The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Multisite

Here at WPMU DEV, we’re more than a bit keen on WordPress Multisite.

We’ve been developing plugins for it since the old days when it was WordPress MU, and we use it to power Edublogs, a huge network of blogs for educators and students.

Personally I also use Multisite a lot. I use it to host client websites, to create sites demonstrating techniques I outline in my books and tutorials, and to keep everything in one place.

In this guide to Multisite I’m going to show you everything you need to know to get started with Multisite and create your own network of blogs or sites.

I’ll cover:

  • What is Multisite and how is it different from regular WordPress?
  • Uses for Multisite (with some examples)
  • When not to use Multisite
  • How to activate Multisite on a new or existing WordPress installation
  • Creating blogs in your network
  • Managing your network, including installing themes and plugins, creating sites and setting up domain mapping
  • Plugins to make Multisite even better.

But first, let’s get some terminology straight. In this post I’m going to use the word network and site to refer to two different things:

  • Network refers to the entire Multisite network, i.e. your WordPress installation
  • Site refers to one of the blogs or sites created as part of the network.

So when I refer to your site, I don’t mean your whole network of sites, but just one of the sites on it. Each network will have a main site, which is created when you install WordPress and which will probably use the main domain for your WordPress installation: that’s still a site. I’ll explain this in more detail as we go along.

So now we’ve got that sorted, let’s take a look at Multisite!

What is Multisite?

The Codex defines WordPress Multisite as:

“A feature of WordPress 3.0 and later versions that allows multiple virtual sites to share a single WordPress installation.”

This means that by installing WordPress just once on your server, you can run as many sites as you want, and I really mean as many as you want. At the time of writing, hosts approximately 37 million sites, and our own hosts nearly 3 million educational sites. You won’t be able to host millions of sites on a standard Multisite installation though – later in this post I’ll cover some plugins and techniques you can use to host large numbers of sites.

The great thing about Multisite is that the WordPress installation itself is almost exactly the same as a standard installation: it has the same folder structure, the same core files and the same code base. This means that installing a Multisite network isn’t much more complicated than installing a standard WordPress site, and updating Multisite is exactly the same as updating any WordPress site. All of your network’s themes and plugins are stored just once, no matter how many sites you use them on, meaning you’ll be using a lot less server space than if you used a separate WordPress installation for each site.

But there are some differences in three areas: in the admin screens and the way you use them, in the files in your WordPress installation, and in the database tables.

How the Multisite Admin Screens Are Different

When you activate Multisite, some extra screens will be added to your admin, for managing the network. You can see below the there’s a special dashboard for managing the network.

These are accessible only to the Super Admin who manages the network (that’s you) and will let you install themes and plugins and create and manage sites. I’ll take you through these in more detail later in this post.

The admin screens that each site admin can access are similar to a standard WordPress site, but a couple are missing: site admins can’t install themes or plugins but can only activate those that have been installed on the network.

But apart from that, the screens will be very familiar to anyone who has used WordPress.

How the Multisite Files Are Different

There are just two differences to the files and folders in a Multisite network: the wp-config.php file and the wp-uploads folder.

The wp-config.php file will have some extra lines added which activate Multisite and tell WordPress how it’s running. The wp-uploads folder will contain a subfolder for each site on the network, with the site’s numerical ID as its name. Files uploaded to each site are stored in that site’s folder, in the same structure as you would normally expect to see them in the wp-uploads folder in a standard WordPress installation.

But the good news is that WordPress manages the file structure for you, so you don’t need to worry about it!

How the Database is Different with Multisite

The final difference is one you really don’t have to worry about unless you’re into that sort of thing: the database tables. The database for a standard WordPress installation will have 11 database tables for storing your site’s content and settings. With a Multisite network, nine of these are duplicated for each site, meaning that if you’ve got a lot of sites, you’ll have a lot of tables. This keeps the content for each site separate.

Again this is something that goes on behind the scenes and which you should never need to worry about.

Uses for Multisite

Multisite has a lot of applications, but I like to think of them as coming under three categories:

  • A privately run network of sites or blogs for an individual or business
  • A network of client sites installed and administered by a developer or agency
  • A network which people can add their own sites to, either for free or by paying a subscription.

I have my own network of personal sites on my blog. I use this to create sites to demonstrate techniques I write about in my books and tutorials, and to try out new ideas. You might want to create a network to host your own personal sites if you have more than one, and with domain mapping plugins you can even use a different domain name for each site.

Businesses also use Multisite to host multiple sites which they administer and manage themselves: an example is BBC America, which uses Multisite to host its network of blogs.


I also manage a network of client sites for my agency, Compass Design. I moved all of my client sites to Multisite a year or so ago after years of keeping them all separate. It means that when I need to update WordPress (or a theme or plugin) I only have to do it once, and I have one place from which to manage all of my client sites. I use domain mapping so each client can have their own domain, and give them admin access for their own sites if they need it (which not all do). The benefit of this is that it means your site admins have more capabilities than an editor would on a standard site but can’t install themes and plugins which might break their site or your network.

There are also plenty of examples of Multisite networks which let people create their own site. The biggest,, hosts millions of sites and is free to use, with premium themes and plugins available at a cost.


Our own Edublogs enables schools and educators to create a blog, and powers million of sites using one Multisite Network. Users create a blog for free, with the option to move to a Pro account with extra features.


When Not to Use Multisite

Although Multisite is great (yes it is!) and has plenty of uses, it’s not always going to be the tool that you need. Here are some examples of when you don’t need Multisite:

  • You want to create a single site or blog and don’t plan to create any more in future.
  • You’re creating sites for multiple clients but each will be hosted separately, maybe with clients having their own hosting providers.
  • Each site you’re creating will need its own separate database (maybe for security reasons).
  • Each site will need its own IP address.
  • Site administrators will need to install their own themes or plugins.
  • You’ll need to move your sites to another server (that this can be done but is more involved than  for a standard site, and can be avoided completely if all you need is separate domains).
  • Your hosting doesn’t provide the necessary server requirements.
  • You don’t have access to the files on your server for editing.

