How to Install and Setup WordPress Multisite Network

Do you want to set up a WordPress multisite network and install it? WordPress includes the option to create many websites from a single WordPress installation.

Blogs, schools, and organizations that need to host multiple websites but wish to manage them all from one dashboard utilize a WordPress multisite network.

We’ll show you how to correctly install and set up a WordPress multisite network in this article.

Installing and configuring a WordPress multisite network

What is a WordPress Multisite Network, and how does it work?

From a single WordPress installation, you may run and manage Multisite WordPress sites or blogs.

It allows you to quickly establish new sites and manage them all with the same username and password. You can even allow other users to sign up for your domain and create their own blogs.

Advanced options in the WordPress multisite network allow you to modify each website/blog on your network.

Using a WordPress Multisite Network Has Its Advantages

A WordPress multisite network can be more beneficial than managing many standalone WordPress sites in certain scenarios. Some of the benefits of using a WordPress multisite network are as follows:

  1. You can effortlessly administer many sites as the network administrator from a single dashboard.
  2. Each network site can have its own administrator. The site administrators will only be able to manage their own website.
  3. With a single download, you may install and activate plugins/themes for several sites.
  4. You can also handle updates more easily with a multisite network. On a single “master” install, you simply need to update WordPress, plugins, and themes.

Using a WordPress Multisite Network Has Its Drawbacks

Creating a WordPress multisite network isn’t always a good idea when it comes to managing several sites. Here are some of the drawbacks to consider before implementing a multisite network.

  1. The network’s sites all share the same resources. This implies that if your network goes down, so do all of your other websites.
  2. It is difficult for novice users to manage traffic and server resources. If one of your websites receives unexpected traffic, it will have an impact on the entire network.
  3. If one of your websites is hacked, it is likely that all of your network’s websites will be compromised as well.
    On a multisite network, some WordPress plugins may not perform properly.
  4. All web hosting companies do not support the WordPress multisite network, which limits your options. We’ll go over this in further detail later in the article.

What is the purpose of a WordPress multisite network?

You don’t have to start using a multisite network just because you manage many WordPress websites.

Multiple WordPress sites can be managed from a single dashboard using third-party software. Tools like InfiniteWP and iThemes Sync make it easy to manage several WordPress sites from one location without having to switch between them.

Here are some circumstances in which setting up a multisite network is a good idea:

  1. A magazine website with many sections overseen by various teams.
  2. A business website with sub-sites for various divisions and regions.
  3. WordPress multisite can be used for numerous departments, locations, and regions for government or non-profit websites.
  4. You can create your own blog network with multiple subdomains.
  5. Students are allowed to construct their own blogs on school servers by schools and colleges.

WordPress Multisite Network Requirements

A WordPress multisite network uses the same server resources for all of its websites. As a result, the most critical thing you’ll require is good WordPress hosting.

You can definitely get away with shared hosting if you only plan on having a few of websites with modest traffic.

However, when your multisite network grows, you’ll require VPS hosting or a dedicated server owing to the structure of the network.

We recommend Bluehost since they provide shared hosting as well as VPS/Dedicated servers and are an official WordPress hosting partner.

If you’re seeking a different option, SiteGround and WP Engine both offer outstanding WordPress multisite network services.

Selecting a Multisite Network Domain Structure

You can add new sites to a WordPress multisite network by using subdomains or subdirectories.

http://site1.example.com is an example of a subdomain.

http://example.com/site1/ is an example of a sub-directory.

If you choose subdomains, your server will need to be configured with wildcard subdomains. In the next step, we’ll teach you how to do it.

If, on the other hand, you use subdirectories or path-based URLs for your network’s sites, you can skip to the following step.

Creating Subdomains with Wildcards

You’ll need to set up wildcard subdomains for your multisite network if you wish to use subdomains for your multisite network’s websites.

To do so, go to your WordPress hosting account’s cPanel dashboard and log in. After that, go to the ‘Domains’ section and click on ‘Subdomains.’

Creating subdomains with wildcards

Note: Your cPanel dashboard may alter significantly from the screenshot above depending on your web hosting service. This is a snapshot of Bluehost’s cPanel.

On the following page, type * in the subdomain area and choose your main domain from the drop-down option.

