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Single Vs Multisite

I recently had the opportunity to help out with a colleague’s WordPress multisite setup. It brought back all of my previous experiences with WordPress networks. If you are trying to make the decision between single or multisite, hopefully my experience can help you.

Let’s start with the CONS:

I always like to start with the cons because you get to finish with happy thoughts.

Multisite:

  1. Sometimes a challenge to get up and running:
    1. WordPress will spit out a configuration, but it wont necessarily be accurate
    2. You have to configure .htaccess, web.config, wp-config, which are not always straight forward
    3. You server requirements are double of a single install
    4. Documentation for troubleshooting lacks at best
  2. All sites will run slower:
    1. Each site is pulled from the same database and uses the same plugins
    2. There are extra redirects taking place to serve up the correct site
    3. I noticed a 5-10% speed decrease with each site installed
  3. Management can be confusing:
    1. There are mulitple dashboards
    2. Plugins have extra options and sometimes additional requirements to work
    3. Some things are setup network wide while others are site specific
    4. Managing credentials is more complicated

Single Site:

  1. Additional long term overhead
    1. Each time you want to add a site you must do a full install
    2. Each site has to be managed separately
    3. If you need to add a user or change a password you must do it on each needed install
    4. You have to install a new plugin on every site individually
  2. Harder to manage:
    1. You may have separate logins on each site to keep track of
    2. Each site requires their own domain where multisite is optional to use a sub directory
    3. A lot more site information to keep track of
    4. Running a server without a managment GUI like Cpanel or Plesk can be a daunting task

Now that I have given you the Debbie Downer side of things, Let’s look at the Pros of both options

 

The Pros:

 

Multisite:

  1. You only have to set the site up on the server once
  2. You get to mange everything from one spot
  3. You can share plugins between sites
  4. You can share themes between sites
  5. If you choose, you only have to manage one domain
  6. One login for multiple sites
  7. You can offer your clients the ability to offer their clients sites

 

Single Site:

  1. Your sites will run faster
  2. You have separation for more control over settings and security
  3. Easier to setup (most of the time)
  4. Less server requirements
  5. More portable
  6. Can give out full admin access without compromising other sites
  7. Better plugin support

 

As you can see from the pros and cons, either way has about equal benefits.

From my experience what it really comes down to is this question:

Do you have a geek available to support your sites? Whether this is managed hosting, or a friend or colleague, having someone available who knows what they are doing will change the whole experience.

If the answer is no:

In a lot of ways it makes more sense to use a multisite install. You only have to find someone to help you setup the WordPress install once, you only need one server, you may not have to figure out how to manage a bunch of domains and DNS records, and when you become familiar with the admin adding new sites is no problem.

 

If the answer is yes:

(disclaimer: I am a Geek who manages WordPress installs and prefer this method)

It makes a lot of sense to use single site installs. Your sites will run faster, you can spreed them out across multiple servers, your plugins will work more often, installs are a snap, and you can fine tune everything from site to site.

 

THE END

 

1 Comment
  • Gail Lipe on May 17, 2013

    This makes sense, even to a non-geek like me!

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