If one of the above applies to you, I would recommend sticking with a single site WordPress installation. If you do need a network but your hosting setup prevents you from doing so, I’d recommend switching providers!

Activating Multisite

Now that you know what Multisite is and how it can benefit you, it’s time to learn how to activate it. How you do this will depend on whether your site is a brand new one or an established one. It will also depend on whether you want to use subdomains or subdirectories for your network’s sites:

  • Using subdomains means that each site will have a url like If you’re planning to let people create their own site, you’ll need to have wild card subdomains activated for your hosting.
  • Using subdirectories means that each site will have a url like You can’t choose this option on an established site that you’re converting to a network as it may cause clashes with urls already created in your site.

Let’s start by activating Multisite in a brand new installation.

Activating Multisite on a Fresh WordPress Installation

Activating Multisite when you install WordPress involves a few extra steps. Firstly, you need to install WordPress and allowing a network.

  1. Install WordPress in the normal way. Download WordPress and use the ‘famous 5 minute install’ to install it on your server or local machine.
  2. Open your wp-config.php file which you’ll find in the folder where you installed WordPress. Find the line that reads:

  1.  Immediately above that line, create a new line that reads as follows:

  1.  Now save your wp-config.php file.

The next step is to visit the WordPress admin screens and install Multisite.

  1. In the WordPress admin, go to Tools >Network Setup. You’ll be prompted to choose subdomains or subdirectories for your installation: choose the one that works for your network.
  2. Edit the title of your network and email address of the network administrator when prompted, or leave them as they are.
  3. Click the Install button.

The final step is to copy some code provided by WordPress into your wp-config.php and .htaccess files.

  1. You will be taken to the Network Install screen:
  1. Open each of your wp-config.php and .htaccess files and edit them in line with the text provided on the screen. If you can’t find .htaccess on your server, it may because hidden files aren’t visible: change the settings in your code editor if you’re using one to access your files.
  2. Save both files.

WordPress Multisite will now be installed. You’ll need to log in again, and when you do so you’ll see the dashboard:


Now you can start adding sites, plugins, themes and more.

Activating Multisite on an Established WordPress Installation

If you’re converting your existing site to a Multisite network, you follow the same steps as above with one exception: you won’t be given the option to select subdomains or subdirectories. If your site has been in existence for more than a month, you’ll be forced to use subdomains.

Managing Your Network

Now your network is in place and running just one site, which is the man site for the network. This site is no different from the other sites which will be added to your network: it has the same admin screens and the same permissions.

Managing your network will consist of:

  • Creating and managing sites
  • Installing and activating themes
  • Installing and deactivating plugins
  • Installing updates

Let’s start by creating a site.

Creating a Site

You can create sites manually or you can install a plugin that lets users create their own. I’ll cover how you do this with a plugin later, but first, here’s how to create a site manually.

  1.  Go to the network admin screens by clicking on My Sites > Network Admin in the admin menu.
  2. Go to Sites > Add New.
  3. Type in the site address (i.e. the subdomain or subdirectory), the site title and the email address of the site administrator, as shown in the screenshot:

The new site will be created. If you’ve used your own email address for the site admin, you’ll be able to see it when you hover over the My Sites link in the admin menu. If you’re not the administrator, you can still see it from your network admin screens. Click Sites > All Sites to view all of your sites. Below you can see just a selection of the sites in the network I’ve set up on my own domain:


You can also create a new site from the front end of your main site, using a plugin. I’ll look at some plugins for Multisite shortly.

Installing and Activating Themes

Only the super administrator of a network can install themes and make them available for sites to use. You can do this in one of two ways: you can allow them for individual sites or you can network activate them. A theme can only be activated on a site if it’s been network enabled or enabled for that site.

Here’s how you install a theme and network enable it:

  1. In the Network admin screens, go to Themes > Add New and install the theme in the same way as you would for a standard WordPress site.
  2. On the ‘Installing Theme’ screen that appears, click the Network Enable link.

Alternatively, to network enable a theme you’ve already installed, click on Themes to go to the Themes screen, then click the Network Enable link below a theme.

You can also enable a theme just for one site. This can be useful if your network runs lots of sites each of which will need a different theme, for example if you’re hosting client sites. Enabling themes by site means that other themes won’t be available to sites which don’t have them enabled, so there’s no risk of site admins accidentally activating the wrong theme.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. In the Network admin, click on Sites to view all of your sites.
  2. Hover over the name of the site you want to enable the theme for and click the Edit link that appears.
  3. Click the Themes tab to view the themes settings screen for the site:
  1. Under the theme you want to enable, click the Enable link.

Now when you go to the site administration screens for that site and click on Appearance > Themes, you’ll see the theme you’ve enabled included in the available themes for activation:


Installing and Activating Plugins

Plugins also have to be installed by the network administrator, but they work slightly differently with regard to the sites on the network. You can’t enable a plugin for an individual site: instead you can network activate it, so it runs on every site on the network, or you can just install it, so that individual sites can choose to activate it.

Network activating plugins is useful if you’ve written or downloaded a plugin to provide features which you want all of your sites to have, for example on my network of client sites I’ve installed the Snapshot plugin to ensure that all of the sites are backed up regularly. Here’s how to install and network activate a plugin:

  1. In the network admin screens, got to Plugins > Add New and install the plugin as you would in a normal WordPress site.
  2. In the Installing Plugin screen, click the Network Activate link.

That’s it! The plugin will now run on all the sites in your network and site admins won’t be able to disable it.

But what if you want to just activate the plugin on one site? That’s done by installing the plugin as a network admin and then activating the plugin if you have site admin privileges for the site.

  1. In the network admin screens, got to Plugins > Add New and install the plugin as you would in a normal WordPress site.
  2. In the Installing Plugin screen, click the Return to Plugin Installer link.
  3. Visit the site admin screens for the site you want to activate the plugin for and click the Plugins link in the admin menu.
  4. Under the plugin you want to activate, click the Activate link as you would in a normal WordPress site.

