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How to Manage a WordPress Multisite | Step‐by‐step guide

In this simple step‐by‐step guide, you’ll learn how to manage a WordPress multisite. Collective networks are a great option for those wanting to manage separate websites from one dashboard. Multisite networks are used by corporations, schools, universities, news outlets, online businesses, and more.

You can even create your own blogging platform (a network of blogs) on a single WordPress multisite installation. For example, Harvard University has a WordPress multisite network called Harvard Blogs. And as such, it allows anyone with a harvard.edu email address to create their own blog.

How to Manage a WordPress Multisite

In addition, you can create and manage a WordPress multisite network for yourself that only you have access to. Not forgetting, you could add other users who can create their own websites inside your network. But, limit them from accessing more powerful WordPress features.

It’s important to note, that a WordPress multisite is only available on growth, scale, and dedicated hosting plans. And therefore, a multisite cannot be added to startup plans. So, what is it? But, before that, you can see some dedicated hosting plans to consider for your site.

What is WordPress Multisite?

A WordPress Multisite is a type of installation that allows you to create and manage a network of multiple websites from a single WordPress dashboard. While letting you easily make changes and keep all of your websites updated from one place.

With that in mind, bloggers can publish blog posts on their own sites. But, only the owner of the multisite, called the “super admin”, can install WordPress Plugins. Or even make other sitewide changes. This network shares a file system, database, and are typically variations of the same domain.

There are two types of WordPress multisite:
  1. subdomain (EX: site.domain.com) and
  2. subdirectory (EX: domain.com/site).

Admins can also map custom domains to any of their existing subsites. But, What are the Differences between WordPress Installation and WordPress Multisite?

The Key features that apply to a multisite are
  • User roles: with WordPress multisite, you get a new network-admin role,
  • Access to themes and plugins: only the network admin can access, install, and change them,
  • Admin screens: Multisite adds new screens to help you monitor the screen,
  • Media storage: Multisite adds additional folders for each new site’s uploads,
  • Data storage: Multisite creates extra databases for specific new sites and data for the entire network of sites.

That said, before creating your multisite installation, you should consider the size of your network. You should also compare the prices and features of the top WordPress hosting providers. And be that as it may, if you only plan to have a few websites in your network, then a shared hosting account is a good choice.

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But, if you are planning on having a large WordPress multisite network, then you might consider a few key aspects. Such as choosing between VPS hostingmanaged WordPress hosting, or a dedicated server for your hosting needs.

In that case, I highly recommend using web hosts such as Bluehost or SiteGround. Simply, because they offer several hosting plans tailored to meet every level of hosting. And they’re both officially recognized by WordPress.

How to Manage a WordPress Multisite

First, in order to manage a WordPress multisite, it’s clear to note that it includes a new user level called ‘Superadmin.’ Whereby, a ‘WP-Admin‘ can have access to one or several subsites in the network. All of which are assigned by a ‘Super Admin.’

Secondly, a Super Admin will have access to every site within the network by default. As well as the ‘Network Admin Settings.’ However, most multisite network-wide changes are done through the Network Admin. Like installing a new theme or plugins.

To get to the Network Admin:
  1. Log in to any site you want to manage a WordPress multisite network on, but, with a Super Admin level user,
  2. Click My Sites at the top left
Managing a Multisite

Please note, if you do not see My Sites, then you’re not logged in as a Super Admin level user. Or your multisite network is not properly configured.

In a multisite, the database will be shared but there will be a numbered subset of tables for each subsite. Individual subsites can have their own users, plugins, and themes enabled. Specifically, for them to work well due to these separate, numbered tables.

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Also, keep in mind, WordPress Plugins, and WordPress Themes can only be installed or uninstalled from the Network Admin by Super Admin level users.

And in addition to that, multisite will use the same directory for plugins and themes within the wp-content folder. Plugins and themes can then be set to Network Enable or Network Activate by a Super Admin.

  • Network Enable  — plugins or themes can be turned on or off.
  • Network Active — the plugins or themes are forced as active for all subsites.

There’s also the option of manually converting to a multisite (if you create a network). But, be aware that if your account is not enabled for multisite your subsites will not function as expected, if at all. That’s why it’s always best to convert using the automated process. So, how do I convert a WordPress site to a multisite?

How to Convert to Multisite: 
  1. Log in to the User Portal,
  2. Click the Unique Environment name to convert,
  3. Select Utilities,
  4. Under Multisite, select Convert to Multisite,
  5. Select your multisite type and click Convert Environment.

Would you like to know more about the subdomain and subdirectory network?

A sub-domain network is an example of site1.example.com, site2.example.com, etc. While a sub-directory network is an example.com/site1, example.com/site2, etc.

But, how do I convert a WordPress multisite to a single site? You can follow the simple steps below if you wish to convert a multisite back to a single site.

How to Convert a Multisite to a Single site: 
  1. Log in to the User Portal,
  2. Click the Unique Environment name to convert,
  3. Select Utilities,
  4. Under Multisite, select Convert to Single Site,
  5. Select your database option and click Disable Multisite

Would you like to delete multisite/subsite database tables?

The delete tables option — lets you delete any database tables for subsites you’ve added to this network. While at the same time, the keep tables option — lets you keep any database tables for subsites you’ve added to this network.

When to Use a Multisite

If you have worked with websites for quite a while with WordPress, you may have developed the need to have more than one website.

You are also probably wondering whether WordPress multisite setup is possible to run them on one single installation, especially if they have plenty in common. In order to solve your problems, you’ll need to manage a WordPress multisite under one roof.

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Now that with WordPress Multisite, you can create a network on your WordPress installation. So that you can run as many sites as you want on the network.

WordPress Multisite will save you time, space, and effort, and will make site management efficient and less troublesome for you.

Multisite is the perfect solution for you if you:
  • would like to install the same plugins for every site you own
  • have used a framework theme as a parent theme for more than one of your sites
  • want to develop multiple websites for the same company with varying content but the same branding and structure.
  • have spent long periods of time updating each site independently while you could have spent that time managing the sites or developing new ones.

Having said that, there are several other reasons you may want to use a multisite. For instance, all sites within the Multisite network share the same WordPress core files, themes, and plugins.

Meaning updates only have to happen once each time. Rather than logging into several individual sites.

When not to Use a Multisite

Apart from the reasons stated above, you’ll be able to easily manage all the subdomains of your root domain in one central dashboard too. But, there are also reasons why you should choose to not use a Multisite.

Do not use a multisite if:
  • Unsure a multisite would be a good fit for your needs. When in doubt, stick with a single site.
  • You manage multiple unrelated sites that do not use the same theme, plugins, or design scheme.
  • Only a single site is available. Or if each of your sites has a strong level of customization.
  • Each of your sites uses the same theme, but with different additions to custom functions.
  • You have not added the multisite add-on to your Growth or Scale plan, etc.

Before I conclude, while hosting with WP Engine (see their pricing plans), all accounts have access to Let’s Encrypt certificates. All this happens at no extra charge and for as many domains as needed.

Read Also: How to Change Multisite Primary Domain

But, installing an SSL requires the subdomain or custom domain must be added to the User Portal and DNS be pointed to WP Engine. If you would like to have all subdomains automatically secured, a wildcard SSL for your Primary Domain would be the best option.

Finally, if you’ll need more help in this topic or other related blog articles, please feel free to Contact Us or even share your questions in the comments section. And also, don’t forget to donate in order to support all our service solutions, online research work, and other projects.

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