What Is WordPress Multisite? A Complete Guide To ‘Multi User WordPress’ Feature

wordpress multiuser

Multiuser WordPress’ feature or simply said WordPress Multisite, is an incredible feature that allows you to use a single WordPress installation for running multiple websites.

In simpler words, WordPress multisite is a kind of WordPress installation where you can create and manage a network of websites from a single WordPress dashboard.

While it is quite easier to understand what it means, people are often confused about how to leverage WordPress multisite and what it is all about.

Here’s a definitive guide on how WordPress Multisite works to clear up your head on the questions like how to install WordPress multisite and who needs it.

Let’s begin with What WordPress Multisite is.

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What Is WordPress Multisite?

Launched back with WordPress 3.0, WordPress multisite is nothing new. It is a network of websites that share the same WordPress core installation.

While these websites can use the same themes or plugins due to their presence on the same server, their media upload directories are always separate and you cannot access the media on one website from another in the network.

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A great example of Multisite feature usage is the Harvard Blog. Anyone with the harvard.edu email can create their own personal blog on this network; however, the entire multisite network comes under a super admin who can make sitewide changes like installing plugins and themes, etc.

Now that you know what WordPress multisite is, here’s why you need to leverage it.

Why Do You Need WordPress Multisite? (Pros of Using WordPress Multisite)

  1. Using WordPress multisite is quite beneficial for those who’re running different sites under a parent domain. An example would be Ecommerce websites where multiple sites are managed by different teams for different countries.
  2. Themes and plugins could be downloaded and activated on all the websites on network with a single download.
  3. Updates could easily be managed with a single master installation for all websites.

While there are quite a few major benefits of having WordPress Multisite, there are some downsides to it as well that you need to consider. Here they are.

What’s The Catch? (Cons of Using WordPress Multisite)

  1. Since all the websites are running with the same network resources, every website would go down if the network goes down.
  2. Since this network of websites operates on the same server, a sudden spike on one website may affect the performance of every website in the network.
  3. Every hosting provider and plan does not have the support for multisite hosting.
  4. Even if one of the websites in-network is hacked, the security of others will be compromised.
  5. There are multiple WordPress plugins that do not come with multisite support.

Now that you know what are the pros and cons of using the WordPress multisite feature, let’s move down to some technical requirements for setting it up.

What Are the Requirements For WordPress Multisite?

1. A Robust Hosting Plan

Owing to the nature of the Multisite network, it is no surprise that you need to have a robust hosting plan to handle it.  A great option here is to go for VPS (Virtual Private Server). However, if you’ve got fewer sites with lower traffic, even shared hosting would work.

Note that a spike in your traffic may cause the server to go down, therefore, spending a bit extra on a private server is still a better way to host your Multisite network.

2. WordPress Backup And Plugins Deactivation

You’ll have to install WordPress on your system. If you already have WordPress installed, then you’ll have to create a backup for it and deactivate all the plugins on your website.

3. Access To Your FTP (Files Transfer Protocol)

You need to make sure that you have access to your website’s FTP as you’ll need to edit some files in it.

How To Setup WordPress Multisite?

Step#1. Allow Multisite For Your WordPress

The first step towards setting up WordPress multisite is to allow multisite in the wp-config.php file. Doing so would enable the network setup menu. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Access your client FTP or cPanel and open up the wp-config.php file.
  2. Now add the following line of code above ‘/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */’.

/* Multisite */

define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true );

  1. Now click on the Save button and upload this file to the server.

Step#2. Setup A Multisite Network

To set up a multisite network

  1. Log into your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Go to the Plugins menu and click on the Installed plugins option.
  3. Navigate to All plugins and click on the Bulk action dropdown menu.
  4. select the Deactivate option and click on Apply.
  5. the next step is to go to the Tools in the dashboard and click on the Network setup.
  6. In the Network setup, choose the domain structure for websites on your network. There are two categories for that – subdomains or subdirectories.
  7. Set a title for your multisite network.
  8. Now click on the Install button, and the setup would be completed.

Note that you need to log into your WordPress again in order to access your multisite network.

WordPress Multisite Configuration

Once you’ve set up the WordPress multisite, it’s now time to configure the network settings. To do this, you first need to switch to the Multisite network dashboard. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. In the Admin toolbar, go to the My sites menu and click on the Network admin.
  2. now click on the Dashboard option and go to the Multisite network dashboard.
  3. Click on the Settings option in the sidebar, here you’ll see your website’s title and the admin’s email address. Check if these are correct and then move on to the following configuration settings.

Registration Settings

Registration settings technically allow you to open your website to user registration and allow existing users to create new websites on your network.

Whenever a new website or user gets registered to your network, you receive a notification in the registration Notification box.

New Website Settings

This is the menu where you can tweak and configure the default settings such as the welcome emails and comments for every new website that is registered on your multisite network.

Upload Settings

These are the settings where you can limit the amount of storage that each website on your multisite network can use for uploads. This way you can easily manage the distribution of server resources. Note that the default upload storage is 100MB.

Menu Settings

Menu settings allow you to enable the administrative menu for the plugins section of your network’s websites.

Once you enable these settings, users will be able to activate and deactivate plugins, but won’t be able to add new ones.

How To Setup Themes And Plugins On WordPress Multisite

Since individual admins can’t set up themes and plugins for their websites, you’ll need to set them up on the Multisite network.

Here’s what you need to do.

For Themes

Go to My site, look for Network admin and click on the themes.

On this page, you will see a list of the themes currently installed. Use the following settings to make your desired changes.

Network Enable: Make the theme available to website administrators.

Network Disable: Disable a theme that you have previously made available.

Add New: Install a new theme on your network.

For Plugins

Go to My site, look for Network admin and click on the Plugins.

Now click on the Network Activate below each plugin to add them to your network.

To Wrap Up

While WordPress multisite comes with quite a lot of advantages that you can leverage to manage multiple sites on a single platform, it has its own disadvantages that you need to keep in mind.

Hopefully, you now have enough knowledge on installing, troubleshooting, and working with applications on a Multisite network to take the plunge. If you’ve found this read useful, also read our other guides on WordPress topics like Fixing Error 1020: Access Denied and Fixing the 405 Method Not Allowed Error to raise your knowledge on the subject.