You’ll notice that in the Plugins screen for a site admin, there’s only the option to activate or deactivate plugins, not to delete or update them:


Managing Sites

There are other screens you can use to manage the sites on your network, accessible via the Sites screen in the network admin. These are:

  • Info
  • Users
  • Themes
  • Settings

The Info screen contains basic information on the site. This is where you would change the domain for the site if needed, or update its status.

The Users screen lists all of the users for this site, who will also be users on your network. You can use this screen to remove users from a site or to add a user to a site if they’ve already been added to your network (more of which shortly). You can also change user roles from here. Site admins can also add users from the Users section of their own admin as you would for a normal WordPress site: they can add users not already registered on the network as well.

The Settings screen gives you access to all of the settings for the site, some of which site admins have access to via the Settings section of their admin menu. This includes everything in the site’s options table in the database, including the site title, description, theme and more. I would advise against changing any settings you’re not familiar with.

Managing Your Network: Updates, Users and Settings

As well as managing the individual sites in your network, you’ll need to manage the network itself. This will include:

  • Updating WordPress
  • Updating themes and plugins
  • Managing users
  • Customizing the settings.

Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.


Updating themes, plugins and WordPress itself via the network admin screens is straightforward: you’ll see a notification if any of your code needs updating and you simply update it in the same way as you would for a normal site. Updating WordPress is a two step process: you need to install the update and then update the network of sites. This is just a case of clicking a couple of extra links which WordPress will guide you through.


The Users screen works in the same way as for a standard WordPress site: it will list all of the users on your network and let you edit and delete them. This will include users that site admins have added to your site as well as users who’ve signed up for a site.

The one main difference is that the Users screen tells you which sites a user has access to. If you want to add a user to a site, you do so via the Users tab in the site settings.



You use the Network Settings screen to customise the way your network is used:


Settings you can customise are:

  • The title of your network
  • The network admin’s email address
  • Registration settings: whether users can register accounts and/or sites, whether site admins can add new users, and email domains and site names which are banned.
  • New site settings: the content of the welcome email for site admins and users and the first page, post and comment created on new sites.
  • Upload settings: file types permitted and maximum file size
  • Language settings: the default language
  • Menu settings: enable or disable the plugins menu item for site admins. If you disable this they won’t be able to activate or deactivate plugins.

Managing and Maintaining a Huge Network of Sites

The examples I gave above of huge, successful Multisite networks will store vast amounts of data and receive millions of visits across their network every day. Clearly this isn’t something your site can handle if it’s installed on a shared server with a cheap hosting plan, so as your network grows you’ll need to make changes to the way you manage your data and serve up content to accommodate the extra data and traffic.

To learn more about how this is done, see our post about how we scaled Edublogs to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of blogs (at the time of the post) and millions of users.

Plugins That Make Multisite Even Better

Multisite is great as it is, but if you want to get more for it you’ll probably need to install one or more plugins. A plugin will help you do things like allow site registration from the front end, map domains to the sites in your network, and monetise your network.

Here are some of the plugins that are the most invaluable, including some of our best Multisite plugins and some free ones that you can download from the WordPress plugin repository:

  • Domain Mapping


    Our Domain Mapping plugin lets you give each site in your network its own domain name. It also lets you buy and sell domains to your site admins, which can help you monetize your network.

  • Snapshot


    Backing up your network is essential: your site admins won’t thank you if you lose their data! In a recent post I rated Snapshot as the best backup plugin for WordPress, and for Multisite it wins hands-down. It lets you take regular backups of your entire network and restore them quickly and easily. Some other premium backup plugins don’t support Multisite, but this one does.

  • Pro Sites


    Pro Sites lets you convert your network into a profitable business by offering paid upgrades, advertising and more. It provides you with a front end interface people can use to create a site on your network, and lets you limit features for free sites, to encourage your users to upgrade.

  • Support System


    If you want to make it easy for your site admins or users to raise support tickets or see the answers to frequently asked questions, the Support System plugin will help. With it you can add a page in your main site’s front end and in the admin screens where users can raise support tickets and ask questions, and you can manage and respond to those tickets.

  • WordPress MU Domain Mapping

    This free plugin lets you map alternative domains to the sites in your network. Unlike our Domain Mapping plugin it doesn’t let you sell domains to make money from your network, but it’s a free alternative.

  • User Switching


    The User Switching plugin does exactly what it promises: it lets you as network admin switch user accounts so you can see what your users are experiencing when they’re logged in. It can be helpful for troubleshooting or making edits to sites if your users break something!

This is just a few of my favourite plugins for Multisite: more detailed information about our essential Multisite plugins are in this post on the plugins you need to get Multisite up and running.


I hope I’ve convinced you that WordPress Multisite makes WordPress even more powerful. It lets you create more than one site with just the one WordPress installation, helping you to keep all of your own sites in one place or let others create their own sites which you can make money from.

Activating Multisite just takes a few extra steps once you’ve installed WordPress, and managing your network and creating sites in it isn’t complicated. As you’ve seen, the screens do look slightly different but won’t be unfamiliar for anyone with experience of managing a standard WordPress site.

How do you use WordPress Multisite? Have you recently switched from using single site to Multisite? Which plugins make Multisite even better for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

102 Responses


    Hi Rachel, great write up.

    I think what would be an added bonus to this, would be how to setup SSL and allow specific sites within a multisite environment to run over HTTPS.

    Very similar to your walk through above, the ins and outs of SSL in multisite, and the pros and cons. I think the community would jump on that article.

    Again, thanks for the write up!

      Rachel McCollin

      Hi Nicholas, thanks for the feedback and the idea! I’ll look into whether this would be a suitable topic for a future post.


