How We’ve Made Website Monitoring Easy with The Hub
Whether your WordPress empire consists of a single domain or 100 websites, I’ve no doubt that keeping on eye on your empire’s health is of utmost importance to you.
The health of any organization, whether it consists of wo/men or megabytes, can be ensured by keeping an eye on just a few key metrics. In the world of government, factors such as employment levels, inflation, and societal unrest will tell the tale when things are on the verge of a breakdown.
Similarly, there are a few key metrics that every WordPress developer must watch to keep their website(s) in effective operation.
What are the key metrics that web developers must keep an eye on? Well, when dealing with WordPress, the critical metrics you need to monitor are:
- The availability of plugin and theme updates, and
- Website uptime.
Let’s take a look at each metric, its importance, and figure out how you can keep an eye on each one.
You Monitor Your Websites, Right?
Installing plugin and theme updates in a timely manner is pretty darn important. From time to time, vulnerabilities are found in plugin and theme files. Unfortunately, it isn’t unusual for bugs to become public knowledge before a patch is available.
When that happens, hackers have a head start and begin working to identify vulnerable sites to exploit before the developer has a chance to push an update. As a result, when plugin and theme updates are published, you really should install them as promptly as possible.
How to Automate Monitoring aka I’ve Got Better Things To Do
Many of us manage more than one WordPress website, and we don’t log into the admin area of every single site every single day. Therein lies a problem.
If you haven’t set up a mechanism that watches for updates for you, there’s a good possibility that weeks or even months could pass — weeks and months that hackers may be spending trying to locate your vulnerable site — before the update is applied.
There are at least three ways to solve this problem:
- Log into every WordPress site every day. Hang on. Every day? Nevermind, scratch that. There are only two ways to solve this problem.
- Set up a monitoring tool that will let you know a plugin or theme needs an update. Better yet, find a tool that will also let you install the updates without logging into your sites directly.
- Set up a script that will automatically scan your site on a regular basis and send you an email if any updates are available.
Setting up these solutions is so simple you really should just go ahead and put them both in place.
Let me walk you through that process quickly.
Keeping an Eye on All Your Plugins and Theme Updates with The Hub
The Hub makes it easy to watch for plugin and theme updates.
I know what you’re thinking. “But Jon! The Hub only monitors WPMU DEV themes and plugins!”
While that was true in the past. It isn’t true anymore. Here’s the proof:
As you can see, the plugin that needs an update is not a WPMU DEV plugin – it’s a plugin from the official plugin directory at WordPress.org.
What about themes? We’ve got that covered, too. Let’s have a look.
Once again, the theme in that picture is not a WPMU DEV product but one hosted at WordPress.org.
The Hub watches both WPMU DEV and WP.org plugins and themes, lets you know when an update is available, and gives you the ability to update all of your plugins and themes without launching your WordPress site dashboard.
How to Set Up Update Monitoring in The Hub
In order to set up The Hub to monitor your site’s themes and plugins is simple. Just install the WPMU DEV Dashboard and sign into the plugin using your WPMU DEV account credentials. That’s it.
Now, when you visit the Hub, you’ll be notified if any themes or plugins need an update and even be able to install the update right from the Hub.
Setting Up Automated Site Scans
While it pains me to admit it, you may not want to log into The Hub every day to check the status of your plugins and themes. Maybe you’d rather just get a weekly email letting you know that there are some themes and plugins that require an update. Then, email in hand, you can march on over to The Hub to install those updates.
To be honest, I’d just as soon you log into The Hub every day and engage in a great discussion or read our latest blog post. However, if you aren’t up for that, we’re still here for you.
Defender is a security plugin that does a lot of different things to secure WordPress. One of the things Defender does is scan your site for vulnerabilities, including plugins and themes that need an update. When it finds that updates are available, it reports that information back to you.
