How To Install & Setup A WordPress Multisite

Now there are a few things you should consider when deciding to setup a multisite, the key one being do you NEED a Multisite. Multisite is geared at people who have multiple WordPress installations but each of the installations do things slightly different (sort of like if you need an example), but use practically the same plugins and tools (even though they look differently). Another thing to note is that multisite requires a bit more power than a regular WordPress installation, but it is almost as easy to setup.

While you’re considering those points let’s get started.

1. Prepare Your Existing WordPress

I am assuming that you are doing this locally on your test server, but if you’re not I will give you a link to do everything I just covered on a live environment.

The first thing you need to do is backup your WordPress site, database and files (that includes your themes and plugins). The next thing you should do is deactivate all your plugins, (better safe than sorry). If you want WordPress in its own folder do all that before you proceed to the next step.

2. Add the Multisite Definition

For all this black magic to occur you need to enable the Network Setup menu item.

Open up wp-config.php and add the following lines ABOVE where it says /* that's all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */.

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

Refresh your browser and you should see the Network menu item under the Tools panel.

3. Installing the Network

If you had set up your virtual hosts, you would be presented with two options: Sub-directory or Sub-domain

I prefer to use sub-domains, if you are still using your plain localhost url, you would only be able to use the sub-directory option, but the steps are about the same.

A few notes if you don’t understand what I am talking about:

  • Sub-domains — a domain-based network in which on-demand sites use subdomains
  • Sub-directories — a path-based network in which on-demand sites use paths

When you have made your decision fill out the details if they are not filled out automatically and double-check the information.

Hit the Install button

4. Enabling the Network

You should be presented with a screen giving you a few lines of code to add to your wp-config.php and .htaccess files (back these up as well, better safe than sure)

Add the specified lines to your wp-config.php file, preferably directly below where you added the line in step 2.

Add the specified lines to your .htaccess file

If you already have a .htaccess file, replace everything between <IfModule> do not remove these closing brackets, extremely important.

If you don’t have a .htaccess file (remember that you need to show your hidden files), but if you did that already and you don’t have one, create a .htaccess file and add the following and then paste the lines that you received from the Networks panel, (in the blank space)

# BEGIN WordPress

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>


# END WordPress

Once you have done these steps log back in just like you would on a regular WordPress installation.

If you used the sub-domains method then every time you want to create a new site you need to set up your virtual hosts.

5. Network Admin Settings

The mere fact you got back in means you didn’t kill your site install, but you should ensure you see the My Sites panel in the WordPress toolbar. That panel would show you all the sites that are in your network, and which one you’re currently administrating.

Now the administration process of a multisite is a little trickier than that of a regular WordPress site, but after you stumble around for a bit you will get the hang of it.

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