      @Nicholas @Rachel @Brad

      Using SSL/HTTPS with WPMS and Domain Mapping is very possible in a variety of configurations – the actual practice does get pretty complicated, though its not so bad once you get into it as long as you have a clear plan for your project…

      We’re working on some nice tutorials about how to do so and will hopefully get ‘em published soonish :) meantime, you can find some great resources/ideas in the wpmudev forums, and of course also around the web (and at from Ipstenu…

      Cheers, Max


    Quick Question:

    You mentioned that users can be registered on multiple sites in the network. Does this mean they can use one username and password to access multiple sites in which they are registered?

    example: You mentioned using it for agencies to manage client sites. Could you build a landing page that, after logging in, showed a staff user all of the sites they help manage? Could they then click the site they wanted to advance to edit?

    Thanks for the help.

      Rachel McCollin

      Hi Chase,

      In answer to your first question – yes they’re just stored once on the system as a user, because Multisite only has one users table in the database, not one for each site. Once they’re logged in they can access all their sites.

      Not sure about your second question – they can see the sites they manage by clicking on the ‘my sites’ link in the admin menu but there isn’t a screen which shows this. There might be a plugin for it though!

    Brad Griffin

    @Nicholas, setting up individual and specific urls to run over multisite is somewhat impossible. It’s either an all or nothing type of scenario. SSLs are usually issued on a domain name basis. If each domain is mapped to an individual url, you will need to purchase multiple certificates. If they are all domains you’re in control over, rock on. If they are controlled by a ‘customer / client’ and with various different hosting setups, you’ll quickly find yourself needing Tylenol.

    @chase_replogle Yep. One username and p/w for all the multisites is definitely an option with multisite. How you set it up, and what permissions to give them ….THAT is where the ‘fun’ begins!


    Hi, excellent post on WordPress MultiSite. I’m wondering how WordPress MultiSite’s work with SEO and getting a good ranking with search engines?

      Rachel McCollin

      Hi Paul, It shouldn’t make any difference to your SEO, especially if you use domain mapping as search engines will register the mapped domain and not the network one. I tend to install and network activate an SEO plugin so all my sites can use it.

    Brad Griffin

    @Paul, the SEO factor of multisite depends on how it’s set up. The two options are: or
    I’ll skip the linking of 4 billion articles and just say that Google sees a sub.domain as a different entity than if you go with the folder route.
    Lemme throw an example out here. A guy owns 34 retail stores throughout Texas. Each store is set up on a multisite. This gives each person login creds to only their store, and allows managers to log into multiple stores using permissions. Now, the stores are all set up on FOLDERS (not so that it looks like this: and on and on. So the SEO is going for the main url ( as well as all the multisites of,2,3,4 ….,/store32.
    IF however you were to do, Google would see each and every one of those domains as separate websites.


      Hi Brad, thanks for your reply to my question re: SEO.

      I think I get it, but please let me ask a better question. It is possible to host sites containing different content (and therefore different SEO criteria i.e. keywords etc) on a WP multisite platform, and receive the same search engine ranking as a single site… as long as the WP multisite structure in based on folders and NOT sub domains. Is this correct?


    HI Brad,
    Just need to clarify
    (1) That you can use Upfront on Multisite and then create numerous sites under the Network with the Upfront theme?
    (2) If I join as WPMU DEV member I have free use of both Multisite and Upfront – No additional costs?
    Let me know


    Great guide! I am using both, single domain and network, installs for a while now. Both have their advantages and dis-advantages. I found that some of the essential plugins like SMTP Mail still won’t work in a network which is a major setback. Also, for test purposes, I wanted to migrate my single domain site into a network subdomain site. I did not succeed finding a tool which is able to handle that.
    Are there known solutions for both cases?
    I’ve also a network install with only one subdomain site. Is there a way to migrate it backwards to a single domain install by removing the additional entries in wp-config.php? The site is online, no room for experiments. I just want to use plugins which are not network ready.


        Hi Rachel,
        sorry, went through all seven pages of tuts and was not able to spot any information on the subject of moving wordpress. Also, the search did not yield anything.
        Where should it be contained?

          Rachel McCollin

          Sorry, I didn’t make that clear enough – I’ve recently written it but it hasn’t been published yet – due out in a couple of weeks :)


            @Rachel, excellent articles!

            @hittheroadjack, I just wanted to add here, Snapshot actually provides a simple way to migrate sites into and out from Multisite:

            You basically just install the plugin in both your network and your single-site, make a snapshot and import it wherever you need it.

            Just mentioning that here as a possible option too. :)

            Cheers, David


    Thanks for this great information!

    I am currently creating a done for you website for a specific niche.

    Could I use multisite to host the sites I make for my clients and can they have their own domain names?

    Also is there and easy way to duplicate the base site from a template in a cookie cutter kind of way and then make individual changes before I hand over each site to my customer?

    Thanks in advance!


    Andres Felipe

    Hi, excellent article, I have two questions:

    – I followed all the steps and put my site and multisite and create a new site within the network, but entered the link and does not show me anything that I can do.

    The page is:
    the site you create is:

    That I can review?

    – At the beginning of the article you mentioned that there was a pluggins for users to register and immediately created the site, the name of this pluggins?

    Thank You


      Hey there,

      The issue appears to be your wildcard on the subdomains, it’s not setup correctly. Basically, all traffic for *. needs to go to

      The quickest way to resolve this is often to just ask the host, they know the setup best and should be able to fix it within minutes.

      If you need further help with this, including us taking a look at the DNS, I see you’re a full member and so could you please open a support ticket and we’ll gladly assist further. You can also link to this comment for reference :)

      Take care.


    Thanks for the post on multisite.

    I am thinking of building a wordpress multisite platform with a website builder. The idea is tohave a multisite where users can subscribe and view different themes …select one …and modify them to fit their use. I would like to use a front editor plugin , so users can design from the frontend , without necessarily going to the wordpress backend dashboard.

    I plan to have about say 20 themes, users can choose from this themes and modify their individual sites.

