search box in the top navigation bar.
So depending on your needs, Plesk is flexible enough to accommodate them for you.
Now do you need this functionality, when it’s already available in WordPress itself? Well, you could argue that you don’t. After all, if it’s already in WordPress, why re-implement it?
That’s a good question, but it has a simple answer - efficiency and simplicity. By implementing this interface, directly in the Plesk administration panel, you don’t need to switch context between multiple applications.
You only need to learn one tool, after which you can carry out all the work that you need. Compound this with having to administer multiple sites, on a daily basis, and this time saving quickly comes into its own.
However, you’re always able to drop back to using the WordPress admin panel if you need to at any time. So now, you have the best of both worlds and an easy way to make you much more efficient, administering your clients sites.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.