WordPress Multisite vs. Multiple Sites – Why Choose Multi Site Over Single Site

In this article, I will tell you the difference between WordPress Multisite and WordPress multiple installations and why you should choose one over the other.

We will look at what you need to consider before setting up a WordPress multi-sites.

But first:

What IS a WordPress Multi-Site?

WordPress Multisite also referred to as or WordPress MultiUser or WPMU is a WordPress feature that allows you to run multiple WordPress sites from within one WordPress installation.

Put differently, WordPress Multi sites is a feature in WordPress that allows owners of many websites to set them up as a network and manage them from one central location.

The network depends on a single installation but runs the many network sites as independent websites.

Why Use WordPress Multisite.

If you are an administrator of several WordPress websites, there many gains in running a WordPress Multisites instead of running them as different multiple independent websites.

  1. Multisite supports anunlimited number of websites. You will be able to create new websites anytime you want and as quickly as possible.
  2. Its a multi-user feature meaning that you can grant specific users access to only the websites you want them to access. Only network administrators will have the capacity to access all websites in the network.
  3. As an administrator, you will Quickly have access to all websites by logging in one time and managing all sites from one WordPress dashboard panel.
  4. You will save time managing themes and plugins for the network. You Only install or update your plugins and themes one time.
  5. You will save server space and other resources since you are running one instance of WordPress installation instead of having disk consuming multiple installations.
  6. Each site in the network can have its own look and feel by assigning different themes to the different sites in the network.
  7. WordPress Multisites is SEO friendly. Your SEO efforts will remain unaffected since search engines recognize each site on WordPress Multisite as an independent website.

Disadvantages of Using WordPress Multisites.

Undoubtedly, there are many advantages of using WordPress multisites if you manage a network of sites. A lot of your admin time will be saved as almost everything is centralized. That said, WordPress Multisite comes with its fair share of cons.

  1. Sharing across network means network users are populated across the network but for you to assign them roles, you will have to depend on third party plugins. They will only be recognized by default as guests on all the sites.
  2. Multisite is a shared environment. There is no way to restrict plugins for use on selected sites in the network.
  3. Just like Plugins, all themes are installed for the entire network. Any changes made to the theme will affect all websites that have activated that theme. You can not edit a theme for one site without affecting all the sites using it.
  4. Some plugins are actually not supported in WordPress Multisite compatible.
  5. Changing web hosts, or removing a single site from Multisite will require a very high level of technical know how compared to moving a separate WordPress installation.
  6. When an attack on one site happens, it could affect the whole network.

Who Should Use WordPress Multisite?

Sometimes you are running websites that focus on almost the same thing with almost similar functionalities. Such websites will typically require similar themes and plugins since they are in related industry. Multisite will help you manage such sites simply and spare you more time to concentrate on other things.

In the someway, if you run several websites and are being challenged with resources to technically administer them then multisites is the best option as you will have much fewer updates and edits to perform compared to multiple installations.

If you run websites that require just a handful of plugins or non then you will have little fear of breaking your network with tons of plugins. One typical example of a multisite network is WordPress.com. It hosts millions of blogs and billions of web pages each and every month, all on one WordPress installation.

Reasons Why You Should Not Use Multisite.

As earlier stated, Multisites are extremely complex to manage in the long run. They require a higher level of technical knowledge when the network grows. The migration of a part of the network or the whole network is also too complicated.

It might be better off to run Multiple installations if the reason for setting up a multisite is one of these:

  1. If you plan to host just a handful of sites on the network, it might not be worth the headache running Multisites. Consider setting up a network only if you plan to host over 20 websites that are almost similar.
  2. WordPress standard installation comes with many ways to organize and sort your content. Its a bad idea to complicate your installation just so you can organize every category by a site on the network.
  3. If you intend to just have a different look and feel for a certain section, you could achieve this in the standard installation using custom post types. This is a wiser choice than multisite.
  4. If you are concerned about the individual security of each of the sites on the network, then multisites is not your right choice. In a network, a security attack on one site in your network will most likely affect all the sites.

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  2. You wrote, “Just like Plugins, all themes are installed for the entire network. Any changes made to the theme will affect all websites. You can not edit a theme for one site without affecting all the sites using it.”

    You also wrote, “One typical example of a multisite network is WordPress.com. It hosts millions of blogs and billions of web pages each and every month, all on one WordPress installation.”

    These two comments conflict with each other.

    If you cannot change the theme of a multisite without changing the theme on all installations, WordPress.com can not be using a multisite installation.

    There are millions of such installations. Each of them uses a different theme. How can they all be based on one WordPress installation?

    Did I understand this correctly?

    1. You Got me absolutely wrong. Yes WordPress.com uses a single installation. What they do is install every theme they want available to the network. Now if they made changes to that theme the changes would affect every site that is using that particular theme. In a multisite network, you can install many themes (Mark the difference between install and activate as used by WordPress). An individual site can then choose which of the available themes they want to ACTIVATE. If the network admin makes changes to let’s say theme A only sites that have activated theme A will see the change but the change is network-wide.

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