ManageWP Orion Review: A Complete Overview of Arguably the Best Website Management Tool for WordPress
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ManageWP is one of the biggest names in the WordPress world. Created in 2012, it revolutionized website management, providing WordPress users with an easier way to manage multiple websites at once. In June 2016, this groundbreaking tool got even better with the release of ManageWP Orion.
Managing a single WordPress website is fairly easy. Yes, there are plenty of tasks to keep you busy, but life is easily manageable with only one site involved.
Things escalate, however, when you become responsible for running and managing multiple websites. Suddenly, the tasks start stacking up, and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to clear them all.
ManageWP is a tool that was designed to solve this problem, and, once it was introduced to the market, it quickly established itself as the top website management service for WordPress — and is possibly one of the best WordPress products, period.
In a nutshell, ManageWP lets you manage all of your WordPress-powered websites from one central dashboard. That means no more back and forth between multiple WordPress dashboards — you can access everything from one place.
Quick. Convenient. Easy.
In addition to saving you bucket loads of time, ManageWP also scales incredibly well, and is a relatively cost-effective solution (you can run unlimited websites at affordable prices).
Better still, ManageWP can drastically improve workflows for users of all shapes and sizes — from newbie webmasters right the way through to large WordPress agencies.
Orion: ManageWP Reimagined
In July 2016, the world’s most popular website management service took a significant step forward. After two years in development, the world finally got its hands on ManageWP 2.0: ManageWP Orion. With the launch of Orion came some brand new features, cosmetic tweaks, and a redesigned dashboard.
In the company’s own words: ‘Orion is ManageWP reimagined. It is the most comprehensive and most sophisticated software for managing WordPress ever made.’
Those are bold words, but is the hype justified? In this post, we put ManageWP Orion through its paces to see if it lived up to the claim.
ManageWP in the News: A Big Acquisition
It was a hectic 2016 for ManageWP. On top of the launch of Orion, it was acquired by domain registrar and hosting giant GoDaddy on September 1.
With the acquisition, GoDaddy planned to improve their manage hosting service by integrating some of ManageWP’s best features. However, ManageWP was to continue operating independently, and the 280,000 websites using the service were to remain unaffected.
This marked a huge milestone for ManageWP, which had been fully self-funded since it was founded in 2010 (before launching in 2012). During ManageWP’s four years in operation, its Serbia-based team had expanded to 28-strong.
With such a huge shake-up, the ManageWP team could have been forgiven for taking their eyes off the ball. However, they remained committed to meeting their self-set targets for improving the Orion software by introducing automated tools.
The first target was met on September 22 when Automated Security Checks dropped, and was followed by Automated Performance Checks (October), Automated Client Reports (November), and a public API.
An Overview of ManageWP Orion: Features and Prices
In this section, we’re going to take a look at what ManageWP Orion can do and how it works.
We’ll start with an overview of ManageWP’s impressive array of features. And, because features are split between free and premium, let’s use this opportunity to discuss prices, too.
ManageWP Free Plans
Let me begin by saying this: If you’re concerned that ManageWP might break the bank, you needn’t worry — it’s impressively affordable.
In fact, you can use ManageWP completely free of charge on an unlimited number of websites — no catches.
The free tier of ManageWP supports 11 genuinely useful features, called ‘add-ons’. You can mix-and-match these add-ons as you please so that you only have to use the features you require.
Let’s quickly run through the 11 free add-ons:
- Manage Updates, Plugins & Themes — a single list of every core, theme, and plugin update for all of your sites. You can update them all in one go.
- Monthly Cloud Backup — this free backup service creates a copy of your website once a month, then stores it in the cloud.
- One-Click Login — no need to remember login credentials for every one of your websites. Access them all with a single login.
- Performance Check — tracks your websites’ speed over time so that you can measure improvements. Also offers technical considerations to speed them up.
- Security Check — scans your sites regularly for malware and known security vulnerabilities.
- Collaborate with Team & Clients — let team members access websites they’re directly involved with.
- Analytics — connect an unlimited number of Google Analytics accounts to your ManageWP account, then view your sites’ data from the ManageWP dashboard.
