Disclosure: this is a sponsored review – I got paid to review CMS Commander but I didn’t get paid to say good things. My opinions are my own.
One of the challenges that a lot of site owners come across is juggling the management of multiple websites.
After each website that you add, the time that maintaining all of your sites begins to add up.
Until you reach the point where it all spirals out of control and you just don’t know what is going on.
At that point it becomes a complete time suck and potentially a security nightmare waiting to happen.
If this is a problem that you have wrestled with, in this post I’ll be taking you on a tour of a system that could be the answer that you are looking for.
What is CMS Commander exactly?
CMS Commander is WordPress management platform designed to help you manage all of your websites from a single dashboard.
The aim of this platform is to save you time when managing multiple websites and ultimately make your life easier.
A quick look at CMS Commander’s features
Before we dive into a full look around the platform, I just want to bring your attention to some of the features that this platform has to offer.
- Manage themes and plugins for all of your sites
- 1 click update for themes, plugins and WordPress – you can also setup automatic updates (this includes minor/major updates to WordPress core)
- 1 click admin login for each site you are managing
- Manage comments for all of your sites from one location
- Google Analytics Integration to keep you on top of your traffic stats
- Uptime monitoring via Uptime Robot API
- Custom branding for WordPress plugin
- Backup your blogs automatically to Amazon S3, Google Drive, Dropbox, Email and more
- Supports 2-factor authentication
- Activate maintenance mode with 1 click
- Database maintenance and optimization built in
- Clone full websites from one domain to another
- Manage users for each site (even bulk create users)
- Know exactly what changes have been made via the platform using the activity log
- Secure SSL Encryption (I’ll talk about Heartbleed in a moment)
- And lots more.
Monetization and content sourcing built in
I have to admit that I do cringe a little bit when I see mention of content sources.
The platform does support WP Robot integration and allow you to import PLR articles as well as support for spin tags etc.
I don’t personally recommend using these features – chances are you will upset Google if you do.
There are some pretty good features related to content sourcing that definitely will be of benefit to you.
20 content sourcing API’s built in
CMS Commander has API’s built into the platform from some huge sites which could definitely help you out:
- Yahoo Answers
- Google News
- And more!
These content sources are provided by each platforms own API which makes the process really straight forward.
I tested this using Google News and I can definitely see some good applications for using this to curate content.
You can pull out related content from Google News based on relevance to a keyword or your post title and then choose to insert it into the post – you can then edit it further if you like.
Other platforms like Flickr provide a great opportunity to enhance your content.
You can make money here too
Other platforms such as Skimlinks and Linkshare are supported too so you can add merchant ads and earn money from commissions.
Note: you will need to sign up for accounts for some of these services, but all of them are listed under the ‘content sources’ tab and will tell you whether you need an account or not.
How to get your site setup in CMS Commander
Once you sign up to the platform and login to your account you will be greeted by the ‘Add Your First Website’ box – this comes fully loaded with instructions and helpful links to ensure you make the most out of the platform.
Next you will need to install the CMS Commander plugin which can be installed via the WordPress.org plugin repository – once it’s installed, click the activate button.
You will then be greeted with a notice; it’s important to ensure you add the site to your CMS Commander account straight away.
So head back to your CMS Commander account and add the site address (URL) and the admin username.
You can choose to add a group name which is useful if you’re managing a huge number of websites.
Note: there is also an option to add sites in bulk.
Once your site is setup you will then be able to setup various integrations which currently include Dropbox, Google Drive and Google Analytics:
The Dropbox and Google Drive authentications will be required if you would like to use them for storing backups of your site(s) and the Google Analytics integration will display your recent traffic in the dashboard.
This is great for knowing what’s happening with your traffic instantly.
There’s also a detailed documentation section just in case you get stuck at any point – that being said, I found the platform to be very straight forward due to being familiar with WordPress in general.
But how will CMS Commander benefit you?
What I’m going to do for you is show you (in a bit more detail) some of what CMS Commander can do for you.
This will give you a better idea of how the interface looks too.
From the settings panel on the dashboard you have a few pretty cool options here.
