What is WordPress multisite

Multisite WordPress installation can be your best friend but also your worst enemy. When to use it and when to avoid it?

What is multisite and when it fits

WordPress multiste is a grouping of several (non) separate pages over one WordPress installation. One hosting, one WordPress, multiple sites . The original intention was to enable the creation of blogging platforms, where each user has their own blog with their own theme and content. However, one system (WordPress) would run in the background. To give you an idea, we can imagine our local blogs, e.g. blog. sme.sk, on which each user has their own subdomain user.blog.sme.sk. The wordpress.com service works similarly, where each user has the page page.wordpress.com available.

Same but different
Same, but different … but still same. Source: Giphy.com


The second great example is the university’s website. It may be desirable for the entire site to run on a single system and from a single hosting site. At the same time, however, it is necessary for each faculty to have its own color variant of the šablóny , its own content and, let’s say, its own administrators. See www.stuba.sk and faculty websites.

With the Multisite solution, we keep one WordPress and its plugins alive. We perform updates in one place and at the same time solve one hosting. If each faculty were given its own website, all processes would need to be performed multiple times. Specifically, N times (N-number of sites).

Subdomains / directories but also entire domains

Network URLs may use:

  • subdomains, e.g. A.domena.sk, B.domena.sk
  • directories, e.g. domena.sk/A, domena.sk/B
  • also optional domains domenaA.sk, domenaB.sk

When multisite does not fit

From the lines above, you can get the feeling that Multisite installation is a suitable solution for managing all your sites. This is especially the case with the domain mapping solution!

For practical reasons, this is the worst thing you can do. All sites share functionality and hosting capacity. Editing a topic or plug-in will change all the sites on the network, and a problem on one will almost certainly fix it. I recommend using built-in solutions to manage multiple sites. Let’s say Jetpack Site Management .

Multisite installation is also (mostly) not suitable for sorting content within a single site. Personally, I set aside a blog from my company website and it was one of the worse decisions 🙂

Changes compared to regular installations

Jano has long been involved in creating a network of WordPress sites. It’s important to know that every site installation can be turned into a network. However, this process is to some extent irreversible . Irreversible because there are changes in the background that are very difficult to undo. The structure of the database , files on FTP , etc. will change. In the case of the database, the complexity is really great. 100 pages in a multistory creates 816 tables in a database, 1000 pages 8016 tables. The formula is (10 + 6 + (N * 8)), where N is the number of pages. WordPress.com with about 95 million pages has about 296,000,000 tables .

Zmeny v štruktúre súborov pri multisite inštalácii
The changes mainly concern the uploads folder. Each page has its own subfolder. Source: wpengine.com .
Zmeny v databáze pri multisite inštalácii WordPress
Multisite adds 6 new tables, each page a lot more. Source: wpengine.com .

Network installation of WordPress is a bit more demanding on hosting. I definitely recommend network operation on WP-friendly hosting. For example, the one from WebSupport can playfully deal with it. Larger (and visited) sites and networks already belong to managed solutions and own servers. Local or global like wpengine.com .

Most of the most used plugins understand multisite . In any case, it is necessary to take into account certain differences. Some plugins get new settings in new places in the network installation. One setting is available in the network administration, the other in the administration of a specific page (common place). It takes more time.

Setting up Yoast SEO in a multisite installation
New Yoast SEO settings in a multisite installation.

In a network installation of WordPress, plugins are active / inactive for the entire network . Therefore, if we need to run an e-shop via WooCommerce on one page, the plugin will be automatically available on other pages as well . Whether it is desirable or undesirable already depends on your needs and preferences.

Activation of plugins in a multisite installation

The topics are similar. However, unlike plugins, activating them on the network will only make them available on other sites. Activation is already in the hands of the administrator of the specific site.

However, for a multisite installation, I would definitely recommend using a child theme . Using the One-click Child Theme plugin, create a child theme for each page separately directly through the administration. Otherwise, your custom šablóny will appear on every page in the network that will actively use the topic. Whether it is desirable or undesirable, I will leave it to you again.

The last major change is a new level of users . Multisite adds a new top levelsuper administrator. A user at this level has access to manage the entire network. A regular administrator only accesses your site on the network.

Prehľad používateľov

Hosting installation

In the WebSupport knowledge base, I wrote a detailed tutorial: WordPress multisite hosting . With its help you can install all WordPress multisite modes. Even domain mapping .

It pays to know

These are the most important points when installing a WordPress multisite. The rest is more or less the same and shouldn’t surprise you in any serious way.

Have you tried WordPress multisite or vice versa, were you interested and would you like to try it? Please direct your questions to the comments;)


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