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      The Ultimate Guide to WordPress User Roles

      WordPress is a powerful, flexible Content Management System (CMS) that can be an excellent solution for collaboration. However, to make the most of the CMS, it’s important to understand how to navigate and leverage its user roles and permissions features.

      WordPress user roles let you assign certain levels of access to people who are registered to your website. This can help you manage and control what tasks are possible and can ultimately help strengthen your site’s security and performance.

      In this post, we’ll explain what WordPress user roles and permissions are. Then, we’ll provide you with advice for assigning them and cover some helpful troubleshooting tips and useful plugins to help you manage your users. Let’s get started!

      An Introduction to WordPress User Roles and Permissions (And Why They’re Important)

      WordPress user roles and permissions are two different but interdependent concepts. User roles determine what a user can and can’t do on your WordPress site, based on their user type. These limitations are generalized for anyone who carries a certain user role status.

      Permissions, on the other hand, are more individualized. You can create custom permissions for specific users, and control exactly what they are allowed to do on your site. Moreover, you can give different users distinct permissions depending on their role.

      With this double-layered system, you can ensure that each user only sees and accesses the features that are appropriate for them. Furthermore, you can create custom roles with unique capabilities, which is a great way to provide additional functionality for advanced users or clients who need certain abilities not available in the default roles.

      Both user roles and permissions are set by the Administrator, which is typically the WordPress site owner. By default, there are six different user roles: Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber. Each role has its own set of capabilities, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

      User roles and permissions play an important role in ensuring that your WordPress website is secure and runs smoothly. By managing these settings, you can control who has access to what areas of your site, and what they can do there.

      If someone has too many privileges, they can end up publishing low-quality content or changing settings that impact the functionality or appearance of your site. The good news is that when you implement user roles and capabilities, you can have peace of mind knowing that only trusted parties have full admin access.

      An Overview of the Default User Roles in WordPress

      Now that you know a bit about the importance of user roles, let’s take a closer look at the six default user roles you can choose from when managing your WordPress website. Keep in mind that as an Administrator, you have the ability to create new user roles and assign them to specific users on your site. You can also manage permissions for existing user roles.

      Super Admin

      The Super Admin is the highest level of user on a WordPress site. This user has complete control over the site, including the ability to add and delete users, install and activate plugins, manage themes, and more. Super Admins are typically only found on multisite installations of WordPress.

      Super Admins can manage every setting and feature for each site within a multi-site network. They can add and delete other Administrators, create new sites, and control content across each site.


      Administrators have complete control over a single WordPress site. They can add and delete users, install and activate plugins, manage themes, etc. Usually, they are the site owners or main authors:


      WordPress Dashboard

      This powerful role has complete access to content, features, and site settings. They can update the CMS as well as plugins and themes. The Admin is also responsible for assigning user roles and capabilities to other registered users. Ideally, you should only have one Administrator per website.


      Editors can manage and publish posts and pages, as well as moderate comments. They can also schedule content and edit categories. However, they cannot install or activate plugins, or manage themes:

      WordPress Dashboard

      In a nutshell, an editor can modify content created by themselves and other users with a lower status, such as Authors and Contributors. They can’t change content for users with permissions higher than theirs, such as an Administrator. Typically, this role is reserved for content managers or similar titles.


      As you may have guessed, authors can write and publish their own posts and pages. They can also delete their own posts.  However, they cannot publish, edit, or delete anyone else’s posts. Additionally, authors cannot add or delete users, install or activate plugins, or manage themes:

      WordPress Dashboard

      Unlike Contributors, Authors have access to the WordPress Media Library. While they can edit reader comments, they can only do so on their own posts.


      WordPress Contributors can write and submit their own posts for review by an Administrator or Editor. Once a post is published, they cannot edit it. Furthermore, contributors cannot add or delete users, install or activate plugins, or manage themes.

      Contributors are usually roles assigned to freelance writers or guest bloggers. This role is also commonly used for new hires whose content needs editing or reviewing before it can be published on the site.

      Once submitted for review, only the Editor or Administrator can publish their posts. Contributors cannot access the Media Library.


