What is WordPress Multisite

Over 43% of all websites on the Internet are run by WordPress, making it one of the most widely used and well-known Content Management Systems. The free blog you can build with the renowned five-minute setup is just the beginning of the level of features and versatility it offers. WordPress Multisite is a feature of WordPress that has great benefits. With WordPress Multisite, you can turn your single WordPress installation into a network where you can set up and administer as many sites as you need to promote brands or cater to the demands of different users.

Converting your WordPress installation to a multisite is something to consider seriously if your site is more than a single-subject blog. You can convert a brand-new site or one you’ve been working on for a while. You only need WordPress installed in order to set up WordPress Multisite.

With a multisite feature of WordPress, you can manage a group of sites from a single admin screen. With this setup, you can easily manage and keep many websites up-to-date from a single location.

WordPress 3.0 saw the debut of the Multisite functionality, which has been active ever since.

This article will walk you through the main benefits of WordPress Multisite and how to use it.

Without waiting more time, let’s dive in

What is WordPress Multisite

Multisite is a feature of WordPress that allows you to run numerous sites under the same WordPress installation on your server. Simply put, you’ll be able to manage several WordPress sites from a single dashboard.

Since it allows users to set up a network of subdomains or subdirectories, WordPress Multisite is a well-liked option for organisations that manage several websites. Multisite allows educational institutions to construct many websites for various departments easily. In the same way, a corporation can make websites for each of its branches or offices.

For illustration, a website with the root domain mysite.com might also employ subdomains like site1.mysite.com and site2.mysite.com. To organize your content, a different option is to use subdirectories, such as mysite.com/site1 and mysite.com/site2.

With the release of WordPress version 3.0 in 2010, Multisite was introduced to the public. Since its first release, it has gained a reputation as an indispensable tool many WordPress administrators employ to manage networks containing tens, hundreds, or even thousands of websites.

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Key Aspects of WordPress Multisite

User Roles and Permissions

WordPress sites typically have five predefined user roles. These positions are listed from highest to lowest authority:

  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Viewer
  • Subscriber

With a multisite setup, an additional position exists above that of administrator: the super administrator. This position is sometimes referred to as a network administrator or a super admin.

What is Super Admin

The term “Super Admin” refers to a user role in WordPress that has complete control over all of the sites in a Multisite network. If you’re using WordPress Multisite, this is the greatest level of access a user can have.

All material on all of your sites may be added, edited, or removed by Super Admins, and they can also establish new websites, manage themes and plugins, add users and remove users, and more. They can do everything.

Domain Mapping

It is possible to link WordPress multisite subsites to a non-network top-level domain. This indicates that a site created as subsite1.networkdomain.com can be mapped to domain.com. This also applies to subdirectory sites, so networkdomain.com/subsite1 can likewise be accessed via domain.com. Before setting up domain mapping, ensure that your network is properly configured and that subsites may be built without trouble.

Before WordPress 4.5, domain mapping necessitates a plugin such as WordPress MU Domain Mapping.

In WordPress versions 4.5 and later, domain mapping is a native feature.

How WordPress Multisite Works

All sites under a WordPress multisite installation share the same WordPress core, themes, and plugins. But they can have their own themes and plugins if needed. The network settings of every plugin and theme will affect all subsites that use them.

The “My sites” section of the dashboard is where you can manage your multisite network. With Multisite, a new user role is created:  Super admin, who can manage all of the sites in the network.

The Super admin manages the access rights of standard admins for individual sites. Standard admins can only activate the plugins and themes that have already been deployed throughout the network; they cannot add new ones.

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Benefits of WordPress Multisite

Accessing Multiple Sites from a Single Location

Having quick access to many sites is convenient. Authors and site admins only need to remember one username and password to access all of their sites through a single drop-down menu in the WordPress admin panel.

Shared Plugins

Access to shared plugins is another significant advantage of using a multisite installation. Once enabled, multisite allows you to install plugins across all of your websites at once, or you can select to install them one at a time according to your specific requirements. Network-activated plugins are immediately applied to all sites in your multisite network.

To top it all, whenever you update a plugin from the Network Admin Dashboard then the updated plugin is automatically pushed out to all of your sites. This saves a significant amount of time.

Shared Themes

If you want to change the theme of the main site and subsites, you may do it all at once by using the share feature. Because of Multisite, the hosting account can share themes and plugins with all the other sites in the network, making managing themes and plugins significantly simpler. 

Shared Users

When you create several WordPress installations, one of the things that can be a source of aggravation is the creation of duplicate users across each site.

However, if you use Multisite, you can centrally manage users and grant them access to several sites across the network, making this task far simpler. Users can be granted access to a single site, several sites, or all of them with relative ease. Additionally, you can also grant different permission levels with much ease.