First of all you have some administrative options and the option to setup uptime monitoring with Uptime Robot – I use this myself already so this is pretty cool to see.
I love the fact you can brand the CMS Commander plugin – great if you work with clients.
The dashboard also gives you a complete overview of all of the websites added to the platform.
From there you can update WordPress, plugins and themes.
When you hover your mouse over the domain name you get some additional options.
I particularly like the optimization tools which can come in very handy.
Note that the tools link external sites but are definitely convenient:
- Malware Scan – Sucuri Site Check
- Check Backlinks – Blekko Search
- Load Time – Pingdom Website Speed Test
To the far right of the list of your sites you have even more options.
Below your websites you will see network statistics which is pulled from Google Analytics – that’s if you’ve setup the integration.
You won’t be able to do much in the way of really digging into analytics here, it’s designed more as a convenience so you can see recent traffic changes as well as bounce rates and a few other pieces of data.
If it was anything more than this, then it would probably make the platform a bit too clunky and if you really need to dig into your analytics then going into Google Analytics directly is the best option.
Just below the statistics you’ll find an activity log so you can keep track of everything that’s going on with your sites.
The website backup system means that you can manage all of your backups from a central location.
No need to bother with backup plugins anymore.
You have some good options for storing your backup too including Amazon S3, Dropbox and Google Drive.
Dropbox and Google Drive both offer free plans up to a certain point – either way, it’s well worth storing your backup in the cloud.
Note: once you have completed a backup then you will be able to access the ‘Clone Site’ tab – this can be incredible handy if you work for clients and have a set of plugins and settings that you use for most of your sites.
WordPress has a settings panel out of the box that gives some important options.
CMS Commander allows you to tweak these settings directly – no need to mess around logging in to each site individually.
You can edit users from each site via the platform too:
I’ve always liked the idea of creating users in bulk and it’s not been as easy as I’d hoped for in the past.
No need to install a third party plugin to do this now.
Edit any post or from any of your websites easily.
Note: while the above section is referred to as the ‘post editor’ you can individually select different post types to edit pages etc.
You can manage and install plugins in bulk or individually too.
There aren’t plugin descriptions here; this does make the interface feel less cluttered but could be a little confusing if you don’t recognise the plugins – I think most people should be ok here.
This is something I particularly like.
There is a panel that lists all of your websites – this follows you around most of the platform so you easily switch between sites.
You also have two buttons next to each of your sites which will allow you to get 1 click access to your websites admin area while the other button allows you to load site data with one click.
Are there any drawbacks?
There aren’t many that I’ve found.
There is one in particular though.
If you have plugins like WordPress SEO or maybe Author hReview that add options within the post editor page – you will have to visit each site individually to use these.
The truth of the matter is that this problem is something that would occur on all other platforms and there isn’t a good way around it either.
Well at least, all of the ones that I’ve seen so far.
That being said, it’s straight forward enough to login to the site in question using the ‘Your Sites’ panel on the right hand side and login directly.
It would involve a bit more time, but not too much.
Other than that would like to see more in the way of email notifications – but after discussing this with the founder of CMS Commander, this is an update that’s already planned which is great to see.
What does CMS Commander cost?
You won’t have to spend much on this platform.
The pricing for the full set of features starts at $4.99/month (or $49/year) which allows you to manage 5 websites.
At the other end of the scale you can manage 400 websites for $119.90/month (or $1199/year) which is incredible in comparison to competitors.
It gets better because you can get access to a free account too, there are limitations as you don’t get access to site cloning, certain bulk processes, automatic content, automatic backups and a few other features.
The important thing here is that the limitations aren’t that severe – you can still use the platform and save an incredible amount of time using the free account.
2019 Update: CMS Commander
I originally wrote this review a number of years ago. My experience was great at the time but I’m not sure how this stacks up in 2019.
That said, they don’t appear to have published an update on their blog since 2017 and their website doesn’t load over SSL (every website should by now).
If you’re considering using CMS Commander, I’d recommend getting in touch with them first to ask some pre-sales questions. This is the best indicator of how responsive a company can be and whether or not they’re still active.