      Subscribers can manage their own profiles and read posts and pages on a WordPress site. They cannot write or publish their own posts or pages, nor can they add or delete users, install or activate plugins, or manage themes:

      WordPress User Profile Personal Options screen

      Subscribers have the fewest permissions and capabilities of all the WordPress roles. It is the default user role set for new registrations.

      There are a few additional user role options available on some WordPress sites. For example, if you’re running a WooCommerce site, Shop Managers have similar capabilities to Administrators, but with some added features specifically for managing WooCommerce stores. For instance, they can add and delete products, manage orders, and more.

      How to Manage User Roles in WordPress 

      Now that you have a better sense of what each user role can do, let’s get into how to manage them. Below, you’ll find instructions for how to add, delete, and update users and user roles in WordPress.

      1. Creating and Deleting Users in WordPress

      Before you assign a user role in WordPress, you first need to have a user to attach it to. To add a new user in WordPress, you can navigate to Users > Add New, then fill in the information. This will include details such as username, email, and password:

      WordPress add new User

      Note that, by default, the Role is automatically set to Subscriber. When you’re done, you can click on the Add New User button at the bottom of the screen.

      Alternatively, you can create a new user through your database. To do this, you can navigate to phpMyAdmin from your cPanel dashboard (or whichever system your host uses), then select your WordPress database.

      Next, locate the wp_users table (name may vary depending on your database prefix):

      phpMyAdmin user database

      Once you click on the users table, you can select the Insert tab:

      phpMyAdmin user database

      On this screen, you can enter the following credentials:

      • user_login: The username you want to assign the user.
      • user_pass: The password for the user’s account; you can select MD5 in the Function drop-down.
      • user_email: The email address you want to use.
      • user_registered: The date and time for when the user will be registered.
      • user_status: You can set this value to “0”.

      When you’re done filling out the details, you can click on the Go button at the bottom of the screen. Next, navigate back to your WordPress database, then select the wp_usermeta table, followed by the Insert tab:

      phpMyAdmin user database

      You can insert the following details in the form:

      • unmeta_id: This is autogenerated, so you can leave it blank.
      • User_id: The id of the user you created.
      • Meta_key: You can set this as “wp_capabilities”.
      • meta_value: Add this as “a:1:{s:13:”administrator”;b:1;}”

      Finally, you can add another row. Then, input the following information:

      • Unmeta_id: You can leave this blank.
      • User_id: The id of the user you created.
      • Meta_key: You can make this “wp_user_level”.
      • Meta_value: You can put this as “10”.

      When you’re finished, you can click on the Go button to save your changes.

      To find a full list of your users, you can go to Users > All Users from your admin interface:

      WordPress Users screen

      To delete a user from your WordPress dashboard, you can hover your mouse over the name of the user, then click on the Delete link. That’s it!

      You can delete a user from your WordPress database as well. To do so, log into phpMyAdmin, then navigate to the wp_users table:

      phpMyAdmin user database

      Next to each user, you’ll find an Edit, Copy, and Delete option. Simply select Delete to remove the user.

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      2. Adding a User Role 

      There are a few ways to create a new user role in WordPress. The easiest way is to go through the admin interface. As you may have noticed in the last section, you can assign a user role at the time of creating a new user.

      To assign or update a role to an existing user, you can navigate to User from your WordPress dashboard, then select the Edit link under the user name:

      WordPress User Editor

      At the bottom of the screen, you can select an option from the Role drop-down menu:

      WordPress select User Role Administrator

      When you’re done, you can simply select the Add New User or Update User button at the bottom of the screen.

      Another way you can add a new user role in WordPress is by manually editing your code. For instance, you can add a custom user role, such as Moderator, with the add_role() function.

      To do so, you can add the following code to your theme’s functions.php file:

      add_role( 'new_user_role', __( 'Moderator' ), array( 'read' => true, 'edit_posts' => true, 'delete_posts' => true ) );

      When you’re done, be sure to update the file to save your changes. It’s as simple as that!

      3. Deleting a User Role in WordPress

      If you want to delete a user role in WordPress so that it is no longer an option, you can do so by editing your theme’s files. Keep in mind that modifying theme files can be risky, so it’s best to create a backup of your site before you continue on.