- Manage Comments — every comment across every one of your websites in one place.
- Code Snippets — add a PHP snippet to your entire portfolio of sites in one go.
- Maintenance Mode — deploy a Maintenance Mode page to any one of your sites.
- Client Reports — creates a report for clients summarizing your actions on a particular site. Combines your branding with ManageWP’s.
When you consider these features are available completely free of charge, that’s an incredible amount of value for a free tool, right?
ManageWP Premium Plans
The free functionality can also be upgraded and extended by purchasing the ManageWP premium add-ons. There are six available to date:
- Premium Cloud Backup (from $2 per site, per month) — similar to the free add-on, but you can back up your site on demand or schedule automated backups as frequently as every hour.
- Clone (free with Premium Cloud Backup) — ideal for moving your website to a new host, duplicating an existing site, or just creating a staging environment.
- White Label (from $1 per site, per month) — hide the ManageWP branding from your clients.
- SEO Ranking (from $1 per site, per month) — track your SEO rankings for important keywords and see how your SEO strategy stacks up against key competitors.
- Uptime Monitoring (from $1 per site, per month) — continuously checks your websites’ status and notifies you instantly if it finds one offline.
- Advanced Client Reports (from $1 per site, per month) — creates white-label, customizable, and automated reports for your clients.
A quick bit of maths tells me that if you want all of the premium add-ons, you’re looking at $6 per site per month — not too pricey at all.
ManageWP for Agencies
Agencies specialize in managing large numbers of websites, so it’s no surprise that ManageWP caters to them with competitively priced agency bundles.
Agencies can purchase individual add-ons for just $25 a month for up to 100 websites — except for the Cloud Backups add-on, which is $75 a month.
To save agencies even more money, ManageWP also offers an All-in-One Package. This package includes every premium add-on, and can be used to manage up to 100 sites. The price is $150 a month, which represents savings of $25 a month against buying individually.
ManageWP Orion: The Review
A quick glance at that feature set tells you everything you need to know: ManageWP Orion is one seriously useful tool to have at your disposal. Even if you’re confident you won’t require all of the add-ons, the functionalities are far reaching enough that almost every WordPress user should find at least one of them relevant.
Of course, so far, we’ve just listed the features on paper. Now it’s time to take a look at how ManageWP works in practice. There simply isn’t space to test out every feature extensively, so we’ve targeted the main ones.
Website Management with ManageWP: Getting Started
Let’s begin by demonstrating how easy it is to set up ManageWP.
First of all, you need to sign up for a ManageWP account. After inputting your email address, things happen very quickly. In just a few seconds, ManageWP had loaded the dashboard for me.
You’ll be greeted by the ManageWP alien mascot, Manny. In a series of quick-fire questions, Manny will ask for your name, surname (optional), and the first website you’d like to add to ManageWP.
To use ManageWP, you need to install the ManageWP Worker plugin, which connects your site to the ManageWP dashboard. To install the plugin, you have two options: Do it the good, old-fashioned, manual way, or let ManageWP automatically run the installation on your behalf.
Letting ManageWP do all the heavy lifting is certainly the more attractive option. All it requires are your WordPress login credentials — and to put your mind at ease, ManageWP will not store them.
When testing this function out, I encountered no problems whatsoever — the plugin was installed successfully after just a few moments.
Next, you can choose to connect another site — remember, the point of ManageWP is to manage multiple sites! Again, the installation went ahead without a hitch — so far, so good.
Unfortunately, you can only connect one website at a time, so WordPress agencies should expect to spend a fair amount of time during this initial setup. However, the process itself is painless, and ManageWP automates everything.
ManageWP Orion Dashboard
Now, let’s take a look at the ManageWP Orion dashboard.
Quick disclaimer: To write this review, I tested ManageWP using the new account I just created and a fully up-and-running demo account provided by ManageWP. This enabled me to test the software set up for a large number of websites.
For a start, the dashboard is not too dissimilar to the WordPress dashboard. The interface is clean and well organized, so my first impressions were good.
