Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Install WordPress Multisite - Beginner's Guide On WordPress Multisite

updated on Sep 25, 2017
How to Install WordPress Multisite - Beginner's Guide On WordPress Multisite Back in the year of 2010 with the WordPress version of 3.0, the development team of WordPress introduced a new feature of multisite, which is a continuation of the WordPress Multiuser project. As this powerful feature allows users to create multiple online platforms with the single WordPress installation, many people are looking to learn more about it. Here, we'd like to come out a beginner’s guide on this feature, telling you how to install WordPress multisite effectively in the following.

The General Information about WordPress Multisite

This is an advanced WordPress feature that allows all the users to generate a network of online platforms based on only one WordPress installation. This means only a single set of WordPress core files and data can power multiple websites. Even, while the plugins and themes can be shared, each website has its own media uploading directories.

Here, we have listed some benefits you can get from installing the WordPress multisite.
  • You cat set up as many websites as you want via the single installation of WordPress core.
  • The installation and update of the multisite network is not more complicated than that of the single WordPress.
  • You can save a lot of server spaces as all the themes and plugins used by the multisite network are stored just for once.
  • You can have plenty of sub-domains and sub-directories.
  • You can assign different users as the site admins of each website.
  • You are the super admin so you can set up anything for all the websites on the network. But the site admins of these websites do not have the power.

However, as every coin has two sides, the WordPress multisite feature also has some drawbacks you need to mention.
  • All the websites on the network share the same server sources. In this case, if the core site is down, others go down as well.
  • If one of these sites is hacked, others also get hacked.
  • For new users, managing the whole network may not be an easy task. Especially, managing the system resources during the traffic spikes may need the help from some advanced users.
  • Some plugins may fail to work well for all the network websites.

WordPress Multisite

Differences Between Standard WordPress and Multisite

Actually, there are three main differences between the standard WordPress core and the WordPress multisite.
  • The wp-config.php file and the wp-uploads folder. As compared with the standard WordPress, the wp-config.php file of the multisite network has some extra lines of code to activate the network. And the wp-uploads folder has a sub-folder for each website on the network. Each site folder has its own numerical ID, and the files uploaded on each site will be stored to the corresponding folder.
  • The database tables. With the standard WordPress installation, you will have 11 database tables to sort the content and settings of your site. With the multisite network, however, nine of them will be duplicated.
  • The admin panel. When installing the multisite network, you can find some extra screens added into your admin panel. As the Super Admin, you can access all the added screens to manage different websites. And also, you have the permission to install the themes and plugins. The site admin of other sites accessing every part is similar to that of the standard admin. However, the Themes part and the Plugins part might be missing. They cannot install the new items, but can activate the already installed ones.

WordPress Multisite Admin

Who Need the WordPress Multisite Feature

It is possible that you want to set up and run a lot of websites in one time. This does not mean that the WordPress multisite feature is necessary for you. This feature is especially useful for business platforms, news sites, magazines sites and many others having multiple sections, departments or categories. Here, we have listed some common situations when using this feature.
  • A magazine or a news website that is managed by multiple teams for different sections.
  • A large website that has multiple branches.
  • A government site that has different departments.
  • A non-profit site that is handled based on different locations and regions.
  • A blog site that has multiple sub-domains.
  • A large online platform that allows multiple client sites.

Cases When Not to Use WordPress Multisite

Actually, if you are in the following cases, you'd better not to enable the multisite feature.
  • You want to create multiple client sites, but each of which must be hosted separately.
  • Each website should have its own database, IP address, themes and plugins.
  • You do not have the access to the files on your web server for editing.
  • Your hosting solution does not allow you to run a multisite network.

More detailed information about WordPress multisite network can be found from this post.

Precautions of Installing WordPress Multisite

As all the websites on the multisite network will use the same server resources, you have to select the quality WordPress hosting solutions.

As for the hosting type, if you only plan to set up a couple of websites with the low traffic, the quality web hosting can be enough. However, if you are looking to set up a relatively large multisite network, the VPS or even the dedicated hosting can be the right choices.

In addition, if you install the multisite in your WordPress installation for the first time, you'd better do this in a testing environment before enabling in a live site. If you do not want to do so, you at least need to make a backup of your WordPress site to prevent any unexpected situations.

Install WordPress Multisite

To install WordPress multisite, you just need to open up your wp-config.php file and find the line that says “That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging”. Just above that line, you should add the below line of coding stuff.

Install WordPress Multisite

After saving the changes and uploading the updated file using your FTP client, you can find a new option in the Tools part of your WordPress admin - Network Setup. Just click it.

Now, you should decide whether you'd like to use the sub-domains or the sub-directories for your multisite activation. Note that this setting cannot be changed later.

Also, you should enter the network details, including the server address, network title and the admin email address.

WordPress Multisite Setup

Next, you should click the Install button. And WordPress will provide some lines of code that you should copy and paste into your wp-config.php file and the .htaccess file respectively. You can find them using the FTP client from the WordPress root directory.

Install WordPress Multisite

Now, you can enter the dashboard one more time. Here, you can find the multisite network menu from the top of the admin bar.

WordPress Multisite Admin

Configure the Network Sub-domain Settings

Here, there is a tip that if you decide to use the sub-domain on the multisite network, you need a Wildcare DNS record in advance. For this, you need to enter the control panel offered by your web host. Here, we take cPanel as an example.
  • Click the Subdomains icon from the Domains section.
  • Enter “*” into the sub-domain field and choose the main domain from the dropdown list.
  • Point the document root to /public_html/, which is the directory you install the WordPress core.
  • Click the Create button.

Set Up WordPress Multisite

Now, you can move to the WordPress admin. Here, you should click the My Sites menu and hit the Dashboard. From this screen, you can add or delete the new sites and new users as you want.

WordPress Multisite Admin

In addition, to set up the multisite network, you need to click the Settings > Network Settings button. From this part, you can decide the following settings parts.
  • Operating settings - decide the network title and the network admin email to receive the notifications.
  • Registration settings - allow the new registration based on certain conditions, enable the registration notification, enter the banned names and many more.
  • New site setting - enter the welcome email content for users and site admins entering the multisite network for the first time.
  • Upload settings - decide the permitted file types and the max file sizes.
  • Menu settings - activate or deactivate the plugin menu for site admins.

WordPress Multisite Settings

Add New Site, New Users, New Themes and New Plugins

Actually, to add these new items, you only need to click the My Sites > Network Admin button. And then, you can find your target items from the dropdown list.

New Site

From the Add New Site screen, you should enter the site address. Note that you only need to enter the part that you want to use as the sub-directory or the sub-domain. And then, you should enter the site title, choose the language and provide the email address to receive the account information.

New WordPress Multisite

Note that after adding this site, you can also add the users and assign with different user roles. And also, form the Themes tab, you can activate the installed themes for the new site.

New User

Actually, you can add the users for the specific sites via the Users tab of the Sites admin panel. Or, you can do this via the Users screen of the main admin panel directly. Note that the whole process works the same way as that of the standalone WordPress website.

New Themes And Plugins

The installation of the new themes and new plugins can only be done by you. You can do this as you do to the common WordPress site. After that, you can enable them for different sites. Also, the site admins have the power to do so from the Site settings screen.