It is true that if anyone chooses to build their website on WordPress, there is no looking back, due to its highly customizable and flexible feature that no other CMS can provide. And users eventually end up having multiple websites running on WordPress.
In this regard, you might be wondering is there any more efficient way to manage all these WordPress sites from a single dashboard. Well, the answer is WordPress multisite.
But the fun fact is, even the long-term WordPress users are also not aware of What is WordPress multisite? and end up facing problems managing sites.
So, in this ultimate guide, we will cover everything about WordPress multisite, its benefits, and how you can implement it in a very comprehensive way, so that majority of WordPress users can easily avail of this ultimate feature and make things easier, more efficient, and manageable.
Let us get started!!
What is WordPress Multisite?
WordPress Multisite is a WordPress feature in which you can add multiple WordPress sites to form a network on the same WordPress installation. In this feature, you can either add existing sites or add new sites to the network.
Previously known as WordPress Multi-User, this is not a new feature of WordPress, and it has been available since the launch of WordPress version 3.0. A WordPress user can use this feature for a variety of purposes such as updating all sites on a network with a single click, managing, and giving permissions to different users for different sites on the same WordPress multisite network.
What Is WordPress Multisite Used For?
WordPress multisite is an amazing feature of WordPress and can be very helpful for those users who want to manage WordPress sites separately from a single dashboard. Let us check some WordPress multisite Examples that let you know the areas it can be used for.
Corporate and Business Sites
If you are running websites for different sections of a corporate or business, then WordPress multisite features can be very efficient and useful for you. You will not have to do WordPress core updates for each website on the multisite network, you can assign different roles for each website in the network, manage all of them from the single dashboard and even you can use a single plugin and theme for all the websites on the same multisite network.
If you are running multiple personal WordPress sites, you can make it easier and more efficient by moving all of them on a multisite network. IT has mainly three benefits:
- All the websites will have the same themes and plugins (Saves resources).
- Easy to update all of them and also you can save hosting charges by integrating all your websites on the same network rather than hosting them individually.
- You will be easily able to display information from one website to another on the same multisite network.
For Schools and Universities
Schools and Universities use WordPress multisite feature to create different websites for each dept. such as faculty blogs, students’ blogs, activities, news, or forums. Since all these different websites based on different dept will share the parent website’s database, it would be easy for the university admin to manage all of them on a multisite network.
For Building A Community Network
Groups, communities, or organizations require an online platform to mark their presence and allow inclusion from all over the world. But this can be very expensive to host each and every group or community website. With WordPress’s multisite network, you can save a lot of money and other resources, also you open the doors for other groups that can join your network.
You will have the advantage of installing a single plugin and using its feature on all the individual websites. On top of that, it will become easy for site owners to follow each other’s websites, communicate and share some information between two sites through the main admin screen.
You have to buy just one web hosting plan and a single WordPress installation that works for all the websites on the multisite network and saves a lot of money.
Therefore, WordPress multisite is very popular and commonly used by NGOs, educational institutes, and charities.
To Generate Revenues
Yes, you heard it right, you can also generate revenues by using the multisite network. The same business model that WordPress.com uses to generate income.
WordPress creates a multisite network with the parent domain as WordPres.com and offers people the chance to build their site on the same WordPress network.
Similarly, you can have your own base or parent website, activate the multisite features and allow people to build their own site on your multisite network. You can either charge them or make them completely free. After that, you can offer them different plans ranging from free to premium with different benefits and add-ons.
Pros and Cons of WordPress Multisite
- The primary advantage of using a WordPress multisite network is the ability to easily manage multiple sites from a single dashboard.
- You can assign different roles and give permissions to each website on the network.
- Update WordPress for all the websites on the same network with a single click.
- You can install and activate a single plugin and theme for all the sites on the same multisite network.
- You can store all the data of websites of multisite networks on a single backup.
- Since each WordPress installation for an individual website can take a significant number of resources on the server, using a multisite network can save your resources and hence better optimization.
- If anything went wrong with the network, it will affect all the multisite on the same network.
- If any one of the websites on the multisite network got hacked, the other websites can also be compromised.
- If any of the sites receive high traffic volume, it will eventually affect the performance of another website on the same network too.
- As the number of sites increases in multisite networks, it will become difficult to manage them within the multisite installation.
- Not all web hosting companies provide multisite features.
- It would be very difficult for you to switch between multisite installation back to a single site.
- All the sites on the multisite network will share the same user profile rather than individual user profiles for each website.
What are the Features of WordPress Multisite?
As we have already mentioned many times in the above sections, how WordPress multisite can help you to have different WordPress sites within the same WordPress installation, this is how it would look like:
- Subdomain: www.blog.example.com (Where the “blog” is the subdomain and “example” is the primary domain and “.com” is the top-level domain)
- Subdirectory: www.example.com/blog (Where the “blog” is subdirectory)
- Mapped domains: either a subdomain or subdirectory is mapped with a unique domain.
