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Thread: WordPress Multi-site vs Many Installs of WordPress

  1. #1
    Senior Member Web Res's Avatar
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    WordPress Multi-site vs Many Installs of WordPress

    I have decided to experiment with wordpress Multisite to see how it works. I've got it installed with 2 unique domain names to start and more to follow. I seem to be able to have unique templates, plug-ins and all the other stuff that makes a website. From the outside, there is no visible connection between these websites that I can see. I am using a plug in called wordpress MU Domain Mapping as it seems to enhance the control.

    The advantage would appear to be a smaller footprint on the server for multiple websites, a single update to manage version upgrades of wordpress and Plug-ins, maybe a single back up to manage multiple websites and perhaps a slightly faster way to manage existing sites and roll out new sites.

    Part of what got me started on this was having about 20 unused domain names and wanting to do something with them. Something that might return a little profit and not take too much effort. These will all be websites owned by me. I'll still make client websites with a unique install.

    I searched WebPro for comments about using Multi Site (wordpress MU), but couldn't get the search results to be specific enough to yield anything useful. I was hoping to get some info from you all about the pro's and con's of this style of website building.

    Comments on things like SEO, site speed, flaky errors, security, issues with plugins would all be appreciated. I've started with these 2 websites: http://byronbayholidayguide.com and http://goldcoastholidayguide.com So far they are mostly empty vessels. Overtime, I'll be changing the templates and flashing out the content - for now I'm just trying to understand limitations before I invest too much time and effort.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.
    Last edited by Web Res; 03-22-2012 at 07:32 PM. Reason: typo

  2. #2
    Administrator rah's Avatar
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    I've messed with Wordpress Multisite a few times. There are a few gotcha's that I've noticed:

    1) Posts can't have the same url.
    (What I mean is that if both sites have an about page, say "/about". One of the two will get /about-2 and you can't change that.)

    2) If you don't turn off the part where you can have one login for all sites, every time you load a page while logged in Wordpress always sends a request to the main site.
    (Not really a big issue, but can add seconds to a page load.)

    2a) I also had issues with logging out.
    (It could have just been something I did, but from time to time the log out function wouldn't work. It always saw me as logged in.)

    3) Not all plugins function correctly on a multisite install. You'll have to make sure to read the read me on them to see if they are.
    (I found this one the hard way.)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Web Res's Avatar
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    Thanks Rah, That is what I am guessing - there will be subtle things that make the Multi version act strangely, but my guess is that I'll probably have similar types of websites with similar plug ins - so once I get my base set running it will all be fine. It's good to know to watch out for the sef urls.

    Did you find that there were any speed issues, or that after a number of websites the systems started to groan under the strain?

    My thoughts are to make maybe 15 or 20 websites - each with around 12 pages and then update them from time to time with posts. Their main raison d'etre will be to funnel people to affiliate links (yes, not the most glorious goal).

  4. #4
    Administrator rah's Avatar
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    I've never tried it with that many sites before, but unless they are high traffic I would say you would be fine. If you get to that point, there are plenty of site cache plugins you can use that load static html files instead of hitting the wordpress db on every page load.

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  6. #5
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    Great post and reply. I am looking to do a similar thing with a half dozen sites under one umbrella WP install on my VPS. One site that I'll need to keep a close eye on has about 250 static pages and is a PR3.
    I posted an earlier thread with questions on moving it to a new domain name and how to plan for in the WP multisite world and best account for SEO.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Optic's Avatar
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    I've gone back and forth with this on my own sites.

    For performance, and maintaining more control and stability, conclusion I've come to is that Multisite is great for actual sites that will have many blogs, or a walled garden type of hosted service like wordpress.com.

    For building multiple sites, I think the best way is to create a Git repo of your ideal installation, and install them each separately. The files don't take up that much space on your server, and git can make it easy to maintain a collection of plugins you want available on the sites.

    One reason this is superior, is that you can have your custom theme and plugin files, or each site in separate repositories for development in a staging area or locally. I actually keep the content folder outside of the wordpress core folder to increase this separation and allow me to keep a repo for WP, Themes, Plugins, MU-Plugins and the root itself which contains the configuration files.

    To go further with automation, you can write some bash scripts or get into using Capistrano to manage deployments. I have not personally learned how to use it yet, but it's on my list . .
    Last edited by Optic; 05-04-2012 at 04:07 PM.
    I build custom WordPress themes and plugins with love, and occasionally post on Hidden Content about related topics. Hidden Content .

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