WordPress Multisite Introduction and Installation

WPMS logoAs of the release of WordPress 3.0 in 2010, you have the ability to create a network of sites for fulfilling a variety of purposes by using the multisite feature. In this tutorial, we are going to bring you a comprehensive introduction to WordPress Multisite as well as the way of installing it accurately and efficiently.

Quick Overview of WordPress Multisite

Simply put it, WordPress Multisite is a WordPress mode specially designed for developers or webmasters to create a network of several blogs and websites. All these sites are running on a single installation of WordPress. Small or large, the real power of WordPress Multisite is the possibility for webmasters to create larger websites without needing extra money or to logically organizing the content and dividing tasks for multiple sites at the same time. The most well-known example of multisite network is WordPress.com.

However, WordPress Multisite used to be a totally different version of WP that is called WordPress MU. With the release of WordPress 3.0, this situation has changed. What we called WordPress Multisite today is a combination of regular WordPress and WordPress MU and it has become a WordPress core feature that can be turned on or off as per you specific requirements.

Pros of Using WordPress Multisite

  • Quick access: Literally, every member of the community will be granted the ability to quickly access to several blogs or websites. And they can add number of new sites for new events, gallery openings, product campaigns and more whenever they need them.
  • Streamlined site updates: As an administrator of a multisite network, he can save much time because one new update for WordPress and plugin will be distributed to all the sites. By contrast, if he is running multiple standalone sites, he will have to update for each site as well as each plugin separately.
  • Shared themes: Similar to plugins, themes automatically apply to all sites on the multisite network. However, if you don’t want all sites look the same, you can easily accomplish a unique look for each blog or website by making use of a common parent theme with several different child themes.
  • Content syndication: Community members don’t share content automatically, but the multisite administrator can make sites read content from each other by setting up the plugins instead of sending an HTTP request to a remote site. But as duplicate content will impact your site rankings badly in search engines, so you should be wary of duplicating content when using this feature.

Cons of Using WordPress Multisite

  • Some popular and powerful plugins are not available for multisite network.
  • If an individual site administrator wants to add plugins to his site, the only way is to ask for permission from the network administrator.
  • Once the network administrator installs a plugin, it will be available for all the sites regardless of whether they need it or not. And if an individual admin delete a plugin, other sites will be affected.
  • A multisite network consumes more energy and memory per page than a standalone site. Usually, a common shared hosting is able to support a standalone site but can’t boost a multisite network.
  • Since all sites in a multisite network are sharing one single database, migrating one site off the network is exceedingly complex.

Requirements for WordPress Multisite Installation

  1. Hosting environment requirements—To run a WordPress multisite network, you need a reliable hosting solution with rich server resources. Though most hosting providers claim to support WordPress Multisite, but not all of them can run a multisite network smoothly and successfully. If you are looking for a best hosting solution for WordPress Multisite, we recommend you to go with LiquidWeb or WPEngine.
  2. Admin requirements—Only when you’re the administrator of a WordPress installation can you have the ability to edit files and create directories in your server’s file system.
  3. Server requirements—Running a multisite network requires your server to be able to use .htaccess, or other complex rules like web.config and nginx.conf. You also need to make sure that you have loaded mod-rewrite on the Apache server.
  4. WordPress settings requirements—If you’re planning to install a multisite network based on an established WP installation, you need to modify the “own directory” settings. But if you just want to start from a fresh installation, no WP settings are required.

Activating Multisite on a Fresh WordPress installation

Firstly, you need to install WordPress on your server either with the help of an automatic installer or manual work. After that, you can open wp-config.php file up to enable the Network Setup menu item. Then, go to Administration>Tools>Network Setup to choose between sub-directories and sub-domains for your network. After creating a network of WordPress sites, you can choose to makes some changes to your server address, network title, and admin e-mail address.

The next step is to enable the network by editing your wp-config.php and .htaccess files with the text provided on the screen in below. Then, save both files.

WordPress Multisite Network

Now, you have had WordPress Multisite installed. The last step is to login in again, and start adding sites, themes, plugins or others on demand.

Acting Multisite on an Existing WordPress Installation

The steps of converting your existing site to a multisite network are just the same as the above but without being offered the selection between sub-directories and sub-domains. Note that once your site been in existence for more than one month, you will be allowed to use sub-domains only.

How to Uninstall WordPress Multisite

WordPress Multisite is a very powerful tool indeed, but sometimes you may find it suitable for your requirements. If you want to deactivate it, all you need is to work backwards and remove the changes you made earlier as follows.

Step1: Remove the multisite code from your wp-config.php file;

Step2: Remove the multisite code from your .htaccess file;

Step3: Remove multisite data from your website database;

Step4: Remove media files that have been uploaded to network sites.

Once you have completed all four steps, your website will be a regular WordPress website once again.

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