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WordPress Multisite vs Multiple Sites

Are you running a global business offering customized products to individual countries or regions? Do you have multiple brands catering to different customer needs and users? If the answer to these questions is yes, then multiple WordPress websites for your business makes practical sense.

Multiple websites can help you customize your website content uniquely for a particular brand, product, or for geographical region. This enables your potential customers to access relevant content or post queries on the right website.

However, managing multiple websites is not always a walk in a park. It has its share of challenges, such as:

  • Adding and managing users and user roles for all websites.
  • Taking regular data backups across multiple websites.
  • Applying regular updates to WordPress plugins/themes across the websites.
  • Applying security fixes to safeguard multiple websites and reduce downtime.
  • Analyzing online traffic and user engagement across websites.

Additionally, the hosting and maintenance of hundreds of multiple websites can consume a lot of your web server resources and disk space.

The solution to each of these issues is the use of a multisite network that is available for WordPress users. How is WordPress Multisite different and better than multiple WordPress websites?

Read on to learn about the pros and cons of a Multisite WordPress network as compared to running multiple websites.


What is a WordPress Multisite Network?

Typically, if you are planning to run multiple WordPress websites, let’s, for example, take 5 websites, you need to purchase and install a required WordPress tool on each of your 5 websites. With a multisite network, you no longer need to do this.

The Multisite feature allows you to purchase a single WordPress package once and create multiple instances of WordPress of any number of websites. In short, WordPress Multisite allows you to manage and operate multiple WordPress websites using the same WordPress codebase.

Create multiple instances of WordPress for different websites

Image source: https://www.narga.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/WordPress-Multisite-vs-Multiple-WordPress-Installations.png

Additionally, each website in the multisite network can have its own domain or URL and be managed and administered like a single WordPress install.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of using a WordPress Multisite network as compared to using multiple WordPress websites.


WordPress Multisite - Pros

Here are some of the major advantages of using a WordPress multisite network.

Less work with WordPress management

Want to update the WordPress version for all your websites? Or install or update plugins/themes for multiple websites? It’s often challenging to manage multiple WordPress websites to install or manage WordPress plugins/themes, customize website code, and apply regular updates to the core components and plugins/themes.

This would be made easier by setting up a WordPress multisite network. Simply download and install the latest WordPress version or a new plugin/theme for multiple websites just the one time. You can also use the centralized WordPress dashboard to update or remove an installed plugin/theme for all websites from a central location.


Reduces the overall load on your web server

As mentioned earlier, running hundreds of WordPress websites can put much stress on your current web server. Each WordPress website consumes your server bandwidth, thus requiring you to allocate large budgets to upgrade and keep your server performance-optimized.

Additionally, you need a sufficient amount of storage space and server memory just to run each WordPress website. Your server performance will start decreasing as your business keeps scaling up and as you add more websites on the server.

Multisite networks can prevent such scenarios from happening. They are extremely scalable and support an increasing number of WordPress websites without overloading your server resources. This can easily be executed using a single WordPress installation.


No adverse impact on SEO ranking

Every website that is a part of the WordPress multisite network can use their own web domains or URLs. Each of these URLs will be uniquely identifiable by its users. Similarly, search engine crawlers view each of the websites as a separate website and do not evaluate them as part of the same network. Thus, multisite networks have no adverse impact on the SEO ranking of multiple websites.


Easier for backups of multiple websites

Every business or professional website requires regular backups to protect against data losses or breaches. However, performing backups of multiple websites along with safe storage of backup data can be challenging for any website administrator.

WordPress multisite networks remove the hassles of performing backups on multiple websites as they use a single SQL database for all website backups and a single backup folder for all sites. Evaluate and choose one of the top WordPress backups plugins in the market, which supports backups of multisite WordPress networks by offering the same ease of functionalities provided for any single site WordPress installation.

Next, let’s look at some of the disadvantages of using a WordPress multisite network when compared to using multiple WordPress websites.


WordPress Multisite - Cons

There are definitely many disadvantages to WordPress Multisites as well. They are listed below.


Shared resources could cause performance-related issues

Every WordPress website on your multisite network utilizes the same server and database resources. Server-intensive tasks, such as multiple page requests, for example, can use a lot of your server bandwidth, causing overloading and performance issues. Additionally, a multisite WordPress network shares the same database system, which can cause performance issues, particularly in websites with high incoming traffic.


Security-related issues

As all the hosted websites in the multisite network share the same server resources, hackers could easily compromise any one website and then proceed to damage all the remaining websites. Hackers could install a rogue plugin on the multisite network that can potentially break all the hosted websites.

Additionally, all the multisite websites share common users with “admin” privileges. Access to one “admin” user makes it easy for hackers to break into the “admin” user accounts for all websites and access critical backend files. All the multisite websites share common users with administrative privileges

The easiest way to avoid this is to invest in a reliable security plugin like MalCare which supports Multisite WordPress and provides malware scanning, malware removal, and an inbuilt firewall.


Plugin-related issues

Only the super administrator has the right to install new plugins for the entire multisite network. Besides this, many WordPress plugins/themes are not compatible or optimized for multisite networks. Additionally, shared plugins/themes are not feasible on multisite networks as customizing a plugin/theme for one website will reflect the same changes on the other websites.


Website migration-related issues

Migrating a single website from the WordPress multisite network can be a complicated process, as all the websites share the same server and database resources.

For seamless migration, you can use a free migration tool, such as Migrate Guru that is compatible with multisite migration of WordPress websites.


How to Manage a WordPress Multisite

Despite these cons, you should consider WordPress multisite if you are running many WordPress websites, and expect your business to scale further with more websites. WordPress Multisite is also a good option if you are looking to implement the same plugin/theme or website configuration across all your websites. On the other hand, if you are running WordPress websites with different functions, it’s best to opt for multiple installations of the WordPress tool.

In such cases, you will be better off with plugins that enable you to manage multiple WordPress websites from a single centralized dashboard. These can also be used for WordPress multisite networks. For example, ManageWP, BlogVault, and InfiniteWp plugins offer the following useful features:

  • Centralized dashboard facility for managing multiple websites.
  • Ease of use for any WordPress user.
  • Easy management of plugins/themes for multiple websites.
  • Support for regular backups, malware scanners as well as integration with external tools, such as Google Analytics.

That said, if you’re running multiple websites - either independently or using WordPress Multisite, we highly recommend a comprehensive backup strategy.


Here’s what you should look for:

  • Support for automated backups of multisite networks.
  • Incremental backups for faster backups of multiple websites.
  • Offsite storage of the backups on independent storage locations that are outside your website domain.
  • Seamless backups of websites however large they are.
  • The minimum load on your web server resources.

Conclusion

The choice between a multisite network and multiple website management depends on a few factors. I recommend a Multisite WordPress only if you are running hundreds of similar websites with the same functionality and want to manage all of them easily from a single location.

On the other hand, opting for multiple websites on the WordPress platform is only recommended when each website is distinct from each other.

Before selecting the right option, it’s best to evaluate your business needs and determine the right solution after considering each of the pros and cons discussed in this article.


About the author

Akshat Choudhary has always prided himself on being self-taught. Since starting BlogVault, Akshat has transformed it from a side-project into a profitable venture that is scaling new heights in the Indian startup space. He has been an active member of the WordPress community for almost a decade. Akshat has a keen understanding of the areas where users struggle.