Knowing which plugins should be "network activated"

Hello, hope everyone's day is going well.

I have a question about network activating plugins. Is there any way i could know which plugins need to be network activated and which should not be.

  • Patrick

    Hi there @Thomas

    I hope you're having a great day!

    There is no set of rules governing which plugins should be network-activated or not. That all depends on the particular plugin.

    You will usually find activation guidelines for each plugin in their respective descriptions, changlogs, usage & FAQ pages, etc.

    Basically, there are 5 possible ways a plugin can function:

    1 - A plugin could be designed to be network-activated only, like our Pro Sites plugin, and only has settings in the network admin.

    2 - Or it could be designed to be network-activated on multisite installs, and have settings/options in both the network-admin and site-admins, like our Support System plugin... which also works just fine on single sites too. :slight_smile:

    3 - A plugin could also be designed to be network-activated or activated site-by-site, but have no settings at all in the network admin because it functions on a per-site basis, like our Directory or Classifieds plugins.

    4 - It could also be designed to be either network-activated or activated site-by-site, but would have distinctly different functionality in each case, like BuddyPress for example.

    5 - Finally, a plugin could be designed to function on single site installs only, and would do nothing at all on multisites, like our User Synchronization plugin.

    So that really depends on the plugin you want to activate on your site, and what it was designed to do.

    Also, in a multisite install, it is quite common to network-activate plugins that you want to make available to all sites in your network. Say, for example, you want all sites to be able to create their own classified ad section. You would instal and network-activate the Classifieds plugin. There would be no network settings for you to worry about, but every site in the network would have that plugin active by default.

    Please let us know if this helps, and don't hesitate to post again if you need to.

  • Thomas

    Hello Patrick, thank you for that help.

    Ok, so let me start with the "WOW" factor:

    WOW, all this time i thought user sync was doing something. Like i hav it on my main site and added it to subsites for the network (not members/users sites). I thought by doing so it would allow members that joined through the main site would be synced with my subsites (which is very important). Like my main site is ECYPnetwork and there is a Support site ( and most importantly on the community site ( What i am trying to do is build a multisite networking "community". I want to use the membership2 plugin to handle the members thats joining the network (for free), and the prosite plugin to allow members to upgrade their sites to PRO. When members join i need them, and all their roles and capabilities to be synced on our subsites. I have received numerous post from staff in regards to syncing users. It's either confusing or conflicting (getting different messages from different staff members).

    For the Post Question on network activating plugins

    The reason i asked the question is because i noticed how some plugins seem to be made for network activation (such as prosite), or should be used for the "Main Site". Furthermore, When i network "Deactivate" all plugins i had noticed for a long time that many of the plugins don't show on the subsites or even main site on the plugin page. Of around 150 plugins i only ever see about 89 of them don't show on the plugin page on main site or subsites. This made my assume that maybe it's because some plugins "need" to be network activated. Should i only Network activate plugins like Pro site, Domain mapping, Languages, Theme manager, invite and a few others... for capability/functionality access.

  • Patrick

    Hi again @Thomas

    I hope you had a great weekend!

    Oops, our User Synchronization plugin was designed to enable you to sync user data across multiple installs of WordPress. it was not designed to do that in the same multisite network (which is one install of WordPress).

    It sounds like what you are looking for is either the Join My Multisite plugin (to allow users to join the subsites they're interested in), or Multisite User Management (which allows the network admin to set the user role for new users on each subsite individually):

    As for the question about network activating only certain plugins, again, that depends on the specific plugin. There is no general rule for that, nor should there be one. But yes, if a plugin that you have deactivated does not appear on the Plugins page of either your main site or any subsites, then that plugin was designed to be network-activated only.

    What is recommended though is that you read everything you can find about the specific plugin before even installing it on your site. There is a treasure trove of information available for most every plugin; either on the plugin's page at, here at WPMU DEV, or other premium providers' sites.

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