    Would this be possible?
    Are there some plugin that don’t work on multisites…am thinking of using themify or visual composer for the front end editing


      Yes, absolutely it would be possibly to have themes they can modify on the front end. In fact we’ve got something that will fit perfectly for you. I’d like to introduce you to our newest theme release, it’s called Upfront:

      We also have a theme builder coming for this, you’ll be able to create your own range of themes and export them for your members to use. Awesome branding potential for newly created sites.

      Take a look, I’m sure you’re going to love it! :)


          We’ve been testing it internally, but it’s not quite ready for primetime yet.

          Apart from that, we don’t have anything further about it right now other than to say it’s coming. :)


    Would multisite be good if i combine a couple of wordpress installations to sync the users between them?


      With multisite there is no need to sync users, they’re all in the same database, they can use all the sites.

      By default they register to the network, each site they have a pseudo role of subscriber (default WordPress role when you signup), they can comment or whatever as needed. If you wish to give them a phsyical role, there’s a plugin for that:

      It’s created by Mika aka Ipstenu, it’s pretty sweet and simple to use too.

      As for the question of whether or not it would be good to combine two sites, personally I love the idea of multisite, others have varying opinions. I guess the best thing to do is install a sandbox, have a play, see what you think and make a decision from there.

      Take care.


    Hi Rachel,

    Great article!! One of the best I’ve read so far.

    I know you can activate a plugin for the entire network or every site can activate a plugin (previously installed) individually, but it sounds like every site manage their own data per plugin. I mean, that is great, but my question would be: Is it possible to have a plugin whose content is shared for all the sites of the network?. For example, I could have a plugin which give me a custom post type and I would want every entry is seen by all the sites.

    Thanks for the help

    Dale Reardon

    Great post thanks and I now see the benefit of Multi Site.

    One query – is it possible to give different sites on the network SSL urls and protection? Normally SSL requires a dedicated IP for a unique domain name and you hint that dedicated IPs are a reason not to use multi site.

    Of course with subdomains you can just install a wildcard SSL cert but I’m more interested in unique domain names.



    NO ONE can answer this after searching for the last 30 hours spread over one week. I have 2 web addresses. and clearly they have nothing to do with each other. Both are hosted by hostgator. I built my redbush site on wordpress and want to built my tungsten site there as well. BUT I DON’T WANT A SUBDOMAIN One related to the other NONSCENCE SET UP THINGS!!!! Arghh Can someone just tell me where to add my tungsten site to the same wordpress account and flick between the two. or is it impossible? ? The one who cracks this is a genious. Many thanks.


      Hey Grae,

      If you want one login, one install, you’d need to set up the multisite and then create a subsite. That could be a subfolder or subdomain first. You then map the domain with a plugin like our Domain Mapping plugin:

      Both sites now have their own separate domain name, end users won’t see the subdomain, and you get one login for both sites on the same install. Is that what you’re looking for?

      Take care.


    This is a very useful article – immediately bookmarked it. Please keep on updating as newer WP versions come out.
    2 small questions : if you can help –
    1) How can the Super Admin set some “Categories” so all sites by default get to see those like the “Uncategorized”
    2) Default starter theme when a site/user registers at Multsite. I remember it is just one line in wp-config but exactly what … can this be please included
    3) Default set of widgets for all sites by Super Admin – there are several plugins – which one you will recommend most?



    Great article. I apologize in advance for the length of comment/question. I had a question about data sharing. Can the content be shared across multiple sites? I have inherited, what IMHO, is kind of a mess of sites. Parent company, a sort of directory, and multiple sites under it which right now are seperate. What I would like to do is be able to setup a MU Network, to have the parent/umbrella company as a hub/main and the child spokes could have the option to have the parent theme and say 2-3 pages. So everything would look like the parent. Much if not all of the child content is also held by the parent, so there is a lot of duplication of contact info, images, forms and about us kind of content. Also, I was thinking that for marketing purposes, some of the children/spoke sites would also want a vanity domain so that I would almost create 2 child sites for 1 company. One that appears/looks like the parent ( limit 2-3 pages ) and another that a domain could be mapped to, but would be a more full blown site, with different skin.
    It seems doable. I have already written templates to pull data from the child to the parent but this seems like a better option or do I have to implement a push/pull syndication method (xml-rpc) to keep everything in sync. I envision frequent changes to pics and content, so I would like to store most of the content in the parent and push to the child sites.
    Is this even possible?
    Thanks in Advance – Joe


      guess I found my answer

      Do you really need a network?

      The sites in a multisite network are separate, very much like the separate blogs at They are not interconnected like things in other kinds of networks (even though plugins can create various kinds of interconnections between the sites). If you plan on creating sites that are strongly interconnected, that share data, or share users, then a multisite network might not be the best solution.

        Rachel McCollin

        Hi Joe, just to add to your comment – the sites in a Multisite network do share users, and they also share themes and plugins. So if you’re creating a network where multiple sites will be using the same themes or plugins it can save a lot of hassle. I also find it saves me logging in to multiple sites that I manage – I just have one install to worry about.


          First, thanks for the great article. I’ve been wanting to learn more about Multisite for a while and this helped tremendously.

          I have a similar situation to Joe (parent company, multiple websites and users). We would like to share user data for access across multiple sites. As Joe mentions, the WordPress Codex specifically says Multisite might not be the best solutions to share users (“If you plan on creating sites that are strongly interconnected, that share data, or share users, then a multisite network might not be the best solution.” And yet you say it is great for sharing users. Any idea why WordPress would advise against this? It sounds like it works great for you.


    I’m looking for a developer who is experienced at converting an existing site to Multi-site. I’m in Brisbane Australia but can deal with anyone anywhere. Any clues? [email protected]


    Hi Everyone, after some advice if I may – I am wondering if Multisite (new to me) is the way to go for my scenario. I’ll try to explain….