The dashboard features a navigation panel and filter on the left-hand side of the screen, plus four panels in the center — updates, comments, optimization, and services. You can also add new websites to your ManageWP account at any time by clicking on the plus icon in the top-left corner.
The filter is a particularly useful feature. ManageWP allows you to categorize your websites by assigning them tags. You can then click on the filters to manage websites in a particular category. For example, if you use ManageWP for personal and client websites, this feature allows you to run the two groups separately.
You can also navigate through to a dashboard for an individual site by clicking Websites. You will never be asked to provide your WordPress login credentials again either, thanks to ManageWP’s one-click login capabilities.
The individual overview screens look very similar, with many of the same panels as before, plus a few extras. There are eight in total: Updates, analytics, optimization, comments, notes, backups, uptime monitor, and SEO.
As you can see, every screen offers all of the information you could possibly need — and then some. Better still, the layout of the dashboard means any individual ManageWP feature is never more than two clicks away. In other words, it’s seriously well designed and massively convenient to use.
ManageWP Bulk Updates
ManageWP is best known for letting you install all of your updates in one quick sweep. This is super-easy to do, too.
In the Updates panel, you’ll find a single list displaying all required updates, across all of your sites. This list is split into four sections: Plugin, theme, WordPress core, and translation updates.
From here, you can update any individual items, or you can perform a mass upgrade by clicking the Update All button.
This will trigger a quick confirmation popup you need to click through.
Click click, and you’re all done — an empty Updates panel.
I’ve already described ManageWP as a serious timesaver, but just how much time can you save?
To put things in perspective, for the purposes of this review, I upgraded a whopping 125 items in comfortably under 30 seconds — that’s a staggering time save. How long do you think it would have taken to update each website one by one?
ManageWP Cloud Backups
You can back up your websites with ManageWP, too.
A quick reminder: Free users get a once-a-month backup for each of their sites. If this frequency isn’t enough — and it won’t be for serious webmasters — a premium backup add-on is available for $2 per website, per month. This add-on automates backups at any frequency you like, plus it unlocks the website clone feature.
Configuring ManageWP backups takes just seconds. From the Services panel, simply click Backups > Backups Deactivated to access the activation screen.
A common option in ManageWP is to run a feature on an individual site or a job lot. You’re offered this choice here, too. The safest option is to back up all of your sites by hitting the Activate All button.
Next, select your plan: Free or premium.
Then, choose a storage region for your backups — currently, only the US or Europe are available as storage locations.
Finish the job by clicking Activate one more time. This brings up a success message.
In future, you can also quickly check that your backups are functioning correctly by viewing the Services panel again.
Again, this process took mere seconds. Backing up WordPress is one of the most underrated tasks, but it’s so, so important. You need a reputable backup service to protect your websites and ManageWP more than fits the bill — plus it offers very reasonable prices for backups.
ManageWP Security Scans
If you’re tasked with managing multiple websites, keeping them secure is obviously a primary goal. Fortunately, ManageWP’s Security Check feature keeps all of your websites running shipshape.
Now, automated security scans are considered a premium functionality ($1 per site). However, you can run an unlimited number of manual scans as part of the free plans.
To perform a scan, access the Services panel again.
Now, click Security > No Recent Checks to bring up a list of your websites. Find the site you want, then hit the Check Now button to start the scan.
A few seconds later, the results are in. You’ll be notified of any malware found, plus any vulnerabilities the scan turned up.
If your site gets a clean bill of health, that’s awesome!
If there are problems, it isn’t the end of the world, though — you’ll find them listed in the Vulnerabilities tab. This shows you what you need to do to improve your site’s security, which is useful information to have to hand.
The security scans are certainly not as comprehensive as those performed by dedicated security plugins. However, it’s undeniably useful to be able to scan all of your websites from one place, then receive immediate results. My advice is to consider ManageWP your first line of defense, then dig deeper should any problems arise.
ManageWP Uptime Monitoring
ManageWP’s Uptime Monitoring is a simple-yet-useful tool, so I’ll run through it quickly. It’s part of ManageWP’s premium functionality, costing $1 per site, per month.
With uptime monitoring activated, ManageWP will notify you whenever it spots that one of your websites is down (notifications are sent via email, Slack, or SMS).
