Hosting Tutorial & Guide

What Is WordPress Multisite? Do You Really Need It?

updated on Sep 28, 2015
What Is WordPress Multisite? Do You Really Need It? WordPress multisite was once a separate version of WordPress named WordPress MU, but it was merged with the standard package as a new feature in WordPress 3.0. With years passing by, you may still be confused about this feature and hesitate at whether to use it. That's why we make this tutorial.

In below, we'd like to explain WordPress multisite in detail, and provide suggestions about when you should use it and when not.

What Is WordPress Multisite?

Multisite is a feature which allows you to create and manage a network of WordPress sites with a single WordPress installation. The sites in the network do not own a separate directory on the server, and instead, they use the same set of core files. They can share the themes and plugins, but you can still activate different themes and plugins for each individual site.

With multisite, you can:
  • Create a network like in which end users can create their own websites.
  • Create a network in which only the administrator (you) is able to create new websites.
Typically, as all sites in the same network share one WordPress installation, they also share the same domain. Sites can be configured in two ways: to use sub-domains like or to use subdirectories like

However, you can also use domain mapping plugins to map a site to a separate domain. For example, you can map to to allow visitors to access the site with a unique domain.

Using multisite brings much convenience for managing multiple WordPress sites. Below are some of the obvious benefits.
  • The installation is simple, just the same as a standard WordPress installation.
  • Updating multisite is as easy as any WordPress update you have made before.
  • Themes and plugins are stored once even if you use them on multiple different sites, which saves the disk space.

Differences Between Multisite and a Standard WordPress Installation

A significant difference is the WordPress dashboard. When multisite is activated, some screens are added to the default WordPress dashboard so that you can manage the network. These extra screens are only accessible to the Super Admin who can manage the network.

Multisite Admin

For the admins of each individual site, they will get a dashboard which is similar to that of a standard WordPress installation, except that they do not have access to install or update the themes and plugins.

The server-side management of multisite and a single WordPress installation is nearly the same, but small differences still exist.
  • The wp-config.php file of multisite includes some extra lines which are used to activate multisite.
  • Each site in a multisite network has a separate sub-directory in the wp-uploads directory for media uploads.
  • Each site has its own tables in the database.

When to Use WordPress Multisite?

Multisite is powerful with many applications, but we'd suggest you to use it only when you are in one the following circumstances.
  • Building a network like which allows clients to add their sites either for free or paid.
  • Requiring a network for the management of a large news, magazine or organization website with a lot of categories independent from each other. For example, a learning website may need a multisite network to allow teachers to create their blogs to share ideas and courses.
  • You are a developer or an agency administering a network of websites for multiple clients.

When Not to Use WordPress Multisite?

While multisite is useful, it is not suitable for everyone, even if you need to manage multiple websites at the same time. It has its own limitations, too. If you are covered in one of the following cases, you should stick with single WordPress sites instead of multisite.
  • You want to maintain a single personal blog (even with multiple categories and different authors).
  • You want each website to use its own IP address.
  • The site admins need to install themes and plugins independently.
  • You will host the clients' websites separately – on different accounts or servers.
  • Your websites need their own databases.
If you have decided to use multisite, you can refer to this tutorial for enabling and configuring WordPress multisite network.