    I’m setting up a WordPress Design website, let’s say that will be the shop front for local WP website design. I would like the ability to be able to then create a subdomain such as, within which I could build and provide preview to my clients by sending them a link to (of course each separate customer project will need to have it’s own WP theme / data / media etc)

    Then, once the customer design was complete and accepted by them I could either a). move their site across to their hosting server/provider, or b). I could put the site live from my hosting, by doing some sort of domain mapping / masking (so that it stays in my network), but the site can be reached by going straight to the customers’ domain such as (and without anyone being none the wiser)

    I hope I’ve explained myself well enough here (I think I have!)
    All constructive advise & guidance very much appreciated – thanks in advance

      Rachel McCollin

      Hi Paul, this is exactly what I do and it works very smoothly for me. Instead of using the projects subdomain that you suggest, I create a subdomain for that client, which will eventually be their live site. During development it’s blocked from search engines and has a teaser page. Once it goes live I use domain mapping to map the client’s domain to the site and as you say, no-one is any the wiser! It means that I only have to update plugins etc. on all my sites just once, and saves me a lot of time. It also helps if anything happens to the server or sites go down as I only have one site to restore and all my client sites are up and running again.


    You mention “You can create sites manually or you can install a plugin that lets users create their own” but I don’t see any mention of what plugin is required later in the article. This is critical to me as the wp-signup.php page/process is horrible.


        Hi Brad,

        Thanks for the quick response. Read through that other post and still not seeing anything anywhere in regards to a plugin that allows people to create sites. The only process I have ever found is wp-signup which I find to be extremely inflexible. Maybe the issue here is that you’re speaking about a very broad, general process of “creating sites with plugins” (referring to all of the WPMU plugins I’m already using to run my multisite) versus a very specific “I need a plugin to replace wp-signup.php”.

          Rachel McCollin

          Hi Peter, the article Brad refers to includes the Pro Sites plugin which does exactly what you need. Hope that helps!


            Unfortunately the current version of pro sites doesn’t have any affect on wp-signup.php which is what I need to change. Fortunately I’ve heard the next version is going to allow us to completely replace that process, so fingers crossed it comes out soon!

    Brad Griffin

    @peter_harris. Ya know, after hearing a bit more, it sounds like what you’re needing / wanting is “just” the signup page (this—>) to be changed / tweaked / modified. Is that correct?

    If that’s the “extremely inflexibile” part that you’re referring to, then ‘WHAT’ specifically are you wanting to change / tweak / twerk / modify? (please don’t twerk) Is it the fields, the colors, the text or something else?


    Debating if WPMU is the right solution for what our company is planning on doing. Essentially, we will be creating a network of sites where all the content between each sub-domain is the exact same however the theme is different for each. We were thinking of something like infiniteWP, CMS commander, but neither of them would allow us to edit a page after it has been published (we will be adding tools, links, etc to an existing page and would want that modification to be made live accross all sites within the network). Is WPMU the right solution for this?


      WPMU is the old name for Multisite, it’s generally WPMS now. Just mentioning this to avoid confusion with our brand :)

      I think the key there is what you said, a network of sites. Multisite helps create a network.

      Creating multiple copies of content on websites is a bad idea though, Google don’t like that, and it will actively restrict your site(s) from getting a top spot in search results. [EDIT] I see you made another response where that isn’t important :)

      As for if it’s the right tool or not, that’s your decision to make. Personally I’d use multisite, but I know people that would prefer otherwise.

      If you want to sync/duplicate posts, there is a plugin:

      Take care

    Brad Griffin

    W/ some heavy customization @matthew, what you’re describing is definitely possible, but …well… it definitely does not sound like multisite is the best solution here. I’m almost positive that someone’s going to spout off about duplicate content,
    (watch the ‘half elf’ do it here —>
    but I had to do the same thing a few years back for a chain of retail stores, so I totally get where you’re coming from.
    It really doesn’t sound like multisite would be a good solution for this, and here’s why. The ‘same content’ part is fine. but (and I don’t mind being wrong on this) I don’t see a solution for repopulating-the-same-content type of scenario. I DO, though, see how some of these ‘might’ work.
    I wonder if you ‘could’ use this to go from “site1″ to “site2, site3, site4, …..”


    @Brad, thanks for your response. The duplicate content isn’t an issue as each install will be a private site that google wouldn’t see. Seeing that there might be a request for a single sign-on feature from some sites, a separate install with a custom plugin might be the only solution.


    Hi there. As others have said, great post.

    I just need one thing clarified before I go forward with the multisite option and I can’t seem to find a definitive “yes”. I’m hoping you can tell me.

    When using Multisite, do you still have a “main” URL site? For example, say my URL is “”. If I choose multisite with subdomains, that main site won’t change to a subdomain site, just subsequent new sites will need have to have the subdomain, correct? So, will stay and not have to become a subdomain itself?

    An example of one of the things that I’m wanting to do here is to have my main “informational” site (, and then use multisite to create a blog site, ( Is this how it will work?

    Thanks so much. I hope that made sense.


      Rachel McCollin

      Hi Adam, glad you liked the post. In answer to your question: yes. You do have a main site at the original url where you installed WordPress – this is the site you originally installed. Then once you’ve set up Multisite you add extra sites which use subdomains or subdirectories depending on which you opt for.


    Very useful post, thank you. Two things: plugin suggestions and a question.

    First, I am using the multisite approach to create an e-commerce multi-region site and then making each region’s site mutli-lingual. To help with this, I am using the ” WordPress Multilingual” and the “Multilingual Woo-Commerce” plugins. I highly recommend them!

    Secondly, do you happen to know of a plugin that will create a sort of “country selector” landing page. For example, the landing page has a drop-down lists that redirects you to the site in the country you want. That is exactly what I want.

    Thanks again!


      The current solution I can think of is to use the main domain I installed WP on as the this “country selector” page I am describing. All I would is make this site have only one page and create a menu on it with links to my other countries’ pages. So when users go to, they will see a drop down menu with countries and then when they click USA they will go to and from there they can use the language selector to go to


    I’m still not quite sure if I should use multisite or not. I want to create a dozen or more separate domains with the same plugins, and mostly the same information. I want to have some static info that is the same on all the sites, along with a video, and use ninjaforms to accept form submissions and email PDF files to the form submitters. It will also add their email address to an email marketing service I use (similar to mailchimp) would multisite be a good solution for me?


