Automatic WordPress Updates on With ManageWP

My main websites (Binary Moon, and Pro Theme Design) are hosted with Liquidweb on a VPS, but I have many smaller sites and I like to run them on The service is great, and I like the ‘pay for what you use’ model, but it’s a bit of a pain to update software because I have to log into each site individually, and then upload new versions of WordPress/ new plugins etc.

It’s only recently that I’ve started using WordPress automatic updates to update things. Even on Binary Moon I was manually logging in, and then downloading and extracting the plugins so that I could get the latest version. This was taking far too long so I finally decided to get the auto updates working – and boy am I glad I did 🙂

Getting things working on Pro Theme Design and Binary Moon was easy, but NearlyFreeSpeech has some idiosyncracies that I had to work around. Below is how I got things working as I wanted.


Installing WordPress on

Installing WordPress used to be a bit of a chore – I would download the zip to my computer, extract the file, and then manually ftp the files up to the server.

Then I discovered SSH and a few simple commands. This is much simpler! Just log in via SSH, navigate to the root directory, and do the following. It’s super simple and takes about 15 seconds in total.

mv wordpress/* .

Once this is done visit your website and follow the normal instructions to get your site connected to a database etc.

Automatic Updates on

First you need to make sure everything is accessible by WordPress.

chgrp -R web ./public
find ./public -type f -exec chmod 664 {} \;
find ./public -type d -exec chmod 775 {} \;

Then you ned to set up the ftp settings – I like to add the following to my wp-config.php

define('FS_METHOD', 'direct');
define('FTP_BASE', '/public/');
define('FTP_USER', 'your-username');
define('FTP_HOST', '');
define('FTP_PASS', 'your-password');

Note the last part – this is a temporary directory where WordPress extracts and stores the files before copying them to the correct place. It’s not entirely necessary but since I’ve used it for a while I have just kept on using it. To make a tmp directory from SSH you can just use the command ‘mkdir tmp‘.

The Icing on the Cake –

I heard about ManageWP a while back but I only decided to set it up this weekend. Currently I am using 4 of their 5 free trial accounts – and it’s great – so I suspect I will have to upgrade to the next tier (which doesn’t cost too much).

ManageWP is a service that allows you to upgrade all of your websites with the click of a single button. It has a bunch of other features but I get the impression they were added to try and add extra value – and not as a core part of the product. The only part I care about is the one click updates.

Once you have your site setup for auto updates (as detailed above for NearlyFreeSpeech), installation is quite easy. Just install and activate the ManageWP plugin – and then add the site through their control panel. They then do a security and performance scan of your website and you’re ready to go.

As I explained above the main part of their service is the website software updates, and the fact that I can update all my sites with a single click (plugins, themes, and WordPress itself). I had some outdated plugins already so I was able to test it and it worked without a hitch. I imagine this is something I will be using quite a lot.

Currently I have 5 sites setup on – this is the most allowed on the free plan – but I suspect I will end up upgrading to at least the first level of payment so that I can run my remaining sites through the service. Higher payment plans have more features – such as security monitoring, and SEO optimisation, but I’m not worried about those.

One feature I haven’t used yet – but plan to – is automated backups. On the free plan you have to press a button to start the backup – but on the paid plans you can schedule backups – including to offsite locations such as Amazon S3. This sounds very interesting to me and is something I will probably use once I have used the service a bit longer and know how everything works.

Have you used or ManageWP? Do you have any tips for how I (or others) can make better use of them?

Let me know what you think on Mastodon, or BlueSky (or Twitter X if you must).

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