It is very Cheap

Hosting hundreds or thousands of websites under one account is not only handy but also cost-effective, especially for commercial websites with visitors worldwide.

Shared code base

Because the code and configuration for the sites are shared, developers do not have to bother about coding separate sites individually if there are updates or other similar adjustments that need to be made across the network. This frees them up to focus on other aspects of the project.

Streamlined updates

WordPress provides timely updates for the Multisite feature. It is possible to install all of the latest updates onto the primary site and then standardise their implementation throughout all of the subsites. This means that web developers do not need to stay up all night to personally install essential updates to thousands of subsites, which frees up a lot of time for them.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Multisite is an excellent option for managing several different sites under a single URL, and it’s only improving as new updates are released.

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Cons of WordPress Multisite


Setting up and managing a WordPress Multisite network can be more complex than managing a single site. This can be especially true for users unfamiliar with the WordPress platform.

Limited scalability

While a WordPress Multisite network can be a good solution for managing a small number of websites, it may not be as suitable for managing a very large number of sites. This is because the network performance may begin to suffer as the number of sites increases. But it depends mainly on management because if we see WordPress.com, then it uses the Multisite feature and it hosts millions of websites, so scalability is not a real concern with Multsite functionality.

Centralized Platform

The use of centralised platforms has some pitfalls too.

Any user or person who has access to the subsites will not be able to install or uninstall any theme or plugin if he is not a Super Admin. He can only make small, controlled changes.

Only the super admin has the power to install and remove plugins, giving them a great deal of control and authority over the network.

Security Issue

If one of your websites is compromised by a hacking attack, there is a good probability that all of your websites will be vulnerable to the attack.

Theme and Plugins Compatibility

One should verify the plugins’ compatibility with multisite before installation. Certain plugins can cause issues and interfere with the normal operation when used in a multisite network.

The WordPress themes are the same.

Before you can set up a WordPress multisite, you’ll need to find a compatible theme. Several modifications will need to be made to make the custom-built theme compatible with multisite.

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Limited choice of hosting providers

Not all hosting providers support WordPress Multisite.

Resource Sharing Issue

Any disruption to the network will affect all of the websites because they are dependent on the same network.

Moreover, if one site in the network receives greater traffic and consumes more resources, it will affect the other sites on the network.

When To Use A WordPress Multisite and when not to

WordPress Multisite can be a useful tool for managing a small number of related websites, but it may not be the best solution for everyone.

Here are some scenarios where you might consider using WordPress Multisite

You want to manage multiple websites from a single dashboard: WordPress Multisite allows you to manage multiple websites from a single dashboard, which can be convenient if you need to update or change multiple sites at once.

You want to share users, themes, and plugins among multiple sites: With WordPress Multisite, you can share users, themes, and plugins among all of the sites in your network. This can be useful if you have a group of related sites that need to share certain features.

You want to create a network of sites with a single WordPress installation: If you want to create a network of sites with a single WordPress installation, WordPress Multisite can be a good solution. This can be useful if you want to save resources by only having to maintain a single installation rather than multiple separate installations.

Here are some scenarios where you might not want to use WordPress Multisite

You only need to manage a single website: If you only need to manage a single website, WordPress Multisite may not be necessary. Using a single WordPress installation for a single site can be more straightforward.

You need to manage a very large number of sites: While WordPress Multisite can be a good solution for managing a small number of sites, it may not be as suitable for managing a very large number of sites. This is because the network performance may begin to suffer as the number of sites increases.

You need a high level of customization for each site: WordPress Multisite allows you to customize each site in your network, but you may have fewer options when it comes to customizing your sites compared to using a separate WordPress installation for each site.

You need to keep sites completely separate: If you need to keep sites completely separate, with no shared users, themes, or plugins, WordPress Multisite may not be the best solution. In this case, it may be better to use separate WordPress installations for each site.

Overall, whether or not WordPress Multisite is the right solution for you will depend on your specific needs and goals. It can be a useful tool for managing a small number of related websites, but it may not be the best solution for everyone.

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To install WordPress Multisite, you will need to meet the following requirements:

A web hosting account: You will need a web hosting account that supports WordPress Multisite. Most web hosting providers that offer WordPress hosting will support Multisite, but you should check with your provider to make sure.

A domain name: You will need a domain name for your Multisite network. This can be a new domain you purchase specifically for your Multisite network, or it can be an existing domain you want to use for your network.

WordPress: You will need to have WordPress installed on your hosting server. If you don’t already have WordPress installed, you can download it from wordpress.org and follow the instructions for installing it on your server.

FTP Access: Ensure you can access WordPress through FTP.

