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What is WordPress Multisite and When You’ll Need it

by | February 21, 2018

Nowadays, being online is not opportunity it is a necessity. More and more it is becoming a matter of death and life. Metaphorically speaking, of course. And while there are simple steps that you can follow to install WordPress for the first time and to get traffic to your website, there is a lot more to being a webmaster than, creating content and sharing it.

Honestly, being a webmaster is not a kid’s game.


If you are about to nurture your projects for them to grow up and payback for all the efforts you’ve invested, you should look them in just that way. Like projects. And to yourself as a project manager. Meaning, you are responsible for their success or failure. Your projects aren’t and shouldn’t be treated as just side gig, or a hobby (except in the cases in which they are just that).

But what happens when the projects are way too many, or it’s one project that requires having more than one WordPress installation per se?

Whether you need to manage more than one WordPress Installations on the same domain (in different folders) or on different subdomains, WordPress Multisite is probably the easiest way to get those websites centralized and to govern them.

What is WordPress Multisite

Since WordPress 3.0 the CMS allows all of its users to create a centralized website network with ease. The WordPress Multisite is a feature of the CMS that makes it possible to control a network from 2 to even million websites under single WordPress Installation and in one Dashboard.

It will also provide you with the opportunity to let the users of your website create their own websites. Paid or for free.

It is easy to understand that this feature creates an enormous number of opportunities. One of the largest WordPress networks on the Internet is WordPress.com.

By using WordPress Multisite, you can manage a website in two directions of the website structure. Inward – in a different path(folder) – and outward – on a subdomain –  https://site2.example.com.

It is, of course, possible to go sideways and to control a website on a different domain. Yet, this will require domain mapping and it is best to do it by using a plugin. It is possible to do it in the Network itself but to achieve this result is considered Advanced administration. Thus, it is highly recommended to do it via a plugin.


When you won’t need WordPress Multisite

When I first heard of this feature I was hyped, and ideas started to go through my mind.

‘I can use the WordPress Multisite Feature for this and for that.’ – I thought. But still, I didn’t execute on any of these ideas.

Why? I simply don’t need to. If you don’t really understand how exactly the WordPress Multisite work, there is a big possibility for you to use it in an inappropriate way. The fact that you govern more than one WordPress Websites is not per se reason to use the Multisite feature. There are third-party tools like ManageWP and InfiniteWP. You can use them to achieve more or less similar results.

As I mentioned in the beginning, having even one website is per se complex task. Thus, if you are not sure if you need to use the Multisite feature, don’t do it.

Yet, here is a list of the cases in which you won’t need to use the Multisite feature.

  • If you manage multiple unrelated sites which do not use the same theme, plugins, or design scheme, Multisite may not be an ideal solution to manage all your sites.
  • If you manage a single site
  • If you are unsure of whether multisite would be a good fit for your needs (when in doubt, stick with a single site)
  • If each of your sites has a strong level of customization it is usually best to manage them separately
  • If each of your sites uses the same theme but with different custom functions added – since with Multisite each subsite shares the same themes and plugins, editing the theme would make changes for all sites using this theme.
  • If you are on a Personal level plan, these plans do not support the use of Multisite
  • You want to create a single site or blog and don’t plan to create any more in future.
  • You’re creating sites for multiple clients but each will be hosted separately, maybe with clients having their own hosting providers.
  • Each site you’re creating will need its own separate database (maybe for security reasons). multisite
  • Each site will need its own IP address.
  • Site administrators will need to install their own themes or plugins.
  • You’ll need to move your sites to another server (that this can be done but is more involved than for a standard site, and can be avoided completely if all you need is separate domains).
  • Your hosting doesn’t provide the necessary server requirements.
  • You don’t have access to the files on your server for editing.
  • All sites on the network share the same resources. This means that when your site is down, all other sites on the network go down as well.
  • Managing server resources in case of unexpected traffic can be difficult for a beginner level user.
  • If your website gets hacked, then this means all sites on your network will get hacked.
  • Some WordPress plugins may not work well on a multisite network.

If any the mentioned applies to you, I would recommend use the single-site WordPress installation and take advantage of a plugin, like Jetpack, or go for some third party service like the already mentioned ManageWP and InfinteWP.

When you’ll need WordPress Multisite

On the other hand, I am sure that you already saw the countless opportunities that the feature offers to you and its applications.

Let’s try to cover as much of these opportunities as possible. Bear in mind that almost every one of the listed has more than one implications, but going deeper is not just hard. The possible implications are limited only by your imagination.


Here is the list:

  • Since all sites within the Multisite network share the same WordPress core files, theme, and plugins, updating only has to happen once each time, rather than logging into several individual sites.
  • Easy managing of subdomains of your root domain in one central dashboard
  • Managing several sites which use the same theme and plugins becomes easier
  • As the network administrator, you can easily manage multiple sites from a single dashboard.
  • Each site on the network can have its own admins. The site admins will have the capabilities to manage only their own website.
  • You can install plugins and themes and activate them for multiple sites with one download.
  • The multisite network also makes it easier for you to manage updates. You only need to update your WordPress, plugins, or themes on one “master” install.
  • A magazine website with different sections managed by different teams.
  • A business website with sub-sites for different locations and branches.
  • Government or non-profit websites can use WordPress multisite for different departments, locations, and regions.
  • Your own network of blogs running on multiple subdomains.
  • Schools and colleges allowing students to create their own blogs on school servers.

Keep in mind that creating a WordPress Multisite is connected with a lot more resources than a single website installation. Especially the databases. Every WordPress installation creates 11 databases. Nine of them will be replicated every time a new site is added to the network.

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