      To get started, go to Appearance > Theme File Editor in your WordPress dashboard. Next, locate and open the Theme Functions file:

      WordPress Theme Editor

      In this file, you can add one (or all) of the following code snippets, depending on which user role(s) you want to remove:

      remove_role( 'subscriber' );
      remove_role( 'editor' );
      remove_role( 'contributor' );
      remove_role( 'author' );

      When you’re done, select the Update File to save your changes.

      4. Updating Existing User Roles and Permissions

      If you want to update an existing user’s permissions, you can select the Edit link from the User list. You can then scroll to the bottom of the screen and modify the role by selecting a new one from the User Role drop-down menu. Remember to save your changes.

      Another option is to use a plugin, such as User Role Editor:

      WordPress User Role editor plugin

      This free version of this tool lets you easily change user roles and capabilities. Once installed and activated on your site, you can browse to Users > User Role Editor:

      WordPress User Role Editor

      Next, you can select the checkboxes of the capabilities you want to allow the selected role to have. When you’re done, click on the Update button at the bottom of the screen to save your changes.

      The plugin also lets you add new roles or delete ones that you aren’t using. It even lets you assign capabilities on a per-user basis.

      Tips for Picking the Right User Roles and Permissions

      As a general rule of thumb, it’s a smart idea to set the user role as low as possible. In other words, you want to give users as few permissions as possible that won’t interfere with or impact their ability to do their assigned tasks.

      Selecting the roles for your users should be based on the level of access that’s necessary.There are also specific roles for certain use cases.

      For example, if you have a full-time writer for your WordPress website, you can assign them the Author role. They’ll be able to write, draft, and publish posts on your site, as well as access the Media Library. However, they won’t be able to access, edit, or delete other pages and posts. Therefore, if this is a necessary capability, you may want to assign them the Editor role.

      On the other hand, if you have a freelance writer or a new hire that you don’t want to give publishing privileges to, you can make them a Contributor. This will let them write pages and posts, but they won’t be able to publish them. They can only submit it to the Editor (or Admin) for review.

      Consider assigning the Contributor role to anyone that doesn’t work in-house. We also recommend having as few Administrators as possible. This can help safeguard your site and prevent errors.

      If you have a multi-site installation, it’s a good idea to have one Super Admin. That way, they can handle any security or site issues that arise on any of the sites without interference or confusion from other admins. However, you could assign a single Administrator or Editor for each of the sites within your multisite network.

      Troubleshooting WordPress User Role and Permission Issues

      WordPress user roles and permissions are relatively straightforward and easy to use. However, sometimes issues arise, which can make it difficult for users with certain roles or permissions to carry out their tasks properly.

      One of the most common is being locked out of your WordPress admin and encountering a page with the message “Sorry, you are not allowed to access this page”. This error can be frustrating because it can be challenging to nail down the cause of it.

      However, if you see this message it’s likely because there’s a permission setting that is preventing you from accessing a certain area for security purposes. If you’re an Administrator or should have access, there are a few potential solutions you can try out.

      If this issue occurred directly after a WordPress update, restore the previous version of your site. Next, you can try disabling all of your plugins and re-enabling them one-by-one. You can also try activating a default WordPress theme. These steps can help you narrow down the source of the notification.

      Alternatively, you can check to ensure that you have the necessary Administrator privileges. To do this, navigate to phpMyAdmin then to the wp_users table.

      Next, locate your username and make a note of your ID. Browse to the wp_usermeta table and locate your metauser ID:

      phpMyAdmin user database

      Under the Metavalue column, it should read as the following:


      If there is something else in this field, we recommend editing it to replace it with the above. Simply save your changes when you’re done.

      Useful WordPress User Role and Permissions Plugins

      At this point, you likely understand the various settings and options you have for changing user roles and permissions in WordPress. However, to make the process even easier, you might consider using a plugin.

      We already discussed the User Role Editor plugin, but there are a handful of additional options to choose from. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular ones and explain what you can use them for.


      Members is a plugin that lets you manage the permissions of registered users:


      It’s beginner-friendly, boasting an intuitive interface that is easy to navigate. You can use it to create new roles and add permissions to each one. You can also clone user roles and customize the permissions for blog content.

