WordPress Multisite Network is a technology that allows you to control several WordPress websites from a single Dashboard. With it you can update and install plugins and themes on several websites with a single click, as well as use the same database across them.

Requirements for WordPress Multisite Installation

  1. Hosting with PHP support.
  2. Basic WordPress skills.
  3. About 30 minutes of your time.

There are no specific requirements — as long as you can use WordPress on your hosting, you can use Multisite.

On the other hand, not every hosting has enough resources to support a fully-fledged Multisite Network. Out of Unihost plans, we recommend U-Fly. And if you expect a large number of visitors from the get go — we recommend you to go straight to VPS.

Before Installation

WordPress Multisite is not needed:

  • If you want to control several websites from a single dashboard
  • If you want to update plugins in a single click.

All you need for those tasks are ManageWP or InfiniteWP. They bring you most of the WordPress Multisite benefits without any of its drawbacks.

WordPress Multisite is needed:

  • If you want to use the same database on several website.

Benefits of WordPress Multisite

  • Common databases. Users that are registered on one website are registered on all websites in the same network. It is up to you whether their admin rights transfer.
  • Common core. All plugins and themes that are installed on one website, are installed on all of them. You can still have custom settings for each website.
  • Common Dashboard. All websites can be controlled from the same Dashboard.

Drawbacks of WordPress Multisite

  • Shared Hosting Resources. Websites share the hosting resources, so if one of them goes down — all of them do.
  • Shared password system. If someone manages to hack one of your websites, they would have easier time hacking the rest of them.
  • Plugin compatibility issues. Some plugins do not work on Multisite websites or produce errors.

WordPress Multisite Installation

You can install WordPress in Multisite mode directly — all you need to do is to check a corresponding mark during installation. And if you are not familiar with WordPress installation, you can read our manual.

But if you want to make a Multisite Network out of already existing WordPress website — keep reading.

Enabling the Multisite Mode

By default, the Multisite functionality is disabled and it cannot be enabled directly from the Dashboard. Which means that you will need to edit wp-config.php.

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Click File manager.How to enable the Multisite Mode
  3. Double click the public_html folder to open it.Редактирование .htaccess при установке WordPress Multisite
  4. Click on the wp-config.php fileРедактирование wp-config.php при установке WordPress Multisite
  5. Click EditHow to enable the Multisite Mode
  6. Find the line: /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */
  7. Insert above it:
    /* Multisite */
    define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );
  8. Click Save changesHow to enable the Multisite Mode

Setting up the Network

After you’ve enabled the Multisite, you need to create the Network. To do this:

  1. Log into your website’s Dashboard.
  2. In the left sidebar click Tools > Network Setup.Network Setup
  3. Here you need to choose the network type — with subdomains or with subcatalogues. The decision is completely up to you.
    • With subdomains. In this case websites would look like site1.maindomain.com.
    • With subcatalogues. In this case websites would look like maindomain.com/site1.
  4. In the Network Title field, enter the title of your network. It can be seen only by the website admins.
  5. Click Install.Setting up the Multisite Network

After that, WordPress will present you with code that you need to place in wp-config.php and .htaccess in order for Multisite to work correctly.

If you have chose subdomains in step 3 — you need to enable the subdomain support in cPanel.

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Under Domains click Subdomains.How to enable the subdomain support for WordPress Multisite in cPanel
  3. Place a * symbol in the Subdomain field.
  4. Choose your main domain from the drop-down list.
  5. Click Create.How to enable the subdomain support for WordPress Multisite in cPanel

File editing

To begin with, edit wp-config:

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Click File manager.How to enable the Multisite Mode
  3. Double click the public_html folder to open it.Редактирование .htaccess при установке WordPress Multisite
  4. Click on the wp-config.php fileРедактирование wp-config.php при установке WordPress Multisite
  5. Click EditHow to enable the Multisite Mode
  6. Insert the new code above the line /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */
    1. If you have chosen subcatalogues — insert
      define('MULTISITE', true);
      define('SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', false);
      define('DOMAIN_CURRENT_SITE', 'PUT HERE YOUR MAIN WEBSITE ADDRESS');
      define('PATH_CURRENT_SITE', '/');
      define('SITE_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1);
      define('BLOG_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1);
    2. If you have chosen subdomains — insert:
      define('MULTISITE', true);
      define('SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', true);
      define('DOMAIN_CURRENT_SITE', 'PUT HERE YOUR MAIN WEBSITE ADDRESS');
      define('PATH_CURRENT_SITE', '/');
      define('SITE_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1);
      define('BLOG_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1);
  7. Click Save changesHow to enable the Multisite Mode

