Naomi Miles interviews David Anderson.

In this blog, I speak to UpdraftPlus founder, David Anderson, about UpdraftCentral, a new SaaS dashboard designed to make it easier and quicker to manage multiple website backups.

David Anderson is an unassuming man, brimming with a restless creative energy. He works hard with calm, methodical precision that underlies an impatience to continually push forward improvements. UpdraftCentral was born out of this impetus; here, David explains how it offers UpdraftPlus customers a better user experience.

So David, what was the inspiration behind UpdraftCentral? What need was it trying to meet?

“I myself manage around 100 WordPress websites. Logging into all those dashboards soon gets tiring and time-consuming, so I recognised the need for some kind of solution. I looked around, trying to find something that fulfilled 2 main criteria. Firstly, I wanted something that had a self-hosted version available, even if there were others versions as well. And secondly, I wanted something that would run on the front-end of a WordPress site, so that it wasn’t encumbered by the legacy ugliness of the traditional “wp-admin” WordPress dashboard.

I found that there was nothing out there that could do both of these things. This gave me the motivation to create something new that would meet our customers’ request for a solution that would integrate well with UpdraftPlus.”

What do you think gives UpdraftCentral an edge over the competition?

“A quick tour of the competition reveals that many of those writing management dashboards recognise just how hard it is to create good backups. It is hard! So unless your main focus is backups, the backup handling in your management dashboard is likely to be second-rate. And that’s why I think we were in a perfect position to produce something that a lot of people will like.

I’m very pleased with what we’ve developed. UpdraftCentral runs on the front-end, and so avoids the legacy WP dashboard. It also uses the full RSA encryption standard for all communications, making it easy to safely control non-https sites.

Wherever possible, UpdraftCentral opens connections directly from the browser to the controlled site. This gives it a significant speed advantage over the existing solutions out there, which all route the traffic via a server. It also means that it carries on working if the site hosting the dashboard is down!

Finally, we’ve built UpdraftPlus to be mobile-friendly, built as a single-page JavaScript application, with no page reloads. It’s a dashboard that’s been designed for the modern web, not the web of 5 years ago.”

How much time do you think UpdraftCentral could save a typical user?

“How high is the sky? The more time you spend managing websites, the more time you save with UpdraftCentral. And we want to save you time with every passing month.

When you start doing some “back of an envelope” scribblings, you realise how significant these savings are. If you’re managing 25 sites, without this tool, all the extra clicking around costs you around 30 minutes per month- which adds up to almost 2 working days. That’s all precious time you can claw back with UpdraftCentral! Even for just 4 or 5 sites, there’s a lot of scope for doing more in less time.

UpdraftCentral is what I’m going to be using myself, and as I say, I have over 100 websites to manage. And believe me, working on UpdraftPlus as it’s grown from zero to 700,000 users has given me a pretty good idea of how precious time is!

What was involved in developing UpdraftCentral?
Ooh boy! I started tinkering “under the hood” in the WordPress back-end over 4 years ago, and out of that came a command-line (i.e. text-only) tool that I still use to manage my sites. From that, from all the complexities of UpdraftPlus’ backup, migration and restore, and also from the weird corner-cases you see with several hundred thousand installs, I’ve come to know a lot about the workings of WordPress’ internals.

Thinking about UpdraftCentral started around a year and a half ago; the coding on the current plugin started in earnest a year ago and has been my main focus over the past six months. Of course, there’s also been all the documentation, videos, marketing and website integration to sort- thankfully it’s not just been me!

Are you planning to rest or develop it further? What’s next?
We’ve only just begun! Next up, we want to tackle updates: managing your plugins, themes and WordPress core is the main thing that keeps you logging into all those separate dashboards. We want to focus on the biggest time-saver savers.

Beyond that, there are many other ideas, and we’re open to user feedback on what matters most to you most. Anyone can add, comment and vote on ideas on our new ideas board.