Smart Plugin Manager is a WP Engine feature that keeps your environments secure by automatically updating all of your WordPress plugins to ensure that they’re always up-to-date.
Additionally, Smart Plugin Manager will check to ensure that the updates are working as expected, and that the update did not cause any visual problems on your site. Read the press release.
In the event that a plugin update causes an issue, Smart Plugin Manager will automatically revert the updates and restore your site to its previous state.
How Smart Plugin Manager Works
- After purchasing the addon, enable Smart Plugin Manager on the environment of your choice via the User Portal: https://my.wpengine.com/products/smart_plugin_manager
- This will automatically install the “WP Engine Smart Plugin Manager” WordPress plugin on the environment.
- Configure the Plugin Settings, such as update time, auto-rollback and maintenance mode, from the User Portal.
- Configure additional plugin settings, such as excluded plugins and sitemap URL from the plugin page in the wp-admin.
- If you add a sitemap, Smart Plugin Manager will check and run verification on up to 20 randomized pages, including the homepage otherwise it will only check the homepage.
- You’ll receive either a success email or a failure email with the test results and the updates will be rolled back for you to investigate.
The Smart Plugin Manager is available for all plans!
Customers on shared hosting plans can add Smart Plugin Manager through the Modify Plans page. Customers on dedicated plans, please reach out to your Account Manager through this page.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What happens to my site while my plugins are being updated? Is there a maintenance mode?
- On how many pages of my website does Smart Plugin Manager check for visual changes?
- My site is password-protected and/or gated in some way. Will Smart Plugin Manager update my site?
- How will I know when my plugins have been updated?
- What happens if one of my plugin updates fail?
- What happens if my plugins update and they change my site?
- How does Smart Plugin Manager know if my site is “broken” after running an update?
- Why was my site passed/failed when it shouldn’t have passed/failed?
- How does Smart Plugin Manager handle WordPress Multisite?
- Does Smart Plugin Manager support Git-hosted plugins?
How do I enable Smart Plugin Manager on my WordPress site?
After purchasing Smart Plugin Manager, you will now see the “Smart Plugin Manager” option on the “Tools” tab in the User Portal. From this page, you can choose the environments on which to deploy Smart Plugin Manager. The Smart Plugin Manager plugin will automatically be installed for each site it is enabled for. You can further customize settings for the plugin in the Plugin Settings page.
How often does Smart Plugin Manager update my plugins?
By default, Smart Plugin Manager checks for updates once per day. You can select the timeframe you’d like to check for updates on the Plugin Settings page.
Why does Smart Plugin Manager need to be enabled on a per “environment” basis? On which environment should I use it?
Smart Plugin Manager is deployed on individual environments since each one is a distinct installation of WordPress and requires a unique license per environment.
If your WordPress site fulfills a basic purpose, such as providing marketing information for your business, we recommend enabling Smart Plugin Manager on your Production environment. If you do a lot of custom development or your website utilizes multiple applications (such as an eCommerce site), we recommend using Smart Plugin Manager on your Staging environment first so you can check that the updates didn’t cause any issues with custom code or third-party applications. If you’re happy with the results, feel free to enable it on your Production environment.
What happens to my site while my plugins are being updated? Is there a maintenance mode?
By default, Smart Plugin Manager will enable a maintenance mode on the site when the update process begins and the site will remain in maintenance mode until the updates complete. This is to ensure that no content is changed during the update process and no data is lost.
You can manage the maintenance mode settings in the plugin settings page. Most updates last 10-15 mins, but larger sites may experience longer update times. Should the maintenance page need to be removed before update completion, you can disable it via the settings page. Disabling the maintenance page during an update will not stop the update process.
On how many pages of my website does Smart Plugin Manager check for visual changes?
Smart Plugin Manager checks the homepage by default. If you add a sitemap (whether through WP Admin or a sitemap plugin), it will check and run verification on up to 20 pages, including the homepage. If there are more than 20 pages listed in your sitemap, it will do your homepage and a randomized 19 other pages from the entirety of the sitemap. If there is a failure on any page, Smart Plugin Manager will roll back the plugin updates and restore your entire site to its previous state.
My site is password-protected and/or gated in some way. Will Smart Plugin Manager update my site?
Smart Plugin Manager is able to update plugins on any WordPress site. SPM can also update websites that are password-protected (HTTP Basic Authentication) only if it was set up in the WP Engine User Portal and not by a 3rd party solution.
How will I know when my plugins have been updated?
You will receive an email notifying you when your plugins have updated successfully, with a list of updates, pages on your WordPress site that were checked, and accompanying images of these pages both before and after the updates for comparison.
What happens if one of my plugin updates fail?
If a plugin fails to update, we will stop trying to update your plugins and you will receive a notification alerting you to which plugin(s) failed to update so you can investigate. Smart Plugin Manager will attempt updates for three more days. After three days, we’ll attempt to update each plugin individually and will skip updating the specific plugin that caused the failure while still updating the other plugins. You will need to manually update the plugin that causes the failure before it will properly update automatically.
What happens if my plugins update and they change my site?
If plugins update successfully but we detect an issue after updating, such as a 4XX/5XX error or a material change to the look of your site, we will revert your site and plugins back to the state and version prior to running the updates.
How does Smart Plugin Manager know if my site is “broken” after running an update?
Utilizing a proprietary set of tests and machine learning algorithms, after plugins are updated, Smart Plugin Manager checks for server response errors, broken code, and visual changes immediately after plugins have been updated. Some example visual errors that will cause a reversion and restoration are missing images and forms, misplaced iconography, PHP errors, and other visual indicators that the plugin updates causes a material change to your site.
Why was my site passed/failed when it shouldn’t have passed/failed?
Smart Plugin Manager makes a judgement on site functionality based on a set of tests that verify site functionality. We’re constantly improving the technology and verification mechanisms so false positives/negatives may occur. If an update breaks your site but was passed by Smart Plugin Manager, you can restore using WP Engine’s backup system. Likewise, if Smart Plugin Manager believes the updates broke your site when it seems to be fine, you can manually update your plugins. If you experience one of these issues, please contact Support.
How does Smart Plugin Manager handle WordPress Multisite?
Currently, Smart Plugin Manager only has support for subdirectory multisite. Additionally, only network enabled plugins will be updated. Plugins enabled for child sites that are not managed or enabled across the entire subdirectory multisite will still need to be updated manually. Support for subdomain multisite will be available in a future release.
Does Smart Plugin Manager support Git-hosted plugins?
Yes! All of Smart Plugin Manager’s features, including Visual Regression Test, Auto Site Rollback and Notifications, can be leveraged for a Git-hosted plugin by first connecting your website with Github. This means you can push updates to a custom plugin via GitHub and have those updates download automatically to any website where Smart Plugin Manager is active.
In order to connect your website to the Github repository, we recommend using either the GitHub Updater or Plugin Updates Checker plugin. These plugins will automatically make a pending update for your custom plugin visible in the wp-admin area of your site, which will then notify Smart Plugin Manager to initialize that update. Details on how to configure your plugin to sync these tools can be found in their own documentation: Github Updater Setup Guide and Plugin Update Check Getting Started Guide.