Uptime monitoring is an important safeguarding feature that could prove invaluable. Consider this for a moment: If you maintain several client websites and one of them crashes for an unnecessary amount of time, the damage to your relationship could be terminal. In such a scenario, you’d be pretty grateful for an instant notification giving you maximum response time, right?
The Uptime monitoring tool also supports an ‘uptime overview’. In the Services panel, you’ll be able to see a quick-glance uptime statistic — the closer to 100%, the better, obviously.
This is another useful feature that offers peace of mind to anyone who runs multiple websites.
ManageWP is also an effective way to filter out spam comments. In the Comments panel, ManageWP compiles a single list of all the comments received across every one of your websites.
From this panel, you can manually approve or decline each pending comment, one by one. Or, if you’re inundated with spam, simply click Delete All > Yes, remove to erase all traces.
After obliterating the spam, switch to the Approved tab to peruse genuine comments, spam-free.
Next up, the Analytics function. This pulls data from your Google Analytics accounts directly into the ManageWP Orion dashboard. You can connect an unlimited number of Google Analytics accounts, which makes bulk tracking performance easier than ever.
With your Analytics accounts connected, ManageWP will display combined traffic totals. This provides a brief snapshot of how your sites have performed week-on-week. On top of this, ManageWP will provide a helpful notification of the biggest movers and shakers in your portfolio.
If you have lots of websites connected, this top-level figure isn’t particularly useful. However, you can use the filter on the left of the screen to focus the results based on the website categories you set up.
Alternatively, you can view an individual site’s data by navigating via the Websites tab.
ManageWP Maintenance Mode
ManageWP also ships with a couple of nice ‘Maintenance Mode’ screens.
You can activate this feature on any website in just a few clicks. Simply navigate to Websites > select one > find Maintenance Mode in the side panel.
Click one of the two available templates, then finish by clicking Activate Maintenance Mode. You can edit the page’s HTML, too, if you want.
The screens look really eye-catching to me. This is the Maintenance Mode template:
And this is the Coming Soon template:
In my opinion, while relatively simple, both templates look incredibly stylish. Plus, it saves you installing a dedicated maintenance mode plugin when you know that ManageWP can do the job.
Overall, ManageWP is certainly an impressive tool — one of the most useful and productive tools I’ve ever had the privilege of testing, in fact.
The dashboard interface is intuitive to use and contains all of the functionality you require to manage multiple websites. You could potentially add hundreds of websites to your ManageWP account, then keep them up to date, backed up, secure, and spam-free, just by investing a few minutes of your time per day — and all while remembering only one password, too.
I would even go so far as to say that ManageWP is a must for anyone running multiple websites — yup, it’s that good.
Keep in mind that ManageWP makes these time-saving and productivity-enhancing functionalities available for free. If you can do all of this (and more) without spending a penny, let me ask you this: Why wouldn’t you run your sites with it? Even if you own just two or three websites, the time savings and convenience quickly stack up, generating a quick ROI for ManageWP.
If you manage a large number of sites — perhaps you’re an agency — then ManageWP is, quite simply, a no-brainer. You can either spend hours running your sites manually, or you can spend just minutes using ManageWP — the choice is yours.
And, as ManageWP also boasts collaboration tools and client reports, you can keep team members and clients in the loop with minimal effort on your behalf. Every functionality the software boasts is designed to be intuitive and to make your life a whole lot easier — and ManageWP certainly succeeds in this regard.
Admittedly, premium add-ons can get a bit pricey as the number of websites stack up. However, when you look at the individual prices of each feature, I consider ManageWP to be a relatively cost-effective solution — $2 a site for a reputable backup service and $1 a site for streamlined SEO and optimization tools isn’t bad at all.
Overall, ManageWP Orion is one of the top products in the WordPress world for a reason — quite simply, it’s one of the best. It is, of course, your decision whether the premium add-ons are worthwhile based on your situation. However, for anyone responsible for more than one WordPress website, the exceptional free plan is as close to a must-have as you can get!
Used/using ManageWP? Thoughts on Orion?