      PublishPress Capabilities

      PublishPress Capabilities is another useful tool that can help you gain more control over your user roles:


      It lets you add new roles, clone existing ones, and add individual permissions for each role. You can also backup, migrate, and restore the permissions. It can be used for single websites or on multisite networks. The plugin also integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce, which is helpful for store and product management.

      WPFront User Role Editor

      WPFront User Role Editor is a popular plugin you can use for managing user roles in WordPress:


      You can use it to create, delete, and modify user permissions. You can add new names for roles and clone existing ones. It also lets you assign multiple roles to users.

      Take Control of User Role Management on Your WordPress Site

      If you’re looking to manage WordPress user roles and permissions, it’s important to understand the different capabilities associated with each role. With this information, you can better manage your site and ensure that users have the appropriate level of access to your content and features.

      Whether you’re managing a simple blog or creating a complex website with multiple authors, user permissions are an important part of WordPress. With the right set of permissions in place, you can ensure that your site remains secure and runs smoothly.

      Are you interested in learning about more ways you can make managing your WordPress site as simple as possible? Check out our Managed WordPress Hosting solutions to learn about DreamPress!

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      Backups vs. Disaster Recovery: The Ultimate Guide

      Backups or disaster recovery (DR)?

      If you’re planning a data defense strategy for your company, it’s important to understand which strategy is best for your business needs—backup or disaster recovery.

      The Difference Between Backup and Disaster Recovery

      Backup refers to the process of saving data by copying it to a safe place. Data can then be recovered in the event of infrastructure or service issues. Backups can take many forms, including duplicating data on the cloud or a secondary server in the same production data center, or saving data to a remote data center, etc.

      Disaster recovery involves a set of policies, tools and procedures to enable the recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructure and systems following a natural or human-induced disaster. Disaster recovery focuses on IT supporting critical business functions as part of business continuity, which involves keeping all essential aspects of a business functioning despite significant disruptive events.

      While both solutions can help protect your data and critical information against unplanned disruptions and outages, sometimes backups alone aren’t enough.

      Here is a breakdown of what you can expect from backups and disaster recovery solutions, so you can ensure your business keeps running even if your primary servers go down.

      Basic Backup Solutions

      Remember back in college or high school when you had to write a big term paper or thesis and you would save your work to a jump drive or CD (yes, those used to be a thing) in case your computer crashed and you lost everything?

      You were running a basic backup of your most critical files.

      How Backups Work

      Backups work by providing quick and easy access to your data in case of smaller disruptions like outages, lost equipment, accidental deletion or hard drive crashes. Backup solutions copy your existing information to a second storage environment. You could choose to simply back up a few important files or your entire database.

      The Cons of Backup Solutions

      There are a few drawbacks to relying on backup solutions as your failsafe. Consider the college term paper example: If you have a sudden inspiration and write three more pages just to have your computer crash before saving your work to your backup source, you’ll have to start from the last moment you backed up. It’s the same with your business files—your data will only be updated to your previous backup.

      Since many companies use backup for smaller-scale outages, in many instances they will keep their backups on-site or close to their primary facility. If these companies are hit by widespread natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes, there’s a chance those backups could go offline as well.

      Cloud Backup Solutions

      As a response, cloud-based backup options are becoming more popular because data center providers are able to offer near real-time data replication at off-site locations. In some cases, these cloud backup solutions are more cost-effective and reliable for business needs.


      Disaster Recovery Solutions

      For more large-scale outages, disaster recovery is your best option.

      Disaster recovery solutions cover more than just the major natural disasters that might immediately come to mind. In fact, only about 10 percent of unplanned outages are caused by weather. That’s behind system failure, cyber incidents and human error.

      Disaster recovery solutions replicate your environment, so if there is a major disruption, an automatic failover transfers the management and operation of your infrastructure to a secondary machine and site to keep your applications and business online. Your servers will then run off your disaster recovery site until your primary facility is back online and capable of resuming system functionality.

