MultiSite Pros & Cons

I just realized the plugin I wanted most only works with Multi-Site install (the support plugin).

I know nothing about Multi-Site (yet).

I'm running 5 Wordpress blogs.

For those who have used Multi-Site and single installs, is it going to be in my best interest to upgrade now? (And take the time to learn the system, and convert everything over?)

What's the pros and cons I need to consider?

Is anything going to not work on the Multi-Site install that works currently on the single site install?

Lastly, will I be able to develop locally on a MAMP server using wordpress Multi-Site?

Sorry for the total newbie questions. I'd rather just get some specific answers now before investing hours only to find Multi-Site isn't going to cut it for my needs.

  • Gabe

    Hey Magi, great questions. I’ll do my best to answer them for you as I’m familiar with single site, multisite and multisite on a dev server.

    For those who have used Multi-Site and single installs, is it going to be in my best interest to upgrade now? (And take the time to learn the system, and convert everything over?)
    Yes. It’ll be a bit of work in migrating the websites, but it’ll save you time in the long run with one WordPress installation to manage, especially if you’ll be adding more sites in the future. Once you get past the install, the learning curve isn’t too steep. Just setup your main site and export/import your subsites. You can easily map the domains with WPMU’s domain mapping plugin: https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/domain-mapping/

    What's the pros and cons I need to consider?
    With multisite you only have to manage/upgrade one set of themes, plugins, etc. Also, some hosting services limit how many WordPress installs you can have, but typically offer unlimited multisite subsites on your install.

    Is anything going to not work on the Multi-Site install that works currently on the single site install?
    It depends on your setup. All sites will share the same themes, so if your sites are using the same plugins/themes but with custom modifications you may have to create new versions of the themes to retain those customizations, but this is relatively simple.
    Another consideration is if you main/primary site needs to be changed, it can be a bit painful but is typically seamless if you do it right.

    The multisite installation will add a few multisite specific options, but nothing crazy.

    Lastly, will I be able to develop locally on a MAMP server using WordPress Multi-Site?
    Yep. I’m currently using a multisite install on my XAMPP server.

    Hope this helps. Let us know what other questions you have.

  • magi

    Okay, after a bit of fuss, I got Multi-Site to work on the localhost. Still unsure now how to take everything online...

    Perhaps another newbie question:

    What's the optimal way now to host the multi-site?

    ...The multi-site install on it's own domain (or can I use one of my existing domains and run all my other 4 blogs from that domain)?

    Is Google or anyone else going to be able to see all the sites I have running from Multi-Site?

    Have I lost site anonymity for the added convenience?

  • Gabe

    Hey Magi.

    What's the optimal way now to host the multi-site?

    ...The multi-site install on its own domain (or can I use one of my existing domains and run all my other 4 blogs from that domain)?

    You *can* install the multisite as part of another multisite network, but from what I understand of your situation, it’s much better to host it on its own domain.

    I’m not sure I completely understand your question, but the benefit of multisite is that you can host the primary website (parent multisite) on one domain and host your other blogs as subsites throughout your multisite network with their own domains using WPMU’s domain mapping plugin: https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/domain-mapping/ As a result, all of your blogs would be using the same installation as a multisite network and all use different domains if you wish.

    Is Google or anyone else going to be able to see all the sites I have running from Multi-Site?

    A multisite subsite is similar to a WordPress single site installation in terms of privacy, so it works the same way. Whether or not Google or anyone else sees your site is not affected by whether or not you're using multisite.

    Have I lost site anonymity for the added convenience?

    You haven't lost site anonymity. If you want privacy, the settings are the same. Just go to Settings > Privacy and ask robots not to index the site as you would on any single site installation. Multisite can function the same way as a single site installation with regards to privacy.

    Hope this helps.

  • Gabe

    It depends how bad they want to know I guess. At first glance, no because each website would have its own separate domain using WPMU's domain mapping plugin: https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/domain-mapping/

    If they dug deep, they could tell the sites share the same IP address, hosting, etc. But that would be the case no matter whether they're multisite or single site installations assuming they're hosted at the same place anyway.

    So, assuming you're using different domains there isn't anything (that I know of) inherently in multisite that would tip someone off that they were all your sites.

    That said, search engines (particularly Google) discounts links between sites when there are many links from the same IP address. The only way to change this would be to host all sites on different accounts or even different hosts assuming shared hosting/shared IP addresses.

    For even more anonymity you'd need domain privacy at your domain to hide your info in a WHOIS search.

    So it really depends what your purpose is and do what extent you want anonymity. If this doesn't answer the questions give us more details.

    As a side note, most people really won't care and if it's to trick search engines to improve rankings (i.e. to mass cross-link) it really doesn't work well anyway. 99% of people are fine using a multisite install with different domains (https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/domain-mapping/) as long as they're using white hat SEO techniques.

    Hope this helps.

  • Gabe

    Right. Any site that's part of a multisite network shares the same installation so it'll have the same IP cluster. Therefore, any domain using that installation will necessarily have an appropriate A record or CNAME pointing to it.

    If sites are on different hosting accounts, they'll need their own installations, either single or multisite. I don't know of any tricks to do it any other way, though some of our more advanced users might. Hope this helps.

  • magi

    I spoke too soon. Looks like the multi-site import didn't work properly.

    I'm having to redo everything.

    I have quick question about the best structure for multi-site.

    I have 5 blogs that are going to go on this particular server, more will be added later.

    I don't see the point in buying a domain just to host my top-level multi-site.

    Can I simply make the top level one of those 5 blogs domains, then run the other 4 off from it?

    (The blog in the Admin sites that simply shows the "/" with no subdomain.)

    Will this cause unforeseeable problems?

    Or should I create a separate subfolder for all 5 blogs. Then host on the multi-site on one blog domain, and use some domain mapping wizardry to get the domains to resolve properly?

    P.S. for the love of all that is good and Holy, there must be some kind of multi-site import script that works with big blogs?? I've already tried Backup Buddy, and kept getting 9004 errors no matter what I tried.

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