This website uses cookies

Our website, platform and/or any sub domains use cookies to understand how you use our services, and to improve both your experience and our marketing relevance.

WordPress 5.0 is out. Test all the great new features before upgrading your Live website. Read How!

How to Setup WordPress Multisite in Simple Steps

Updated on  19th November

7 Min Read
WordPress Multisite
Reading Time: 7 minutes

WordPress is the most popular CMS today that powers almost 60% of the global CMS-driven websites. The most important reason behind this significant number is the ease and simplicity of managing WordPress powered websites.

Since one WordPress website is good, two or more should be even better.

Not necessarily!

Curiously, as the number of WordPress websites increases, the management gets difficult. In fact, just logging into multiple dashboards become a hassle on regular basis. Fortunately, WordPress has a great solution for managing multiple WordPress websites from a single location – WordPress Multisite.

What is WordPress Multisite?

Surprisingly, WordPress Multisite is not a new feature. It actually rolled out with WordPress 3.0. Initially, the feature doesn’t receive a warm response because the user base of WordPress was not large enough. However, as WordPress gained popularity, the Multisite feature became a user favorite.

It is perhaps the first WordPress feature that created its own niche and many WordPress developers found Multisite a versatile feature that formed the basis of many WordPress projects.

This feature is more suitable for large websites with multiple subdomains, internal blogs, and internally connected subsites. Administrators can easily give access to user accounts without worrying about interference with the administration of the overall website.

WordPress Multisite setup saves a lot of time for everyone (particularly the admins) and eases the overall operations of managing large websites. The process is very secure offers a single location for managing all WordPress websites within the network. An important benefit of WordPress Multisite is an efficient distribution of access to all the stakeholders from a single WordPress installation.

How WordPress Multisite Works?

With WordPress Multisite, you can manage hundreds of websites from a single location. The distribution is implemented as a network under a single domain. You can add subdomains or subdirectories by adding code to wp-config.php and WordPress .htaccess file.

Who Needs WordPress Multisite?

WordPress Multisite setup can be used for business websites. Already, this is a popular option for developing multi-user and multi-subsite networks for educational institutions, ecommerce stores, hospitality industry, the entertainment industry, and development agencies.

WordPress Multisite lets you manage subsites that can be individually managed by the the assigned team.

Although WordPress Multisite setup is a great feature, it is important to understand your current requirements, as in some cases, it might be beneficial to avoid multisite. To better understand this, let’s look at some pros and cons of using a WordPress Multisite setup.

Pros of WordPress Multisite

  • Easy to manage large websites with multiple subdomains, internal sites and client sites.
  • Ideal for local businesses with multiple subsites managed by different teams.
  • Useful for businesses like banks with multiple branches, schools with distributed campuses, etc.
  • Teams can work on their specific sites independently while the overall control remains with the administrator.

Cons of WordPress Multisite

  • Site administrators cannot install plugins and themes in a WordPress Multisite setup. Only Network administrator has the rights to change plugins and themes on the subsites.
  • Custom changes in the network theme are applied across the websites. This can be prevented through a Multisite Custom CSS plugin which allows subsites to use their custom CSS.
  • Removing or migrating a site within the Multisite network is a real challenge.
  • The cost of overall hosting of the Multisite setup could be significant.
  • Security issues on one site can jeopardize the entire Multisite network.

How to Set up WordPress Multisite on Cloudways?

Sign up for 3-day free trial or log in to your Cloudways account. Select WordPress Multisite from the drop-down menu. Name your app, server, and project. Select a cloud infrastructure provider, server size and data center location nearest to your target audience. Finally, click the Launch Server button.

Wait for a few minutes while your server is launched with WordPress Multisite.

Once it is launched, navigate to Applications from the top menu bar, and then to Application Management → Access Details → Admin Panel for login credentials.

Now go to WordPress Dashboard → Tools → Network Setup.

Network Setup on WordPress Multisite

Now you have to choose between subdomains and sub-directories to set up a WordPress multisite network. You will also need to set the network title and network admin email. Be very sure about this step because you cannot change it later on.

Note: During the setup, you may be asked to deactivate all the plugins to proceed further.

Subdomain - Subdirectories in WordPress Multisite

You have to use any FTP solution such as FileZilla to back up the wp-config.php and .htaccess files. You will get the directions from the WordPress backend about the placement of code that you get after installing WordPress Multisite.

WP-Config and htaccess for WordPress Multisite

After adding the code to the files, you are done with the setup of WordPress Multisite network on the blazing fast cloud hosting at Cloudways. Now, again log in to your WordPress admin panel.

Add Sites to WordPress Multisite Network

From the top menu bar of WordPress admin panel, navigate to My Sites -> Network Admin -> Sites.

Managing Sites on WordPress Multisite

Here you will find the default/main site of the network that we have launched previously. To add a new site to WordPress Multisite network, click on the Add New button.

Adding New Site in WordPress Multisite

Fill all the fields (Site address is the subdomain of your main domain).

Add New Site in WordPress Multisite

By using the above add new button, you can add as many sites you want. Once again, get back to all sites by navigating from My Sites -> Network Admin -> Sites.

Sites Setting in WordPress Multisite

You can see that the list include the website(s) you added earlier.

Listed Sites in WordPress Multisite

Unable to Access Site?

Even if everything is configured properly but you are still unable to access your website, it’s probably because the subdomain of your website is not recognized by the WordPress application installed on Cloudways.

To fix that, you need to associate the domain name with your WordPress Multisite.

Navigate to Domain Management of your Multisite Network.

Login to your domain registrar, and add TWO A records one for the main domain and the other for all sub-domains. The host should be @ and * respectively and the value will be the server IP address.

WordPress Multisite Subdomains

Note: If you are not sure, how to add a record on your respective domain registrar, here is how to point your domain.

Once the DNS propagation is complete. Visit the site with newly pointed domain and login to your WordPress admin dashboard. Navigate to My Sites -> Network Admin -> Sites.

All sites will be listed here with appropriate domain names.

WordPress Multisite

Add Subdomains in Domain Management Tab

The next step is notifying the WordPress Multisite application about subdomains. Go back to Cloudways Platform and navigate to Domain Management tab of the respective application and add the subdomain.

And you are done! Now, visit your newly added WordPress website.

Note: It will take a few minutes for everything to propagate properly.

Mapping Custom Domain to a Subsite

Using a single domain for all the subsites may not always the situation with Multisite Network. Mapping a custom domain name lets the subsite uses its own domain rather than the extension (something like site1.domain.com).

In order to map a custom domain, log in to your WordPress Dashboard and navigate to Site → All Sites.

Go to the Edit options of the subsite and replace the site URL with the domain. After that, click the Save Changes button, and go back to Cloudways Platform → Application Management.

Navigate to Domain Management, add the domain under Additional Domains section. Click the Save Changes button, and propagate the domain by visiting your domain registrar site.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, setting up WordPress Multisite Network is easy and whether it is a good fit in your case. Another important thing that I wanted to highlight is the ease with which you can set up and manage WordPress Multisite on Cloudways Platform.

Add your websites to Multisite network hosted on Cloudways, and tell us in the comments below about the experience.

[Read here: Knowledge Base for WordPress Multisite]

Share your opinion in the comment section. COMMENT NOW

Mustaasam Saleem

Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WordPress Hosting Platform, where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music. You can email him at mustaasam.saleem@cloudways.com

Be the first to check out WordPress 5.0

Use our Staging feature before upgrading your website to WordPress 5.0.

Get Our Newsletter
Be the first to get the latest updates and tutorials.

THERE’S MORE TO READ.