      It’s important to note that disaster recovery options come in all shapes and sizes. Synchronous solutions replicate your data in near real-time. That makes this option one of the most comprehensive, but also generally more expensive. On the other hand, asynchronous solutions have more delayed duplication, which means some of your most recent data may not be recovered.

      Important Backup and Disaster Recovery Terms

      Understanding a few essential terms can help develop your strategic decisions and enable you to better evaluate backup and disaster recovery solutions.

      • Recovery time objective (RTO) is the amount of time it takes to recover normal business operations after an outage. As you look to set your RTO, you’ll need to consider how much time you’re willing to lose—and the impact that time will have on your bottom line. The RTO might vary greatly from one type of business to another. For example, if a public library loses its catalog system, it can likely continue to function manually for a few days while the systems are restored. But if a major online retailer loses its inventory system, even 10 minutes of downtime—and the associated loss in revenue—would be unacceptable.
      • Recovery point objective (RPO) refers to the amount of data you can afford to lose in a disaster. You might need to copy data to a remote data center continuously so that an outage will not result in any data loss. Or you might decide that losing five minutes or one hour of data would be acceptable.
      • Failover is the disaster recovery process of automatically offloading tasks to backup systems in a way that is seamless to users. You might fail over from your primary data center to a secondary site, with redundant systems that are ready to take over immediately.
      • Failback is the disaster recovery process of switching back to the original systems. Once the disaster has passed and your primary data center is back up and running, you should be able to fail back seamlessly as well.
      • Restore is the process of transferring backup data to your primary system or data center. The restore process is generally considered part of backup rather than disaster recovery.

      Backups vs. Disaster Recovery: How to Choose the Best Solution for Your Business

      In some cases, just the backup is enough to protect certain parts of your business from interruptions. For example, a complete disaster recovery plan for computers or mobile devices intended for employees generally does not require a full disaster recovery solution. If an employee’s device is lost or broken, your company is unlikely to be critically affected. You can replace the device and restore your data from a backup.

      On the other hand, disaster recovery is crucial to protecting services and infrastructure that your company depends on to operate on a day-to-day basis. For example, suppose your employees’ PCs run as “thin clients” dependent on a central server to work. In that case, an interruption on that server can critically affect the business’ entire operation as it will prevent all employees from being able to use their workstations. Such an event is much more severe than an individual workstation break.

      In most cases, the best solutions involve both backups and disaster recovery.

      A solid backup plan that keeps your data accessible is helpful for minor disruptions, but without a larger, more comprehensive strategy, can cause all sorts of problems for your company. For instance, if your business collects, stores or transmits information that requires strict PCI DSS or HIPAA compliance, you will want to make sure those files are properly backed up and accessible in the event of a disaster—which might not be possible with basic backup solutions.

      Consider incorporating your basic backup under the umbrella of a larger disaster recovery strategy to ensure you’re fully protected. Third-party providers will offer cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solutions that are often more cost-effective and appropriate for your business needs.

      Do your homework and determine the best strategy for your company. Because it’s not a question of if, but when you’ll need to recover from an unplanned outage.

      Explore INAP Disaster Recovery as a Service.


      Original version published May 30, 2018

      Thiago Alcantara


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      DreamHost’s Ultimate Small Business Resource Guide

      We see you, small business owners! You bring character and diversity to your hometowns and spice to your niche on the internet. You create jobs. You build local economies and provide unique products and services with a personal touch big corporations can only try to replicate. Plus, you are living your dream: turning your passion into a money-making venture that improves the world and gives you the chance to be your own boss.

      We know how hard you work to make this dream a reality. It’s never easy to run your own business, but the current COVID-19 global pandemic has been a particular plague on small businesses. Governments around the world have social distancing guidelines to stop the spread of this coronavirus, bringing global economies to their knees.

      With people stuck at home, non-essential businesses closed, and millions out of work, the customers you rely on to stay afloat either can’t come to your shop or are short on cash for anything outside living expenses. None of this is your fault, and it is happening despite your diligent work and vision for your business.

      Even National Small Business Week — an annual springtime celebration of your essential place in the U.S. economy scheduled for this week — has been postponed thanks to COVID-19. But we are going to celebrate you anyway! Here at DreamHost, we believe in small business, and we are proud to provide a platform and digital home for so many of you.

