Ultimate Guide To Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network [2022]

WordPress has a built-in feature that lets you create multiple sites on the same WordPress installation. This article will act as a guide to install and configure WordPress Multisite.

Why You Needs WordPress Multisite?

Multisite allows you to run and manage multiple virtual sites on a single WordPress installation. Multisite has been with un since WordPress 3.0 and is a continuation of WordPress Multiuser project or WPMU. You can create any number of sites and manage them easily with the same login credentials. Moreover, other users can also sign up and create blogs on the domain if you wish to allow it.

Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network

The installation of Multisite is not much complicated than installing WordPress itself. The installation process is almost the same. The folder structure is the same, and so are the core files and code base. And the themes and plugins you use will be stored just once regardless of how many sites use them. This will reduce the server space that would be impossible to reduce if you were using different WordPress installations.

The Pros:

There are times when it would be wise to use a Multisite network rather than managing tons of separate sites. Here are some advantages:

  • It’s easier for the network administrator to manage multiple sites.
  • Each standalone site will have its admin who can manage only that particular site.
  • The plugins and themes you download and activate can be used for multiple sites. No need to download them again separately for each site.
  • The updating is easy. One master install and you’re done.

The Cons:

Although the concept of Multisite sounds helpful in managing tons of sites; there are some dark sides to it. Here are the disadvantages:

  • The sites on the network will go down altogether if one goes down. This is because the same resources are shared among all the sites.
  • If you are a beginner, managing resources can be hectic.
  • If anyone of the site on the network gets hacked; all the sites get hacked.
  • There are plugins that may not work well.

When to use WordPress Multisite Network?

If you have or plan to make a network of sites that share the same or similar functionality, Multisite is for you. So, if you are an individual or organization that have multiple sites and blogs, this is for you. Here are some scenarios where a multisite network could be useful:

  • Schools: Different departments with different sites.
  • Multinational Companies: Different locations, different sites.
  • A network of blogs.
  • Development: Showing clients their site’s work in progress.

These are not the only ones. Don’t worry if these are not the ones you’re looking for. If you think that you need Multisite, do a little research and see if it fits your need.

If you know WordPress well and are good in managing and hosting domains and upgrading networks; Multisite may not be difficult for you. If you are a beginner, you may want to rethink your decision and take your time to truly know WordPress.

It may not always be wise to use something just because you can. Before you go ahead and enable Multisite on your network, glance the following points;

  • If you want to manage only a small number of sites. Multisite works best if you have over 50 similar sites.
  • Some plugins and themes are not Multisite compatible.
  • Difficulty in migrating websites.
  • The hosting costs may be a bit too much.

Requirements for WordPress Multisite Network

Since all the sites on a Multisite network will use the same resources, the first and the most important thing you’ll need is a good WordPress hosting. If you want to have only a couple of websites, then you can stick with using shared hosting.

As you sites grow, you may need Virtual Private Server Hosting. It is an independent partition of a physical server. You’ll get more control and independence.

Finally, you’ll need to have good knowledge of WordPress if you want to use Multisite and manage it. Moreover, you will need to know how to edit files using FTP.

Activate WordPress Multisite

If you have decided to use Multisite. It’s time to activate it. This will differ depending on whether if the site is new or already established.

Another thing that you’ll need to keep in mind is whether you want to use subdomains or subdirectories. The one you’ll choose will depend on;

  1. Whether your network is new or already established.
  2. Whether the network is for personal sites or you’ll let other people set up or buy.
  3. Hosting permissions.
  4. Personal preference.

Choosing subdomains will make the URL look like http://sitename.network.com, whereas using subdirectories will make it look like http://network.com/site. If you have an already established site, you can choose the subdirectories option.

Activating Multisite on a New WordPress Installation

Follow the steps:

    1. Install WordPress on your server or local machine.

Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network

    1. Open the file “wp-config.php.” You’ll find the file inside the folder that you’ve installed WordPress.
    2. Search for the line “/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */”.

Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network

  1. Just above that line, paste or type “define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true );”
  2. Save the file.

Now, you’ll need to go to your WordPress site and install Multisite. Follow the steps below;

    1. Go to your WordPress site.
    2. Go to Tools -> Network Setup.

Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network

  1. Choose either subdomains or subdirectories depending on your preference.
  2. Set the title of your network and email of the administrator.

Finally, you’ll need to edit two critical files – wp-config.php and .htaccess;

You’ll be in Network Setup page. You’ll find some codes that need to be added into crucial files.

Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network

Open wp-config.php and .htaccess and copy the codes provided. Make sure you follow the instruction provided.

Save both the files.

This will install Multisite. You’ll have to log out and log in again to see the Multisite dashboard.

Activating Multisite on an Established WordPress Installation

If you want to convert your already established site to a Multisite network, you won’t be able to choose subdomains or subdirectories. Subdomains will be selected as default. This is to prevent the clash between URLs. The other steps are the same.

Creating Sites on Multisite Network

    1. Go to My Sites -> Network Admin.
    2. Go to Sites -> Add New.

Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network

  1. Enter the address, title, and the email address.

A new site will be created. You can find the list of the site on Sites -> All Sites.

Install and Activate Themes on Multisite Network

The super administrator will be able to install themes and allow other sites to use. You can either select individual sites or network activate. To install and network enable a theme;

  1. Go to Themes -> Add New inside Network admin screen.
  2. Enable Network Enable when “Installing Theme.”

It is possible to install theme only for one site. Follow to steps below;

    • Inside Network Admin, click Sites.
    • Find the name of the site and hover the cursor over it. Click Edit.
    • Click on the Themes tab. This will show you the theme settings for the site.

Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network

  • Find the theme you want to install and Enable it.

Now, if you go to the site’s administrator screen, inside Appearance -> Themes, you’ll find the theme you’ve just enabled.

Install and Activate Plugins on Multisite Network

Plugins can only be installed by the network administrator. These steps are for establishing a plugin network wide.

    • Inside Network Admin, go to Plugins -> Add New. Find and install a plugin.

Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network

  • Click on Network Activate when inside Installing Plugin screen.

To install a plugin on an individual site

  • Install a plugin from Plugins > Add New inside Network Admin.
  • Do not click on Network Activate.
  • Click on Return to Plugin Installer.
  • Go to the admin page of a single site and enable the plugin there.

You cannot activate or deactivate plugins as an admin of the single site.

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