      Hey there @dax702

      Sure thing! If you want to make your life (and management of your sites) a lot easier, then a multisite environment sounds ideal for what you want to create.

      However, in a multisite, subsite names are appended to the main site’s domain name like so:


      So, if you want each subsite to have a distinct domain name, you would need to use a domain mapping plugin. Fortunately, we just happen to have an excellent one:


    Question: Is it possible to create a multi-site network within another multi-site network? For example, I have “”, with subdomains such as “”, “”, etc. Is it possible to create a “”, which has subdomains such as “”, “”, etc.? Thus, “” and “” would be two different multi-site networks.

      Brad Griffin

      YUP! It sure is @Tim! I haven’t gone that far down the rabbit hole in quite a while. ;-)

      Somewhere in the repo, there is a plugin that will help you make a network within a network.


    I converted my domain and sub domains to multisite, but my subdomains don’t seem to be behaving as though they are part of the network. For example, when I install and network activate a new plugin, it is not available or listed in the subdomain plugins. Do I need to add some code to the wp-config and .htaccess files for each subdomain? Do I need to recreated my subdomains from the network control panel? What I did was add the existing subdomains from the network control panel and just assumed they would fall in line and behave like they were part of the network, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. No one seems to discuss this anywhere online. If I have to start over and recreate my subdomains, what’s the best way to move the content from the old to the new sites and retain the original subdomain name?

    I would appreciate any help on this. I’m not getting anywhere with it on my own.


    Hi there @Don

    Thanks for taking the time to ask the hard questions. Let’s see if we can give you some simple answers. :)

    First thing about plugins is that many are designed to be network-activated only and thus may not appear at all in the subsite plugins list. Some are designed so that IF they are network-activated (as opposed to activated site-by-site), they may or may not appear in the subsite plugins list. So that really depends on which plugin(s) you have activated, and how they are designed to behave in a multisite environment.

    As for your subdomains, I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) you have created subdomains in your cPanel, adding them to your main account. Is that right? If so, simply creating a multisite will not automatically add them as subsites in the multisite network.

    To convert those existing subdomain sites into subsites of your multisite network, you would want to use a plugin like our excellent Snapshot Pro to make a backup of each of those single sites, then migrate them one by one into the network. Once that is done, you can safely delete the original subdomain sites as they would then be a part of your multisite network and would inherit all the goodies.

    Then, if you want to retain the existing domain name of each site, you could use our Domain Mapping plugin.


    Does WPMU offer a plugin that replicates the new user sign-up experience at wordpress dot com? I need if so. There’s so many plugins I’m not sure which might cover this best.


    Hi #Rachel McCollin

    Thank You for this artcicle.

    I am creating a 3 language newssite, though I have tryed to learn about Multisite, I have doubt. Do I need to use a multisite ?

    This is a 3 language Tourism news portal, and I would write the same in each language. Only like text on banners would be different beside tha. Could I pull this off using single install and using WPML ?

    Need Your opinion



    Hi There! I implemented the techniques but got a problem. When creating a new site it sent me email with login url, userid and pass, but did not do anything to the subdomain. The folder remain empty – nada! In other words it pretended to install a sub-WP, but did nothing, except sending email about the completion of … what! I can give you the credentials if you want to look into this.
    The other question is – I have a subdomain with a single install and want to convert it under the umbrella of already created multi-site. How to do it?
    Please let me know. Thanks!


    Amazing. Four days later I had exactly the same thing happen as the previous poster.
    – Had an existing site
    – Followed the [excellent] steps
    – Added a new site, giving it a subdomain (assuming it would create the subdomain)
    – Got the confirmation email
    – Went to login at and only get “This webpage is not available.”

    Other clues:
    – When I look in the subdomains for that domain listed by my host (Bluehost), that new subdomain isn’t there.
    – Thought of adding it manually but figured that will probably create an impossible mess.
    – Also it would want me to tell it where the Home folder (aka Document Root) for the subdomain should be (somewhere inside “/public_html/, and I haven;t got a clue how WP Multi sets them up.

    So I’m out of things to try. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.



      Hey Steve, this is Paul. We don’t have an answer at this forum. I went down to the WP and posted my concerns there —> There is one guy who helped me but I’m still in the same situation. I made changes to 3 php files in WP 4.2.2 but to no progress. I’m still at the same point. Now I contacted my host to eliminate the eventual hosting issues. Expect answer within 24 hours from now. PM me amcotop at please!


    How can I install the PlugIns which come with my premium-Wordpress-Theme in a Multisite-Installation?


      Is this with your WPMU DEV membership?

      Or are you referring to another service?

      With our service you can use the WPMU DEV Dashboard Plugin:

      You can download that and install it just like any other plugin, either over FTP, or via your network plugin area:

      Admin –> Network –> Plugins –> Add New

      This goes for other plugins too.

      Hope this helps.


    Thanks for a very thorough explanation.

    May I assume that the menus for each site can be specific to that site – with more or fewer tabs depending upon enduser needs?

      Tyler Postle

      Hey Lee,

      Yes, that’s correct :) each site has it’s own dashboard. Looks just like a single site from the dashboard, but instead you have a new network admin and you can access all site dashboards from one-login. So each site can have it’s own menus, active plugins, theme, content, etc.

      We even have a plugin that allows you to pre-setup different templates for your users so when they sign up for a site they can have it already prepared/designed for them and they just need to enter in their own information:

      Enjoy your weekend!


    Stephan Noack

    Great Article – I always wondered whether I should bring all the sites together under a multisite for easier management, however it seems that if I ended up selling one of the sites, that would suck without being able to migrate wordpress sites off.

