What is WordPress Multisite?

What any person who is using WordPress knows by now is that this platform is as simple and straightforward as it gets. This is precisely one of the reasons why WordPress is one of the most used platforms in this day and age. That being said, a lot of people don’t even know about the Multisite feature WordPress offers. What is WordPress Multisite? When do you use it? How do you put it into motion? These and many other questions will be answered today!

So, what is WordPress Multisite?

Essentially, WordPress Multisite is a feature that enables you to run multiple websites from a single WordPress installation. Judging by the name, we guess you might have been able to predict as much. But if you are a beginner who is just learning how to use WordPress, that’s as much as you can tell about this feature. What you probably don’t know is that, unlike many other features, this one cannot be introduced through a plugin or a theme. It also can’t be turned on in the default settings.

Statistics on a screen.
Following the progress on all of your websites could be too big of a challenge.

Actually, the Multisite feature is built into the WordPress CMS, so it has to be flipped on once you decide you want to harvest all the benefits it can bring. It has been built into the WordPress CMS in June 2010 and it was put into motion with the version 3.0. Before that, this feature went by the name WordPress MU, which had the purpose of creating a network of blogs. That was a brief lesson in history, but let’s once again return to the present moment.

Once you decide you want to create multiple websites, the WordPress Multisite option will be a natural choice. Considering the fact that it functions very similarly to the rest of WordPress, you shouldn’t have too many problems learning your way around it. Just because this feature is somewhat simple to use and widely available doesn’t mean that we all need it. Sometimes you would just be complicating your life without any need if you activate this feature. For that reason alone, before taking any other action, the first thing you should do is take a step back and assess whether you can benefit from WordPress Multisite or you could put another tool to better use.

Should you be using WordPress Multisite?

While this feature is a great time-saver that helps you easily managed multiple websites, it doesn’t mean that we all need it. In fact, maintaining such a complicated network of different websites could prove to be too much for any person. You need to be consistent in WordPress website monitoring across all of your sites, be timely with file updates, and proactive when fixing performance and security issues. Well, you couldn’t have expected an entire network of websites to bring no trouble, right? That being said, there are many instances where, if you can relate to them, you shouldn’t be using the Multisite feature.

  • If every website requires different WordPress themes and plugins.
  • In case you need to use some plugins which are not compatible with Multisite.
  • When you can’t afford hosting that’s necessary to support so many websites on a hosting plan.
  • If you have too many different clients.
  • When all of the websites you are creating are completely unrelated to each other and belong to different brands/industries.
  • When your clients want to have a website with a separate hosting account and IP address.
A woman chewing a pen and wondering what is WordPress Multisite.
You are not up for any additional stress? Think about the added responsibility of managing multiple websites.

Finally, if you feel incompetent or too inexperienced to handle such a massive network of websites, don’t do it. If you also have only two or three websites to manage, we are sure you might be able to find a better solution than Multisite. Even though some of the most successful companies use WordPress Multisite, such as NBC and the New York Times, you have to be realistic.

Activate WordPress Multisite

Okay, so now you know what is WordPress Multisite and you have hopefully figured out whether or not it’s the right feature for you. If you proceeded to read the article, you probably decided that this feature is worth a shot. Now all you have to do is activate it, and the activation happens in five steps.

1. Back up your website

We won’t dwell on this one for too long, because it’s just a mandatory thing to perform website backup when making any changes to your site. As soon as your website backup finishes, you can proceed to step two.

2. Make sure you deactivate all of your plugins

It’s a general recommendation to deactivate all of your plugins before activating Multisite. You will easily be able to activate them once you start using Multisite. Once you deactivate your plugins, make sure to log out of WordPress, as it will be needed for the next step.

3. Make sure you update your wp-config.php file

The first step is going to the root of your website and finding the file in question. Once you open the wp-config.php file, you should search for the line that says ‘That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging.’ Once you find it, add the directive that looks like this:/ * Multisite */ define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true ); Finally, just save the changes you made and you are done with this step.

A cup of coffee and two pencils next to a laptop.
You are two steps away from activating Multisite.

4. Deal with Multisite installation

Do you see the ‘Network Setup’ option under Tools? Feel free to click on it. And now comes the fun part! You’ll have to assign the super admin title to a person and come up with a name for your network of websites. If you feel like you are satisfied with the data you input here, click install and move on to the fifth and final step.

5. The last step is the most complicated one – enabling the network

For the last time, open the wp-config.php file where, under WordPress’ instructions, you are supposed to paste an appropriate snippet. Look up these instructions, follow them, save your changes and close. Now locate the .htaccess file. Usually, these files are hidden, which is why you’ll want to make sure you reveal all the hidden files in the file manager. Once you access this file, you should look for a line that looks like this – RewriteEngine On. Instead of this line, you need to replace it with a corresponding snippet that’s in accordance with the WordPress instructions.

Once you save the changes and log into WordPress once again, you can feel free to mark the activation as a success. You now know what is WordPress Multisite, whether you should use it, as well as how to activate it. Now all that’s left to do is manage your network of websites with success. But we’ll leave that up to you!

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