Now let us see what features you will have in WordPress multisite:
When you enable WordPress Multisite feature, you will have complete control of the entire network and will become Super Admin. Just like any regular site admin in which you have complete power and control of a particular single website. As a super admin, you will have control over all the individual admins of all the websites on the same network.
Being a super admin, you can update WordPress for all the websites on the network, install new plugins, add themes or customize them for all the websites.
Ability to Make Multinational/Multilingual Sites
Another feature you will have is the ability to create different sites based on different languages, currencies, or regions, which are highly required for eCommerce stores.
While considering managing the content of websites on the multisite network, both the super admin and the website admins have the power. But the super admin has a little edge over the content management on the entire network.
Irrespective of that, the website admin can still choose whichever part of the main domain content to display on their respective website. When we talk about plugin and theme controllability, the super admin has complete control over installing new themes and plugins, but if required web admins can either deactivate or activate them on their respective websites.
Some Points to Consider Before Enabling Multisite
To avoid problems in the future after enabling a multisite network, there are some points you need to consider:
- Before enabling a multisite network on your website, decide How big the network is going to be and check the prices of different web-hosting providers, the features they provide, and their comparison.
- If your multisite network is going to be small, shared hosting can be the most cost-efficient option for you.
- In case you are planning to have a large multisite network, then Managed VPS or Managed dedicated hosting would be the best option.
- There are many web hosting companies out there, but we highly recommend you to consider WPOven for its Fully Managed and fast web hosting service that provides complete multisite support with unlimited site hosting.
How to Use the WordPress Multisite Setup Network on Your WordPress Site?
When you decide to enable the multisite functionality on your WordPress site, you will have initially two options: Either you can enable it on a new WordPress site or on an old one.
However, the steps in both cases are the same but with a slight difference which we will talk about later in the section.
But first, let us enable WordPress multisite on a brand-new website.
After installing WordPress and doing all the basic initial steps, the first thing you need to do is to connect your website with the FTP client FileZilla and locate the wp-config.php file to edit. After that follow the steps given below:
Step 1 Open the wp-config.php file and add the following line to activate the MultiSite Network option.
define ('WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true);
But, before we proceed to the next step, we need you to know the difference between a Sub-domain Multisite and a sub-directory Multisite.
Sub-domain multisite: Example: http://subsite.example.com/
Sub-directory multisite: Example: http://example.com/site
Step 2 Now login to your WordPress admin area and navigate to
'<strong>Tools' -> 'Network Setup</strong>'
and fill in the form. After filling out the form you will be directed to a page that asks you to update your ‘wp-config.php’ file with the settings provided there and also shows the Apache Settings to be updated.
Now paste the codes provided for the wp-config.php file just above the line
"/* That's all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */"
Here is a sample code for Sub-directory Multisite for a domain with the name example.com
$base = '/';
Here is a sample code for Sub-domain Multisite for a domain with the name example.com
$base = '/';
Now add the code provided for the .htaccess file, save and close. However, if you are using NGINX instead of Apache, you can check out his tutorial “click here“.
How to Enable WordPress Multisite on an Existing or Old Website?
Now, if you are not using a fresh WordPress install and want to enable a multisite network in your old website, for that the first thing you have to do is to deactivate all the plugins and repeat all the steps we have already mentioned above.
The only difference would be you won’t be able to create subdirectories because there will be a higher chance that it will clash with the URLs of existing pages and posts.
For example, suppose you have a website xyzpaints.com that is more than one month old and you have a dedicated page for Varnishes with URL xyzpaints.com/varnishes. If you want to create a subdirectory, there would be a higher chance that it might conflict with the URL of the existing page, and WordPress will be unable to decide on which URL to display content.
WordPress Multisite Configuration
After successfully setting up Multisite on your website, the next thing is to configure the WordPress multisite settings and for that, you have to move back to your Multisite network dashboard.
- Go to your admin toolbar and click on My Sites > Network Admin Option > Dashboard.
2. Now click on the Settings option in the admin sidebar in which you will find your website title is mentioned and the admin’s email address. Check and verify each field and make sure that everything is ok before proceeding further.
Through this setting, you will be allowing users to register as well as existing users to create a website on your network. If you check the Registration notification box, you will be notified whenever a new user registers to your network.
If you want to allow individual site admins of the network to add new users to their site, check the box “Add new Users”.
And if you do not allow certain domains to register on your multisite network, mention all the domains in the “Limited Email Registration box one domain per line.
New Site Settings
In the new site settings, you can configure all the options such as welcome emails, comments, first posts, or pages that are set by default of a new website on a multisite network. You can make changes to it and customize it as per your requirements.
Similarly, you can also set upload settings and allocate a definite amount of storage space to each website on the multisite network to avoid abusing server resources. In this way, you can efficiently use your server resources without hampering any website on the same network. The default storage space will be provided you with 100Mb, where you can either decrease or increase this limit.
In addition to that, you can also set the types of files that users can upload on their website such as jpg, pdf, Docx, etc. You can even set the limit for max file size to be uploaded.
In the Menu settings as shown in the above image, when enabled administration menus for the plugins, the users will be easily able to either activate or deactivate plugins but will not be allowed to install new ones. After configuring all the options, the last thing left to do is to click on “Save changes” and your changes will be saved.
