WordPress Multisite (MS, formally WordPress MU) is available in every WordPress installation and makes it possible to manage many aspects of multiple WordPress sites from a single admin module. It helps to consolidate the work of many websites into one place, saving time and resources. It is something those managing multiple WordPress sites should consider using, but it is not for everyone.
First, some words of caution
Just because people with many sites can use Multisite does not mean they should. It is not as simple as a regular WordPress installation to run and requires extra hosting power to run properly. There are some risks in running it if things are not done correctly, and those managing sites with very different features and goals probably will not see large enough benefits from using it to justify the added effort.
Advantages of WordPress Multisite
For those managing a number of sites, Multisite for WordPress can offer significant benefits. Master accounts can host an unlimited number of websites that are edited by users or locked by admin. Themes and plugins can be used by all the sites or only selected ones. The savings in time in installing and upkeep is significant for anyone with a number of websites, and there are also the following advantages.
- By eliminating the need for a separate WordPress installation for each site, there are lower overall demands on the server, enabling sites to run faster and more smoothly.
- All sites can be managed from one place, but information and user permissions can be kept separated.
- Updates become easier to keep up with and much faster to install as they only need to be done once for all sites.
- The interface is familiar to those who have used WordPress.
There are extensive plugins to make WordPress Multisite management and security easy tasks for even for a novice webmaster or blogger.
More WordPress options with Multisites
The capabilities are magnified when plugins are added. The neat part about WordPress Multisite is the versatility that is available to webmasters from the top down. Multisite can differentiate between the smaller site admin and the network admin for the entire account. The owner of the WordPress account can decide to make each smaller site or blog as similar or dissimilar as needed. The websites under the umbrella WordPress account can share the same properties, themes and plugins or webmasters can choose to have different properties for each site.
In addition to the ability to isolate or conglomerate various groups of websites under one WordPress account, Multisite allows webmasters to designate different URLs for each website or blog as well. WordPress account holders can designate varied domains or different paths to each website under one master domain. There are also WordPress multisite plugins that help webmasters designate an individual domain for each website under the master account.
Securing WordPress Multisite
Putting all the eggs in one Multisite basket makes reliable security even more important. There are different webmasters can manipulate code, use plugins and applications to enhance the security of the WordPress network and protect the data from hacker attacks. Webmasters can use HTML to protect against spam and limit access to crucial data as well. One of the most important tips for webmasters to do is to establish different accounts for the network admin login and the logins to add content to the sites, keeping all levels of security in mind throughout the process.
Installing WordPress Multisite
WordPress has a guide of all the requirements and procedures for installing Multisite at create a network and for migrating multiple blogs. An extensive guide outside of WordPress can be found here. In addition, there is also the option of hiring freelancers to do the job.
The best WordPress Multisite plugins
There are WordPress plugins that will help webmasters in several different ways. There are site-specific plugins, network plugins and must-use plugins. Webmasters will dictate which use for site-specific plugins; network plugins and must-use plugins will be applicable to all the sites under the master account. Security and speed are two of the most important factors for the success of any blog or website, and the proper use of Multisite can help.
As security has added importance when using Multisite, consider using Exploit Scanner will scan the network of sites for malicious content or questionable files. WordPress security plugins covers more security plugins to keep any site safe.
User Role Editor and Multisite User Management are multisite plugins that help the admin user define and manage roles for people on the multisite. The Domain Mapping plugin allows webmasters to map domains onto subdomains, for example, jibjab.com can host under widget.com. This feature allows individual websites under the master accounts to have unique domains apart from each other. WPMU Theme Info manages the various themes while WPMU Plugin Stats and Multisite Plugin Manager are for managing the plugins throughout the multisite.
Disadvantages of Multisite
Apart from security concerns, the following are some things to watch out for with Multisite:
- Administration is more difficult with different layers to include network administrators and site admin.
- Loading themes and plugins is not a simple as they need to be loaded and activated at different levels.
- Not all plugins will work.
- It is easy to make mistakes and edit the wrong website or to give people the incorrect admin permissions.