SSL certificate: You should use an SSL certificate for your Multisite network to ensure your site is secure. An SSL certificate encrypts the data transmitted between your server and visitors’ browsers, which can help to protect your site from hackers. Most web hosting providers offer SSL certificates, or you can purchase one from a third-party provider.

Once you have these requirements in place, you can proceed with the process of setting up your WordPress Multisite network.

Things to keep in mind before switching to WordPress Multisite

Switching to a WordPress Multisite network can be a complex process, so it’s important to be well-prepared before making the switch. Here are some things to consider when preparing to switch to a WordPress Multisite network:

  • Backup your existing site: Before making any changes to your website, creating a backup of all your files and data is important. This will ensure that you can revert to your original site if something goes wrong during switching to a Multisite network.
  • Plan your network structure: Think about how you want your network to be structured. Will you use subdomains or subdirectories for your sites? How will you organize your sites within the network? Consider creating a diagram or a map of your planned network structure.
  • Review your current plugins and themes: Before switching to a Multisite network, check which plugins and themes are activated on your existing site. Some plugins and themes may not be compatible with Multisite and must be replaced.
  • Test the process: Before making the switch, it’s a good idea to test it on a staging site first. This will help you identify potential issues and ensure everything works as expected.
  • Inform your users: Let your users know that you are planning to switch to a Multisite network and inform them of the changes they can expect.
  • Have the plan to migrate your data: Think about how you’ll move your data from your current installation to the Multisite network. Consider using WordPress-specific tools like WP Migrate DB or All-in-One WP Migration.
  • Review your SEO: Multisite networks have their own set of SEO concerns, and it’s important to understand the effect it might have on your current SEO, such as how URLs are structured, how your content will be indexed, etc.

WordPress Multisite Setup and Activation

You’ll need access to the files in your WordPress installation. Access your files through FTP client and modify them with a text editor. You will modify two files in your WordPress installation’s base folder: .htaccess and wp-config.php. Before you begin, be sure to create backups of both of those.

To get going, fire up your preferred code editor and go to the wp-config.php file. You can find this line in that file:

/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */

Put this line of code just above it:

define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true );

You should then save the file and restart your browser.

After you have added the code to wp-config.php, you will see that the WordPress dashboard displays a new set of options.

Proceed to Tools > Network Setup within your dashboard. Choose whether to refer to your subsites as a subdomain or a subdirectory on this screen.

You can also change your network’s server address, network name, and admin email address.

Click the Install button when you are satisfied with everything on this screen.

After that, you will be brought to the Network Setup Screen

Now you need to do is go into your wp-config.php and .htaccess files and paste some code that will be provided to you by WordPress.

Open your wp-config.php and .htaccess files, copy and paste the code given by WordPress.

Remember to save both of these files.

To log into your network, click the link on the Network Setup screen. Use the same login credentials as before.

You will now notice that your admin screen has changed somewhat. My Sites and Network Admin will be added to the toolbar at the top of the page.

When you hover your mouse over the My Sites link, a new menu will appear that leads to the network administration panels. To access the network dashboard, click the link labelled Dashboard.

A new item titled Sites will be added to the admin menu, granting you access to site creation and management.

Now you have Multisite activated, feel free to explore it and discover its features.

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Examples of WordPress Multisite


WordPress.com is the premier example of a user-driven network of blogs, where individuals may register for their unique WordPress blog without having to bother about the technical details.

More than 409 million users access more than 15.5 billion pages monthly, and Multisite is the driving force behind it all.

John Carroll University

When it comes to WordPress Multisite implementations, John Carroll University is a model. Multisite is used to manage a set of related websites that may be accessed and modified by different people in the organisation (administrators, teachers, and students, respectively) according to their roles. This allows them to set up user access without needing a slew of administrators or additional plugins.

Harvard Blogs

Harvard Blogs utilises WP Multisite so students with harvard.edu, radcliffe.edu, or hbs.edu email addresses can create their blogs.

The Wall Street Journal

This highly regarded journal relies on WordPress for several of its online properties, such as its video site, podcast website, and language-specific domains, all of which employ the multisite feature to facilitate content sharing across multiple microsites.


WordPress Multisite is a powerful feature that can be a great option for managing multiple websites from one central location. It allows you to share users, themes, and plugins across all of your sites and provides a separate network administration area where network administrators can manage the entire network.

However, it’s important to remember that WordPress Multisite is not for everyone and requires a deeper understanding of how WordPress works and how to configure it properly. It’s intended for advanced users and developers who can take advantage of its added flexibility and scalability.

Before deciding to use WordPress Multisite, consider your specific use and make sure it aligns with the features and capabilities that Multisite provides. A single WordPress installation is all you need to run a simple blog or website. In any case, Multisite is a great tool for those who plan to use it, and it will help them to manage their websites efficiently and effectively.

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