Managing WordPress Plugins on a Multi-Site Network

One of the biggest changes when WordPress 3.0 was first released was the new ability to manage multiple websites from a single installation.  This was the result of combining the traditional WordPress core with a similar installation known as WordPress MU (Multi User).  There are a number of unique benefits that this combination has created for website owners, especially those who wanted the best of both worlds.

The biggest problem now is deciding how to best manage everything from your themes to your plugins.  This is especially true for plugins because they tend to be updated much more often than themes are.  While being able to run multiple sites from a single installation does have it’s benefits, it also adds another layer of administration that needs to be dealt with.  Fortunately, Plugin Commander has made this process much easier.  If you switched from WordPress MU then you should already be familiar with what this plugin does.  It was formerly known as WPMUPluginCommander.

Plugin Commander makes it simple manage and update your plugins network-wide instead of on a site by site basis.  There are a few features in particular that stand out as being a huge benefit and saving a lot of time.

Automatic Plugin Activation
You can set it up so that any plugin that you want can be automatically activated for new blogs. This is especially useful for those core plugins that you use on every site. Even if there is a plugin that you use on most sites, it is easier to deactivate it from a few, then activate it on many.

Mass Changes or Single Changes
Another benefit is that you can mass activate and deactivate any plugin through the Manage Plugins area. At the same time, you also have the ability to activate or deactivate any plugin on a single blog as well. This versatility can prove especially useful if you are creating a network of sites in which each author gets their own site and you want them to have control over their own setup.

If you are allowing for single changes to be made by authors, then there are some additional plugins that you will need in order to make sure that everyone has the access that they need, without giving them full administrative control. While there are wide variety to choose from, some of the most popular include: role manager, author advertising, posts by author, user extra, and co-authors plus.

Using the Plugin Commander alone can be a huge time saver, but adding some complimentary management plugins, especially for authors, can help push your time saving efforts over the top.

1 thought on “Managing WordPress Plugins on a Multi-Site Network”

  1. Nikolay Nikolov

    Since Plugin Commander is pretty much abandoned at this point, I hope it is OK if I suggest for people to check out my premium plugin “Beyond Multisite” as an alternative:
    It has many useful multisite features, and some of them are related to plugin control:
    – bulk activate/deactivate plugins
    – network disable plugins to deny access for site administrators
    – enable plugins to allow access for some selected sites only

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