    For migrating my wordpress sites, I always use

      Tyler Postle

      Hey Stephan,

      Thanks for the comment! Sorry for not getting back to you until now :D

      Yes, migrating a subsite out of a multisite into a subsite isn’t exactly ideal. Issues can arise depending on what sort of setup that subsite had. Our Snapshot plugin that was mentioned in the article above( ), does have migrate logic built in so it is possible to do, but it’s still in beta at the moment. Hopefully we can improve that soon – will be an awesome feature!



    Hi Rachel,

    Thank you for such an informative article. I’m a newbie and trying to navigate through this, so please excuse my ignorance.

    I have already developed my website, and am using a very flexible theme, but their blog customization is limited. I want to have a completely different theme for my blog: (or – that you mentioned).

    Would I use a multisite or multi theme? I have a feeling multisite. But want to confirm before I start muddling around!

    Thank you so very very much.


      Tyler Postle

      Hey there Melissa,

      You have probably already got this all sorted out, but I just wanted to mention that we do have a post on using multiple themes on the same site, but different pages:

      I’m assuming when you say different theme for your blog, it’s just the blog pages and not a new site?

      Multisite would also work for this but it would mean you have another site within your network, 1 that is dedicated to the blog and the other that is more of the landing page and any other content you want on there. You could have completely different themes and plugins on each site.

      Hope this helps! Any further questions just let us know.



    Thanks for all of this information!
    I have setup a multisite recently to have a translated mirror blog of my blog in Spanish, and used a plugin to translate it.
    All is well, and I love how the multisite works overall, but I was trying to fine tune things now that I noticed that the headings in my theme are all in English in both sites, and I can’t figure out how to edit the headers in the theme of the blog in Spanish, or if it’s even possible.
    I guess my question is-
    If the theme is installed once through the network admin screens, both blogs are running the same version of the same theme. Is it even possible to make changes only to one blog?
    When I go to cpanel, I, of course, only see the theme in one place, so I can’t make the changes there.
    As I’m writing this, it has occurred to me that I’d probably have to edit the theme and rename it and install it as if it were a separate theme in these cases?

      Tyler Postle

      Hey Daniela, sorry for the late reply here, but in-case you haven’t already – you will want to ask the seller of the theme as licenses can differ depending on who you buy from.

      For our plugins, when you get a membership you can use our products on as many sites as you like :) with the exception of only a couple that require the use of our API, those ones have individual limits; however, in our case a multisite would count as just 1 site.


    Brad Griffin

    Can I just happily drop a link up in this thread?
    I’m friggin’ PUMPED!!
    A coding buddy and I just finished a plugin out of utter frustration b/c there was nothing else out there that would work for for the Featured Image and Woo. Our plugin is actively being used on several client’s sites so: 1) It IS actively maintained 2) We’re publicly running nightly bleeding edges (not just ‘beta’) on the demo site 3) It DOES work for Featured Images …and… [drumroll] 4) It works for Featured Image and Product Image when you’re running WooCommerce in a multisite environment!![/drumroll]


    Hello. Thank you for the very thoughtful write-up.

    I just have a question regarding multi-site in general. Say for example, I have a website that offers a service, but I want certain details to be different for different markets – would/could I use multisite to cater for that? for example and I suppose the question then is, how would I set up each site to be exactly the same as my original site so that I can then go into each site and make the minor modifications particular to it (i.e. to make it particular to that market). So, how would I do that?

    Also, is there a way to set up a system such that a user, when he types into his/her brower, automatically gets re-directed to or depending on location?

    Appreciate your help!


    Rachel –
    I spent weeks trying to figure a way to build a client network with this level of control. I went straight to the Codex docs at I’m embarrassed to admit I just couldn’t get it. (Would you believe I was an IT application analyst in American Healthcare for 10 years? I can manage my way through some murky concepts intentionally designed to confuse!)

    Just wanted to stop and say thanks for the info. I’m already exploring your other posts. You have a gift . . . and a new fan. Oh, and I’m coming back to get Upfront!



    What would be the best practices for development workflow when developing client sites for a multisite setup like yours and how do you manage local development environment? Is It possible to migrate just one newly created site from local development to production site in an easy way when the database is one and the same?


    I have various different URLs which run on WordPress and I thought using Multi-Site would allow me to install and update WordPress, themes and plugins only once.
    However, reading this post I’m not sure about this anymore. It looks like this Multi-Site installation is only for those that want to use subdomains or subdirectories.
    Could you please let me know how to achieve what I’m looking for? Maybe you already wrote a post on it which I can’t find.


    First off, thank’s a lot for this post! Fast & Easy :)

    I followed your instructions to the T and everything seemed to work fine until I got to the /wp-admin/network/setup.php screen and it was blank… So I ran the debug check and this is what it says:
    Fatal error: Class ‘APF_MetaBox_For_Pages_Side’ not found in \network_admin\load_network_admin_pages.php on line 37 (note I am excluding directories here). I tried to research this and cannot find a lot in regards to a fix.

    I am wordpress on running IIS 7 (i know, i know) but at this point, shouldn’t make that big of a deal. Any suggestions?

      Tyler Postle

      Hey Andrew,

      I’ve never seen this error myself and as you mentioned there is very little information on it when searching for it. I would assume it would have to do with the fact you’re installing it on a server running IIS 7. I don’t know much about IIS 7 myself, I’d suggest asking a system admin about the error.

      Sorry I don’t have anything more helpful to offer!




    Thanks for this great tutorial which was really helpful in getting the multisite setup. But I have a question which I think you should help me out as this is my first experience with WP multisite.

    I have some pages which has banners and other content and I would like those pages to be created for each new user site with all the default content, banners, side/top menu on those pages. Kindly let me know if I can achieve this by some coding changes or need a plugin for that.

    I’ll really appreciate your help regarding this.



    Great post, I’ve looked into multisite a few times and still curious by it.

    Am I right in thinking that I can run a WordPress install (single site) on – with a multisite installed in (a subdirectory) – and then use the domain mapper plugin to point to the individual sites in the multisite…….? And what would the URLs be inside the multisite!?

    I hope this makes sense. It messes with my head thinking about it..!

Comments are closed.