Essential WordPress Plugins Part 2: Administration

In the second part of our Essential WordPress Plugins series we will be taking a look at some plugins that are designed to make managing your WordPress site easier.

WP-Database backup

The WP-Database Backup plugin automates the database backup process and puts your mind to ease about the safety of your blog. WP-Database Backup can perform a manual backup, allowing you to save it to the server, download it to your computer, or email the backup to you.  WP-Database Backup also allows to schedule hourly, daily, or weekly backups and have them automatically emailed to you.

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WP DB Optimizer

As your WordPress blog continues to grow, your database can become cluttered and will slow down your blog.  The WP-DB Optimizer plugin is a simple plugin that allows you to optimize your database from within the WordPress Dashboard.  This is the same form of optimization that you can perform from within another database management software such as phpMyAdmin.

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WP-DBManager

A combination of the above plugins, WP-DBManager increases the amount of control you have on your database from the WordPress Dashboard and provides features similar to those found in phpMyAdmin.  WP-DBManager is a powerful database manager that allows you to add, drop, or edit tables.  WP-DBManager also can optimize, backup, or restore your database, and has the ability to schedule backups and database optimization.  If you’re looking for total database management, then I suggest you give WP-DBManager a try.

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WP-Memory-Usage

Many hosts may limit your PHP memory usage to keep your site from affecting others within a shared hosting environment.  As you install more WordPress plugins and add more functionality to your site, the amount of consumed PHP memory increases.  WP-Memory-Usage is a WordPress plugin that allows you to see how much memory your WordPress installation consumes.  WP-Memory-Usage simply adds a single bar graph to your WordPress Dashboard that give your important information regarding PHP and the amount of memory being used.  If you notice memory usage is high, disable a WordPress plugin or two and check the memory usage.

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Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu

The default WordPress installation includes the WordPress menu vertically stacked on the left side of the screen.  Clicking menu options and waiting for the page to reload to display the sub-menus can be quite frustrating.  Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu for WordPress changes the way WordPress menus work by displaying them horizontally across the top of the screen which allows for a wider WordPress Dashboard.  The Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu also features mouse-over drop downs so there is no more reloading to display sub-menu items, saving unnecessary clicks and page loads.

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Maintenance Mode

When performing work on your WordPress blog, it may be necessary to have some downtime.  The Maintenance Mode plugin works by blocking users from visiting your site when downtime is scheduled.  Administrators and other WordPress users will still have the ability to login to the Dashboard.  When in Maintenance Mode, visitors are presented with a message saying the site is down for maintenance.  Logged in users are able to access every part of the site while in maintenance mode.

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Admin Menu Editor

If you’ve installed a few WordPress plugins on your site, you may notice the addition of new menu buttons.  Depending on the WordPress plugin, a new menu item may be added to the main menu or an item of a sub-menu.  As more plugins are installed, your WordPress menu may become cluttered with menu buttons that you never use.  The Admin Menu Editor plugin allows you to edit your WordPress menus with a convenient drag-and-drop interface.  You can also create custom menus to access any part of the WordPress Dashboard.  If you mess up or simply don’t like your changes, Admin Menu Editor allows you to return to the default menu configuration.

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WP-Task-Manager

WP-Task-Manager is a plugin that allows you to create and manage a virtual to-do list.  This plugin creates a task manager within the WordPress Dashboard, allowing you to create and assign tasks that can be completed by your contributors.  WP-Task-Manager includes feature such as due dates, commenting, and the ability to control who can modify tasks.

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Check back later as we continue our Essential WordPress Plugins series when we look at plugins for tracking your website’s statistics.

What WordPress plugins do you use to administer your WordPress site?  Let us know by commenting below.

Essential WordPress Plugins Part 1: Security

As the popularity of the easy-to-use WordPress blogging software increases, developers and users continue to develop more creative ways to use it. Although WordPress comes as a basic content management system by default, users have developed an array of plugins that allow web developers vast amounts of control and options for their WordPress-based websites.

In part one of my Essential WordPress Plugins series, I will be taking a look at some of my favorite plugins that help secure your WordPress-based website.

Skeleton Key

Skeleton Key is a useful WordPress plugin that allows a WordPress administrator to log in to another user’s WordPress account using only the administrator’s password.  This plugin can be useful if troubleshooting the user’s account and will keep you from resetting their password.  Find out more about Skeleton Key here.

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User Locker

A current security flaw in WordPress is that there is no limit to the number of failed login attempts.  This flaw can make your WordPress installation susceptible to brute force or dictionary password attacks.  User Locker is a WordPress plugin that will patch this security hole by allowing you to limit the number of unsuccessful login attempts.  If the number is reached, then the user’s account is locked, then it must be unlocked by an administrator or the password reset.  Read more about User Locker here.

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Capability Manager

WordPress includes a few default user “roles” with preconfigured accessibility permissions such as Contributor, Author, and Editor.  As these default roles may not fit your needs, you can easily edit them or add more user roles with the Capability Manager plugin.  Capability Manager offers 50+ different capability settings to be included/excluded from different user roles.  Capability Manager also allows you to backup your roles.

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WP-Security Scan

WP-Security Scan is a very power plugin for a self-hosted WordPress site that will detect security flaws and provide information for resolving them.  WP-Security Scan will check various settings of your WordPress installation and database and assist in resolving the problem.  WP-Security Scan will also check that you have the appropriate file permissions set on your web server.  Read more about WP-Security scan in our guide.

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Audit Trail

Audit Trail is a WordPress plugin that allows you to track what happens with your blog, which can be especially useful (if not necessary) in a multi-user system.  Audit Trail is capable of tracking many of the common user actions in your blog and save them to a log file.  Examples of items tracked include user logins, file attachments, page visits, post & page management, comment management, and many other actions.  The user name, time, and IP address are also saved.

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Bad Behavior

Blocking spam comments and robots is something that all WordPress users deal with constantly.  The Bad Behavior plugin for WordPress will help to reduce (and sometimes eliminate) spam and robot traffic to your site.  If a visitor is determined to be a bot, then a 404 error code is sent, blocking your site from being accessed.  Bad Behavior is also capable of logging up to 7 days of blocking activity.  Bad Behavior is a powerful PHP script that will integrate into any PHP site.

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Akismet

Akismet is probably the most well-known anti-spam plugin for WordPress.  Akismet is included with the WordPress installation but needs to be activated and configured with a WordPress.com API key.  Akismet is capable of reducing or even eliminating spam comments from your blog.  Another nice feature about Akismet is that it provides some graphs that really show how spam affects your blog.

Check back later as we continue our Essential WordPress Plugins series with some WordPress administration plugins.

What WordPress plugins do you use to keep WordPress secure?  Let us know by commenting below.

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