Themes and Plugins Settings for Multisite Network
Since each website on the multisite network does not have the power to either add or remove themes or plugins on their own, you as a super admin have to set up for them on the network.
To set up a theme for a multisite network, Go to your WordPress dashboard > My sites> Network Admin > Themes. After that, you will find a list of all the installed themes on the network available, now use these settings to make changes as per your requirements.
- Network enable: This setting will let web admins use their respective sites on the multisite network.
- Network disable: This setting will disallow the particular theme that you have been enabled earlier to use by the web admins on the multisite network.
- Add New: Through this setting, you can add a new theme to your multisite network.
To set up plugins for multisite networks, Go to your WordPress dashboard > My sites > Network Admin > Plugins. Now you have to click on the “Network Activate” option that you will find just below each plugin and add it to your multisite network.
Note: As we have already mentioned in the above sections if you have already enabled the administrative menu on the Network Settings page. The web admins of each site on the network will not be able to either delete or add new plugins but can be able to activate or deactivate the existing ones.
How to Add a New Site to the Multisite Network?
To add a new site to the multisite network the first thing you need to do is to Go to your WordPress dashboard > My sites > Network admin > Sites.
Now on the Sites page, you have to click on the “Add new” button as shown in the picture below:
Now when you click on the Add New button, a new page will open in which you have to fill up the details in the following field:
- Site Address (URL)
- Site Title
- Admin Email
Once done, click on the Add site button and you are done.
How to Do Domain Mapping on Your Multisite Network?
Domain mapping is one of the coolest features in the Multisite networks through which you can show your websites of the multisite network as independently hosted websites.
Previous to the WordPress 4.5 version, you had to use a WordPress plugin to avail yourself of this feature but now, plugins are not required anymore and it has become WordPress’s native feature.
To do domain mapping, the first thing you have to do is to make sure the domain you want to use is pointing to your network. Once successfully pointing the domain to your network, you have to now add a domain name to the site settings.
For that, go to your Network Admin > Sites and click on the Edit option that is available just below the site that you want to map.
Now a site editing page will open, where you have to add the domain name just like in the picture shown below:
Now add the domain name followed by clicking on the “Save Changes” button to complete the process.
Some WordPress Multisite Errors You May Encounter While Setup
There are also higher chances that you might encounter an error while setting up a Multisite network. So, for your convenience let us see what are some common errors you may encounter and how you can easily tackle them:
Trouble While Logging In
There are some chances that you might face a login in error issue in the multisite network. Especially if you have created subdirectories instead of subdomains. In case you are unable to get access to the individual websites on the WordPress multisite network, you can check if replacing
define ('SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', true);
in your wp-config.php file with,
define ('SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', 'false');
WordPress Multisite Cookies Error
It is also possible that you might encounter another type of error while logging in to your WordPress multisite installation which is generally displayed on your screen as:
“Cookies are blocked or not supported by your browser. You must enable cookies to use WordPress“
This type of error you usually encounter when you have done custom domain mapping. So, to remove this error the best thing you can do is to add the following codes to your wp-config.php file.
Missing Registered Users
After doing Multisite network installation, it is also possible that you notice some users are missing even after doing registration. It usually happens when you didn’t configure your mail settings in your multisite network and users are unable to receive an activation email or your PHP mail function might detect it as a junk email and send it to the junk folder.
To fix this issue, you can use a Free SMTP to send activation emails that have proper domain authentication and get your emails to the user’s inbox.
From the above-detailed post on “What is WordPress multisite”, you must have seen the various advantages of WordPress multisite and how it has been practiced in several fields. You will have the power to control and manage multiple sites from a single dashboard. Due to this, it becomes easy to monitor websites efficiently and easily.
And we hope, by now you will be easily able to set up WordPress multisite after reading this detailed post and also able to fix any error encountered after the Multisite installation.
What is your opinion about WordPress multisite? Are you already using it or will you consider using it in the future? Do let us know in the comment section below:
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Difference Between WordPress and WordPress Multisite?
WordPress multisite is a network of individual WordPress sites that has one WordPress installation and a super admin, whereas if you have separate individual WordPress sites, you have to install WordPress on each one of them and have their own respective admins.
Is WordPress Multisite Good?
WordPress multisite is good in the following ways:
1. Easy to manage Multiple sites efficiently from a single dashboard
2. You will have full control of each website on the multisite network.
3. You can update WordPress for all the websites on the multisite network with a single click.
4. Save your resources and Web hosting cost.
5. You can store all the multisite data in a single backup.
6. Activate and install single themes or plugins for all the websites simultaneously.
Why You Should Not Use WordPress Multisite?
You should not use WordPress multisite due to the following reasons:
1. Migration would be complex and very difficult.
2. If any of the websites get hacked, it will also affect other websites in the same multisite network.
3. If any of the websites receive a high volume of traffic, the performance of other websites on the same network would be affected.
4. The number of sites increases in multisite networks, and it will be difficult to manage.
5. Difficult to switch back from multisite installation to single site.