Network activation vs per-site activation: is there any difference from a performance standpoint?

I run small multisite network (~100 sites), and I was wondering if there's any difference, performance wise, in having a plugin (or some of them) activated on a site-per-site basis or network activated...

What do you think?

Thanks in advance for your answer :slight_smile:

  • Adam Czajczyk
    • Support Gorilla

    Hi chickenrun

    I hope you're well today and thank you for your question!

    I'd say that this is a bit more complex than just that :slight_smile: A Multisite is a specific type of install and if it comes to plugins on such setup:

    1. there are plugins that must be network activated and you won't even be able to enable them "per site"

    2. there are plugins that "technically" can be network activated or "per site" activated but they won't work properly in one of these cases

    3. there are plugins that you can network activate and per-site activate but that doesn't make any difference in the way the work

    4. there are plugins that can be both network- and per-site enabled and depending on that they work differently

    5. there are those that can only be per-site activated

    6. and finally, there are some (though these are rare cases) that won't work on mutlisite at all.

    In case of 1, 2, 5 and 6 that seems pretty obvious. In case of 2 (can be network or per-site enabled but works the same) there's actually no rule. I would go for network-activation personally, as it's easier to manage and it should be a bit more "performance efficient" but there's no guarantee, I'm afraid, and it usually would have to be tested - with a specific plugin on a specific setup.

    A "network activated" plugin has that advantage too that it cannot be disabled by the admin of the subsite - only by super admin. So, if you want to "force" sub-site admins to use it, that's the choice.

    As for 4, that's again a specific case and here the main reason to decide whether plugin should be network-enabled or per-site enabled should be how do you want to use it.

    Is there any specific plugin (especially our) that you have in mind?

    Best regards,

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