      The pandemic will let up eventually, and we are still rooting for you. To help you get some ideas for how to build and boost your business, we’ve collected our best advice for small business owners — all in one place.

      Read on to find essential tips about:

      Feel free to use the links above to jump around to the most pertinent articles for you and your business — or read straight on through for an overview of all the advice we have to offer.

      You Can Build a Website

      Whether you want to start a blog or run a small business, DreamHost makes it easy to begin your online journey. Our shared hosting plans give you everything you need to thrive online at an affordable price.

      Building a Small Business Website

      In the small-business world, your website is everything. It’s your homestead on the frontier of the web. It declares your brand to the world and is often the first impression potential customers have of your business.

      For many of you, your website is your business.

      Even if your business is a brick-and-mortar operation — such as a restaurant or antique store — your company’s website needs to be helpful, optimized, and updated and maintained regularly. Your website provides valuable info, including where to find you and when, and drives customers off their couches and into your stores.

      The internet is where your customers spend most of their time, especially right now. Use these resources to learn how to get going on WordPress, build a beautiful website from the ground up, and tailor it to fit your own business.

      Building an Online Store

      If you have an online business — or if you want to start selling your products online in addition to your physical store — a reliable and attractive online shop is what you need. Your customers want to browse, find the products they want, and check out without a glitch. To make that happen, you need to build an online store with a trusted platform in addition to your business’s WordPress website.

      It’s surprisingly easy to get an online shop up and keep it going — you just need the right tools and tips. We love WooCommerce and Shopify, and you’ll learn about both, plus more tips and tricks for selling online, in the helpful guides below.

      Small Business Advice

      You small business owners are a scrappy bunch, and much of what you know you learned through good, old fashioned experience. There’s no education like the one that comes from getting out there and making your own mistakes.

      As valuable as mistakes and failures are, we want to set you up as much as possible for success and triumph. In this section, you’ll find a roundup of our best advice for entrepreneurs — learn how to manage everything from your stress to your small business website and beyond.

      Small-Biz Tools and Resources

      You want your small business to reach its full potential — and so do we! No person is an island, and the same goes for businesses. We all need a little help and support sometimes, and when we use available tools, we can get more done in less time.

      There are so many tools out there to help you manage and grow your business, and to optimize the whole enterprise for success. Stop doing things the hard way. Here you’ll find all of our favorite tools, apps, plugins, and more for making the work of running your business a little easier.

      Ways to Make Money Online

      Thanks to the internet, there’s never been a better time to start a side hustle. Money-making opportunities abound online, from blogging to affiliate marketing.

      Whether you want to build up an extra income source on top of your full-time gig or are looking for ideas to build up your business, we got you. Let’s walk through our favorite — not to mention lucrative and legitimate — ways to make money online.

      Small-Biz Marketing Tips

      There are more than 1.5 billion (and counting) websites on the internet today. So how does your humble food blog or photography portfolio get noticed, by the right people, amid all the noise?

      One word: marketing.

      “If you build it, they will come” is an adage that doesn’t hold up so well when it comes to your business’s presence online. Merely having a website just isn’t enough; you need to draw people to it for it to do any good. You need some smart strategies to bump your website up to the top of search results, find and engage social media followers, and encourage positive reviews.

      Do you want your brand to get noticed? Find your target market. Drive traffic to your website. Do some smart social media and email marketing. Create killer content and optimize your site for top search engine results. How? We thought you’d never ask: Learn or brush up on these skills with our handy dandy guides to marketing your small business.

      You’ve Got This

      There you have it — everything we’ve ever written to guide, inform, and inspire small business owners in one handy guide. We know that you’ve got what it takes to make it through this crisis, and we hope these resources can help you get there.

      Now, we have a question for you: How can we help? What small-biz related questions are keeping you up at night? Holler at us over on Twitter to let us know which additional topics and resources you’d like us to cover for small business owners.

      Are you wondering where to get started? You can easily build an online presence for your small business with shared hosting. Our plans, which start at just $2.59 per month, offer all the tools you need to build your business and reach your customers.

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