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How to Set Up a WordPress Multisite Network

Posted on 6.08.2016

:: By Jack Danielson, Satellite Broadband ISP ::


'Multisite' is a distinctive feature that sets WordPress apart from the other CMS platforms available in the market. This feature was introduced in 2010, when WordPress 3.0 was released by the WordPress Community. Since then, the task of creating and managing multiple websites on a single server installation has become a lot straight forward.

In a multisite network, one set of WordPress core files powers a number of websites hosted on the same server. It allows you to install WordPress just once, enable the multisite feature and create multiple separate blogs from within the WordPress dashboard. In other words, Multisite lets you create a network of websites and manage them all from a single backend interface.

Benefits of WordPress Multisite Network:

1. Convenient Administration:

As the network admin, you can easily administer multiple sites from a single dashboard. You need not have to remember several usernames and passwords and login to each of the websites separately in order to manage them.

2. Time Efficient:

A multisite setup can save you significant amount of time as you are able to do all website management activities from a single interface. Upgrading to a new version of WordPress, installing new themes and plugins, setting up .htaccess rules or making changes to the configuration files – such repetitive tasks can be performed just once and all the websites within the network will automatically replicate the changes.

3. Distributed Work Load:

If need be, each site can have its own admin with the required privileges to manage only the intended website. As a network admin, you will have the ultimate power to allow or deny specific permissions to the individual site admins.

4. Server Resource Efficient

As not only the core WordPress files, but also the themes and plugins are installed just once and shared between the websites, a multisite environment saves a lot of server disk space. Yes, you heard that right. All of your themes and plugins are stored just at a single place, no matter how many sites you use them on. Moreover, the processing power and primary memory requirement are lesser for multisite networks compared to traditional model of hosting different WordPress installations on a single server.

Sound interesting? Would you like to take the multisite route? Let's find out how to set up a multisite network of your own with the help of the below given tutorial.

Tutorial – How to Set Up a WordPress Multisite Network

STEP 1: Enable 'Multisite' Feature

WordPress 3.0 or any later version comes with pre-integrated 'multisite' feature. You can simply install and set up WordPress as you would normally do and multisite feature would automatically get added to your installation folder. However, as it remains inactive by default, all you need to do is to activate it from your hosting admin panel.

Log in to your server control panel and browse to the wp-config.php file using any FTP client or File Manager utility. Open the file with a text editor such as Notepad and append the below given code snippet right before the last line.

define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );

Save the file in the same location. Now your WordPress website is ready to support the multisite feature.

STEP 2: Deactivate Plugins

Before proceeding any further, deactivate all the plugins installed on your WordPress dashboard. This is a precautionary measure to avoid any potential conflicts between the multisite setup and plugin files.

STEP 3: Network Setup

After enabling 'multisite' via wp-config.php file and disabling your active plugins, navigate to the 'Tools' menu on your WordPress dashboard. Do you see a new option that reads - 'Network Setup'? If yes, then it signifies that you have enabled the feature correctly. Click to open the Network Setup interface.

STEP 4: Choose a Domain Structure

You can have two types of domain structures on a multisite network. The first one is sub-domain structure (www.site1.yourdomain.com), while the second option is to create sub-directories (www.yourdomain.com/site1). If you choose the former, then you need to configure wildcard subdomains on your server, while the second type does not require you to do any additional configuration. Choose your preferred option and proceed to the next step.

STEP 5: Creating Wildcard Subdomains

This step is only required if you have selected subdomains over sub-directories. Log in to your control panel and navigate to 'Subdomains' listed under the 'Domains' section. Enter asterisk (*) symbol in the Subdomain input field and select your domain name from the adjacent drop-down list. Now click on the 'Create' button to add your wildcard subdomain.

STEP 6: Network Installation

Right below the selection of domain structure in the 'Network Setup' interface (Step 4), you need to provide a name for your multisite network and provide the email address of the Network Admin. Finally, click on the 'Install' button to continue.

STEP 7: Edit wp-Config.php and .htaccess Files

On the next screen, you will be provided with a code snippet to be added to your wp-config and htaccess files. You can make use of an FTP client program to copy+paste the code snippets. Just copy the codes, go to your hosting account, open both the files, paste the codes and save the changes. Ensure that you are inserting the codes before the closing */ symbol.

STEP 8: Configure Network Settings

Once you log in back to your WordPress admin panel, you will notice a few new menu items for managing your multisite network. Hover your mouse over the 'My Sites' menu on top of the dashboard and select 'Network Admin' >> 'Dashboard' option from the drop-down menu. Now navigate to the 'Settings' link in the admin sidebar to configure your multisite network. You need to configure the below mentioned settings on this interface:

1. Registration Settings: Here you need to specify your choice for new user registrations. You can enable your site for user registration, allow existing users to create new sites, or allow both new user and website registration. You can also add new users and provide them required privileges to manage particular sections of your network of websites. You may also specify the email addresses that should not be allowed to create user accounts in your multisite network.

2. New Site Settings: This is where you configure options for the new sites created on your network. The configuration options include welcome email, content of the first post, page and comment.

3. Upload Settings: As the Super Admin, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on the server resource usage and this feature lets you control the hard disk usage of the entire network effectively.

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