Adding a subdomain with a wildcard

The document root will be automatically detected by Cpanel and displayed in the area below. To add your wildcard subdomain, click the ‘Create’ button.

Creating Unique Domains for Each Website

You may also assign various domains to each website in your multisite network using WordPress multisite.

You’ll need to use the domain mapping feature and edit nameserver records in your domain registrar account to set up custom domains.

WordPress sites on a multisite network can have their own custom domains.

Using the Multisite Network Feature in WordPress

Each WordPress installation includes the Multisite Network capability. All you have to do now is install and configure WordPress as usual. After that, all you have to do is turn on the multisite option.

You may also use any existing WordPress site to implement the multisite capability. Don’t forget to make a full backup of your WordPress site before enabling multisite.

To enable Multisite, use an FTP client or the cPanel file manager to connect to your site and update the wp-config.php file.

Add the following code to your wp-config.php file immediately before the /* That’s it, don’t touch anything else! */ line */ line */ line */ line */ line */ line */ line

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/* Multisite */
define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );

When you’re finished, save and upload the wp-config.php file to the server.

The multisite feature on your WordPress site is enabled with this code. You’ll still need to set up the multisite network once it’s enabled.

How to Set Up a WordPress Multisite Network

It’s time to set up your network now that you’ve successfully activated the Multisite Network feature on your WordPress site.

If you’re putting up a multisite network on an existing WordPress site, you’ll need to disable all of the plugins.

Simply go to Plugins > Installed Plugins and check all the boxes. Then click the ‘Apply’ button after selecting ‘Deactivate’ from the ‘Bulk Actions’ selection menu.

Plugins should be turned off.

You may now configure your multisite network by going to Tools » Network Setup.

Setup a WordPress multisite network

You’ll get a notice on the network configuration screen that you require Apache’s mod-rewrite module loaded on your server.

The next step is to tell WordPress what type of domain structure you’ll be using for your network’s sites, such as subdomains or subdirectories.

After that, you must give your network a name and double-check that the email address in the Network admin email is correct.

To proceed, click the install button.

WordPress will now prompt you to add code to your wp-config.php and .htaccess files, respectively.

Code should be added to the wp-config and .htaccess files.

To copy and paste the code in these two files, utilize an FTP client or the cPanel file manager.

To access the multisite network, you’ll need to re-login to your WordPress site.

Configuring Network Settings

It’s time to configure network settings now that you’ve set up the multisite network.

To update network settings, add additional sites, and configure other options, go to the ‘Network Dashboard.’

A flydown popup will display when you hover your mouse over the ‘My Sites’ menu in the admin toolbar. Select Network Admin » Dashboard from the drop-down menu.

Dashboard for network administrators

This will send you to the dashboard for the multisite network. There are new menu items to control the multisite network that you will notice. A “Right Now” dashboard widget will also appear, allowing you to establish a new site and add new users.

Dashboard for the network

To change network settings, go to the admin sidebar and click the ‘Settings’ link.

Set your site title and admin email address as the first option on the network settings screen. The network title and admin email you specified during setup will automatically populate these blanks.

Opening Your Multisite Network for Registrations Network Settings

Opening Your Multisite Network for Registrations Network Settings

The most significant setting in your network setup is probably the ‘Registration Settings’ part of the network settings page.

On the network, both user and site registrations are disabled by default.

You have the option of allowing users to register on your site, allowing existing users to establish new sites, or allowing both user and site registration.

Settings for WordPress multisite registration

If you’re allowing registration on your multisite network, you can tick the box next to the ‘Registration Notification’ option to receive email notifications whenever a new user or site is added.

Check the box next to the ‘Add New Users’ option if you want individual site administrators to be able to add new users to their sites.

Options for registering

You can limit site or user registration to email addresses from certain domains using the Limited Email Registration option. This is especially important if you just want people from your own company to be able to register and establish users or sites.

You can also prevent certain domains from being registered.

New Site Preferences

You can define default options for new sites formed on your multisite network under the ‘New Site Settings section.

In these options, you can change the welcome emails as well as the contents of the first default post, page, and comment.

New site configurations

You can alter these settings at any time as a network administrator.

Your Multisite Network’s Upload Settings

It’s critical that you keep an eye on how your server’s resources are being used. You may limit the total amount of space a site can utilize for uploads under the Upload Settings section.