Now you need to edit .htaccess. To do this:

  1. Click File manager.
    How to enable the Multisite Mode
  2. Click Settings.Editing the .htaccess to use WordPress Multisite
  3. Check a mark in front of Show Hidden Files (dotfiles).
  4. Click Save.Editing the .htaccess to use WordPress Multisite
  5. Double click the public_html folder to open it.Редактирование .htaccess при установке WordPress Multisite
  6. Click the .htaccess file.Редактирование .htaccess при установке WordPress Multisite
  7. Click Edit.How to enable the Multisite Mode
    1. If you have chosen subcatalogues — replace the file’s contents with:
      # BEGIN WordPress
      <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
      RewriteEngine On
      RewriteBase /
      RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
      # add a trailing slash to /wp-admin
      RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?wp-admin$ $1wp-admin/ [R=301,L]
      RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -f [OR]
      RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -d
      RewriteRule ^ - [L]
      RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?(wp-(content|admin|includes).*) $2 [L]
      RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?(.*\.php)$ $2 [L]
      RewriteRule . index.php [L]
      </IfModule>
      # END WordPress
    2. If you have chosen subdomains — replace the file’s contents with:
      # BEGIN WordPress
      <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
      RewriteEngine On
      RewriteBase /
      RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
      # add a trailing slash to /wp-admin
      RewriteRule ^wp-admin$ wp-admin/ [R=301,L]
      RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -f [OR]
      RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -d
      RewriteRule ^ - [L]
      RewriteRule ^(wp-(content|admin|includes).*) $1 [L]
      RewriteRule ^(.*\.php)$ $1 [L]
      RewriteRule . index.php [L]
      </IfModule>
      # END WordPress
  8. Click Save ChangesHow to enable the Multisite Mode
  9. Log out of the WordPress Dashboard and log back in to access the Dashboard of Wordpress Multisite.

To switch between Multisite and usual Wordpress Dashboards:

  1. Hover your cursor above My Sites in the upper left.How to switch between Multisite Dashboard and WordPress Dashboard

    1. Click on your website in the drop-down menu to access your installation of Wordpress.
    2. Click on Network Admin to access Wordpress Multisite Dashboard.

Adding the websites

Now that the Mulitisite Network is up and active, you probably want to add the website to it.

  1. Log into WordPress Multisite Dashboard
  2. Click Sites > Add New
  3. Fill in the fields:
    1. Site Address (URL): Name of the subdomain or the subcatalogue for the website
    2. Site Title: The title of the new website, that is shown in the header.
    3. Site Language: The language of the new website
    4. Admin Email: Contact e-mail address to which the login and the password for the Dashboard will be delivered. If there is no such e-mail in the database, a new user will be created.
  4. Click Add Site.
    Adding a website to the Multisite

After that, you will be able to access this new website just as any other Wordpress website.

Managing theme and plugins for the Multisite Network

You can manage themes and plugins on the networked websites in the same way you’d do in on the usual WordPress websites.

But if you have a plugin installed on the main website, you can automatically install in on all the other networked sites. To do this:

  1. Log into Wordpress Multisite
  2. Click Plugins.Multisite Plugin Management
    1. Click Network Activate under the plugin you want to use on other sites.
    2. Click Network Deactivate under the plugin you want to forbid from using on other sites.

Same thing with themes:

  1. Log into Wordpress Multisite
  2. Click Themes in the sidebar.Managing plugins in the WordPress Multisite Network
    1. Click Network Enable under the theme you want to use on other sites.
    2. Click Network Disable under the theme you want to forbid from using on other sites.

 

After that, administrators of the networked websites will be able to activate themes and plugins on their websites.