Normally, these security scans are just reported in your WordPress admin. However, you can also have them delivered to your inbox. That way, when a theme or plugin requires an update, the weekly scan will catch that issue and send you an email letting you know that your attention is required.
To set up automated scans, first, install Defender. Next, go to Defender > Automated Scans. Set up your scanning schedule and then sit back and wait for your automatic reminder to update your site’s themes and plugins.
Monitoring Your Websites’ Uptime
When it comes to website uptime, there are two issues to think about:
- You need to be notified anytime one of your sites goes down, and the sooner the better; and
- You need a log of downtime so that you can identify troublesome trends that indicate that it may be time to make some hard decisions with regard to your hosting provider.
There are a variety of services you could use to monitor website uptime, but if you’re a WPMU DEV member, you already have access to uptime monitoring whether you realize it or not.
Hummingbird makes it trivially easy to enable uptime monitoring. To do so, first, install Hummingbird. Then go to Hummingbird > Uptime and click Enable.
With uptime monitoring enabled you’ll be able to review uptime logs for the past month and we’ll also send you an email anytime Hummingbird detects that your site is down.
Monitoring Your WordPress Empire with The Hub
If you haven’t visited The Hub recently, then you don’t know The Hub. Why is that? Because right now we’re pouring tons of development hours into making The Hub a powerful central command for your WordPress empire.
We’ve highlighted some of the most important recent feature additions in this article: uptime monitoring and WP.org theme and plugin updates. However, there’s a lot more you can do from The Hub, and I’ll be digging further into The Hub in my next few posts in this series.
You can already do a lot from The Hub, but there are also new features we’re excited to roll out in the coming months. Our end-goal is to make The Hub a place where you can keep a close eye on all five core factors that every WordPress website depends on: performance, monitoring, security, backups, and search engine optimization.
Monitoring Your WordPress Empire Without The Hub…
Let’s say that for some crazy reason you don’t want to use the Hub, Hummingbird, and Defender to keep a watchful eye on uptime and updates. In that case, you do have some other options to consider.
First, you could use a WordPress management dashboard. We’ve profiled some of the best on this blog in the past — completely free from the corrupting influence of affiliate ads, I might add.
Second, you could look to a plugin-based solution from a WordPress products company in the same general genre as WPMU DEV. Two competitors that jump to mind include iThemes and Jetpack. Let’s see how each of these worthy competitors stacks up to WPMU DEV when it comes to monitoring updates and uptime.
Unlike the performance feature comparison we published a few days ago, where WPMU DEV cleaned house, update and uptime monitoring are two features both Jetpack and iThemes are designed to address. Either would make a solid choice for fill this need.
So the question you have to ask yourself is this: which provider provides makes the most sense based on your needs?
Obviously, if you’re already using WPMU DEV or iThemes plugins, it makes a lot of sense to use the corresponding uptime and update monitoring product. Likewise, if you use neither iThemes nor WPMU DEV products, Jetpack Monitor is worth taking a look at considering the $0 price tag.
Of course, you should also consider the additional products and services you gain access to when you sign on with WPMU DEV, Jetpack, or iThemes. With WPMU DEV you get a suite of premium plugins, access to WordPress development education, the most advanced WordPress theme builder on the market, 24/7 award-winning support from WordPress experts, and the opportunity to participate in the vibrant WPMU DEV Community — and all of that is in addition to the fact that you can use our products to meet all five the core factors every WordPress developer must address.
Wrapping it All Up…
As a WordPress web developer, there are two things you must constantly watch for: updates to your site’s themes and plugins, and website uptime. However, as we’ve covered, watching out for updates and monitoring uptime manually is neither convenient nor realistic. You need an easy button.
There are lots of management dashboards and WordPress product companies you could enlist to provide update and uptime monitoring. However, if you ask us, none comes close to matching up to the seamless plugin integration, theme-building power, and 24/7 award-winning support you get from WPMU DEV.
We think the choice is clear, but still, it’s a choice you have to make.