The default setting is 100 MB, which should be sufficient for at least 100 photo uploads. Depending on how much disk space you have, you can raise or decrease this space.

Configurations to be uploaded

Images, music, video, and pdf files are the default file types for upload. If you like, you can add other file kinds, such as doc, docx, and odt.

After that, you may set a file size limit to prevent users from uploading files that are too huge for the server to handle.

Settings for the Plugin Menu

After that, you can go on to the menu options. On your network sites, it will allow you to enable the administrator menu for the plugins section.

Allow site administrators to see or conceal the plugin's menu.

When this option is enabled, the plugins menu will be visible to the site administrators. They can use their unique sites to activate or deactivate plugins, but they can’t add new ones.

Make sure to click the ‘Save Changes’ button once you’ve completed all of the configuration changes.

Adding New Sites to Your Multisite WordPress Network

Simply select ‘Sites’ from the My Sites » Network Admin menu in the admin toolbar to add a new site to your WordPress multisite network.

Adding new sites to your multisite WordPress network

This will display a list of your existing multisite installation sites. Your principal site is shown as the only site in your WordPress multisite network by default.

To create a new site, go to the top of the page and select the ‘Add New’ option.

Create a new website

You must enter the site’s address on the ‘Add New Site’ page. You just need to type the part of the address that you wish to utilize as a subdomain or subdirectory, not the entire address.

After that, enter a site title and the site administrator’s email address.

Adding additional information to the site

You can use a different admin email address to handle your multisite network than the one you’re currently using.

WordPress will create a new user and send the username and password to the email address you give if it is not already in use by another user.

After you’ve finished, click the ‘Add Site’ button.

Your WordPress multisite network will gain a new site. You will also receive a new site registration email as the network administrator.

If you create a new user, they will receive an email with information on how to change their password and login.

Plugins and Themes for Your Multisite Network

Individual site managers in a multisite network cannot install themes or plugins by themselves by default.

As the network administrator, you can install the necessary plugins and themes so that they are available to all of your network’s sites.

Themes for your multisite network installation

Go to My Sites » Network Admin » Themes to add themes.

Themes that have been installed on your WordPress multisite network

On this page, you’ll find a list of the themes that are currently installed on your WordPress multisite.

By selecting the ‘Network Enable’ option for a theme, you can make it available to other sites. You can also disable a theme by going to the theme’s ‘Network Disable’ link. When the theme is enabled, the Network Disable option will show.

To add a new theme, go to the top of your screen and select the ‘Add New’ option, then install a WordPress theme like you normally would.

With the ‘Network Enable’ option, you may make the new theme available to other sites on your network once it has been installed.

Choosing a theme for your Multisite Network’s default

WordPress will continue to activate the default WordPress theme for each new site after you’ve added a few of themes.

If you wish to make another theme the default theme for new sites, edit your wp-config.php file with the following code.

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// Setting default theme for new sites
define( 'WP_DEFAULT_THEME', 'your-theme' );

Replace your theme with your theme’s name. The name of the theme’s folder, which you can determine by browsing in the /wp-content/themes/ folder, must be used.

Plugin installation for your multisite network

Similarly, you may install plugins on your multisite network by going to My Sites » Network Admin » Plugins and clicking the ‘Network Activate’ link below each plugin.

Plugins that are network activated on a WordPress multisite

Here are a few WordPress plugins that we think every website should have:

  • WPForms – It’s the greatest WordPress contact form plugin, and it lets you easily design stunning forms with a drag-and-drop form builder.
  • Yoast SEO is the most comprehensive WordPress SEO plugin available, and it will assist you in attracting more visitors from search engines.
  • SeedProd – As they work on their website, site administrators may desire to see a coming soon page. They can use SeedProd to create gorgeous coming soon and maintenance mode landing pages.
  • WP Mail SMTP – WP Mail SMTP uses an SMTP server to send important multisite registration and notification emails, which helps you fix WordPress not sending email issues.

Note: If the Plugins Menu option for site admins was previously selected in the ‘Network Settings,’ site admins can now activate or deactivate installed plugins on their own. Plugins cannot be deleted or installed by site administrators on their own.

Multisite Sites: Adding Default Content

WordPress lets you alter certain default content for each site in your multisite network by default. You can add them under the section ‘New site settings’ on the Settings > Network Settings page.

Site defaults have been updated.

You can change the default post, page, and comment content. Replace the default material with something more relevant for your site administrators.

What if you wanted each new site to have additional default content?

WordPress does not allow you to provide additional default content for new sites by default. You’ll need to add custom code to your WordPress multisite if you want to achieve that.

We’re going to construct a new default page for each new site in this example.

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add_action('wpmu_new_blog', 'wpb_create_my_pages', 10, 2);
 
function wpb_create_my_pages($blog_id, $user_id){
  switch_to_blog($blog_id);
 
// create a new page
  $page_id = wp_insert_post(array(
    'post_title'     => 'About',
    'post_name'      => 'about',
    'post_content'   => 'This is an about page. You can use it to introduce yourself to your readers or you can simply delete it.',
    'post_status'    => 'publish',
    'post_author'    => $user_id, // or "1" (super-admin?)
    'post_type'      => 'page',
    'menu_order'     => 1,
    'comment_status' => 'closed',
    'ping_status'    => 'closed',
 ));
  
restore_current_blog();
}

You may use the same code to produce default posts for new sites with minor changes. Take a look at the code below:

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add_action('wpmu_new_blog', 'wpb_create_my_pages', 10, 2);
 
function wpb_create_my_pages($blog_id, $user_id){
  switch_to_blog($blog_id);
 
// create a new page
  $page_id = wp_insert_post(array(
    'post_title'     => 'A sample blog post',
    'post_name'      => 'sample-blog-post',
    'post_content'   => 'This is just another sample blog post. Feel free to delete it.',
    'post_status'    => 'publish',
    'post_author'    => $user_id, // or "1" (super-admin?)
    'post_type'      => 'post',
 ));
  
restore_current_blog();
}

Troubleshooting Multisite WordPress Issues

The most typical problems with WordPress multisite network setup are erroneous wildcard subdomain configuration and domain mapping issues. Before you set up multisite, make sure your web host supports wildcard subdomains.

Other typical concerns and their short remedies are listed below.

Troubleshooting login issues in multisite installations

Another typical issue is that some users are unable to login to the admin part of their sites after adding the appropriate code to the wp-config.php file when using WordPress multisite with sub-directories.

Replace it with a new one to see if it helps.

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define('SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', false);

line in the wp-config.php file with

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define('SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', 'false');

Another problem you can run into is not being able to locate people who signed up for your network but never received the activation email.

WordPress Multisite Network Frequently Asked Questions

Many of our users have inquired about the WordPress multisite network and how to get the most out of it. The most frequently requested questions that we have answered are listed here.

1. Would a multisite network allow me to better administer my sites?

To be honest, the answer is highly dependent on your specific use case.

If your websites are unrelated to one another, for example, a multiple-site management platform like InifiteWP would be a better choice.

WordPress multisite is more efficient if you administer numerous sites for a restaurant chain, university, or online magazine.

2. Does multisite WordPress make my websites load faster?

Once again, it is dependent on a number of things. Better WordPress hosting with ample of server resources will allow multisite to run faster, but individual WordPress sites will also run faster with these resources.

However, traffic spikes on a shared hosting account will increase memory utilization and slow down all of the multisite network’s websites at the same time. See our guide to WordPress performance and speed optimization for more information on how to increase multisite speed.

3. Can a WordPress Multisite Website include an online store?

Yes, an online store can be added to a WordPress multisite network. Most likely, an eCommerce plugin compatible with WordPress multisite, such as WooCommerce, will be used for this.

4. Can I use the ‘x plugin’ on my multisite WordPress installation?

Some WordPress plugins may not work with multisite WordPress. Plugin writers usually disclose it on their websites, so you can avoid downloading a plugin that won’t work with your multisite configuration. If it isn’t specified, however, it is fair to presume that it is multisite compliant.

5. How can I exchange user credentials and responsibilities across several sites in a multisite network?

A user who has registered on one site cannot be added or registered on another site on the same network by default. This is due to the fact that they are already registered in the WordPress database. On other sites, however, they do not have any user role privileges.

To sync users across the network, you can utilize third-party plugins like WP Multisite User Sync. However, you must exercise caution because you may wind up giving someone admin access to a site.

We hope that this post was useful in teaching you how to create and configure a WordPress multisite network.