Managing Multiple WordPress Sites on a Network

Posted on May 2, 2023 at 8:28 am

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WordPress is a popular online platform that serves as the foundation for millions of websites around the world. However, managing multiple WordPress sites can become a time-consuming and resource-intensive task, especially if you have a large network of sites to manage. This is where WordPress Multisite comes in!

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to managing multiple WordPress sites on a network. We will cover important topics such as setting up a WordPress Multisite network, creating new sites and managing existing ones, handling user roles and permissions across sites, managing site content and updates, customizing themes and plugins, setting up and managing site backups and security, and troubleshooting common issues with network sites.

Setting up a WordPress Multisite network allows you to manage multiple WordPress sites with ease, saving you valuable time and resources. By creating a network, you can manage multiple sites from a single dashboard and streamline the process of updating content, themes, and plugins across your network.

In this article, we will discuss how to leverage the power of WordPress Multisite to build and manage your network of sites effectively. We’ll explore the different types of sites you can create, how to create and manage multiple sites, and how to customize themes and plugins for your entire network, or just specific sites.

Whether you are managing a personal blog, a corporate website, or a network of sites for clients, our guide will provide you with tips and techniques to help you streamline your workflow and manage your network with ease. So, let’s dive in and discover the world of WordPress Multisite!

Setting up a WordPress Multisite Network

A WordPress Multisite network allows you to manage multiple websites from a single WordPress installation. With a few simple steps, you can set up your own WordPress Multisite network and streamline your website management process.

Preparing for Multisite Installation

Before setting up a WordPress Multisite network, it’s essential to ensure your hosting provider meets the necessary requirements. Here is a checklist of things you’ll need to set up your WordPress Multisite network:

  • Your hosting provider must support WordPress Multisite
  • A dedicated IP address
  • Access to your server's wp-config.php file
  • A good understanding of WordPress and website management

Creating a Multisite Network

  1. Create a Backup: It’s always important to create a backup of your website before making any significant changes. This way, you can restore your site to the previous version if anything goes wrong during the setup process.
  2. Edit wp-config.php: Open the wp-config.php file and add the following code:
    <code>/* Multisite */
    define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );</code>
  3. Install Multisite Network: After saving the changes to the wp-config.php file, log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to Tools > Network Setup. Here, you can configure your network settings, such as the network title and administrator email address.
  4. Activate Network: After configuring the network settings, WordPress will provide you with a set of code to add to your wp-config.php and .htaccess files. Add the code provided to both of the files to activate your network.


Setting up a WordPress Multisite network offers you a great way to manage multiple websites from a single installation. However, it’s important to ensure your hosting provider meets the necessary requirements before starting the process. Utilize the steps outlined above to create your WordPress Multisite network successfully.

Creating New Sites and Managing Existing Ones

Once you have set up a WordPress multisite network, you may want to create new sites and manage existing ones. With a multisite network, you can easily create new sites with just a few clicks, and you can also manage all your sites from one central location.

Creating New Sites

To create a new site, log in to your network admin dashboard and click on the "Sites" menu. From there, click on the "Add New" button to bring up the new site creation screen.

Fill in the required information for the new site, such as the site's title, address, and main user. Choose whether you want the site to be public or private, and then click on the "Add Site" button to create the new site.

Once the new site is created, you can manage it from the "My Sites" menu in the network admin dashboard. You can edit the site's settings, add or remove users, and customize the site as needed.

Managing Existing Sites

To manage an existing site, log in to the network admin dashboard and click on the "Sites" menu. From there, select the site you want to manage, and then click on the "Dashboard" button to access the site's dashboard.

From the site's dashboard, you can manage the site's content, themes, and plugins, as well as customize the site's settings. You can also add or remove users, and manage user roles and permissions across all sites in the network.

If you want to manage multiple sites at once, you can use the "Bulk Actions" feature to perform common tasks, such as updating themes and plugins or deleting sites.

Tips for Creating and Managing Sites

  • Keep your site titles and addresses clear and concise for easy management and navigation.
  • Use a consistent naming convention for your sites to make them easier to locate in the network admin dashboard.
  • Regularly update all your sites to ensure they are running the latest versions of WordPress core, themes, and plugins.
  • Use plugins like Jetpack or ManageWP to streamline the process of managing multiple sites in your network.

Creating and managing sites in a WordPress multisite network can be incredibly efficient and time-saving, allowing you to easily manage all your sites from one central location. With these tips in mind, you can create and manage your sites in a way that works best for your needs.

Handling User Roles and Permissions Across Sites

WordPress multisite networks allow for the management of multiple websites from a single installation. However, with multiple sites come multiple users with different roles and permissions. It is essential to manage these user roles and permissions properly to protect your network's security and ensure smooth collaboration between users.

Understanding User Roles and Permissions

WordPress multisite networks have five default user roles: Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, and Contributor.

  • Super Admin has access to all sites and network controls.
  • Administrator has access to the site they are assigned to.
  • Editor can edit all content on a site but cannot alter its settings.
  • Author can create and publish posts and pages on their assigned site.
  • Contributor can create content but cannot publish it. They need an editor or administrator to publish their posts.

By default, account registration is only open to the network's administrator. However, the administrator can override this configuration to make it possible for new users to sign up.

Managing User Roles and Permissions

Managing user roles and permissions is simple with WordPress multisite. Here are a few easy steps:

  1. Log into your network's dashboard and go to the "Users" section.
  2. Add a new user by selecting "Add New" and filling out the required fields.
  3. Select the site you want the user to have access to and set their role.
  4. Click "Add User."

By following these steps, you can add new users to your network with the appropriate roles and permissions.

Customizing User Roles and Permissions

If the default WordPress user roles don't fit your needs, you can add custom user roles with specific permissions.

There are several ways to do this:

  1. Use a plugin – The User Role Editor plugin allows you to create custom user roles and customize existing ones.
  2. Modify code – The WordPress core code can be modified to add custom user roles.


Managing user roles and permissions is an essential part of maintaining a WordPress multisite network. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily manage user roles and permissions to keep your network secure and functioning smoothly. For further information, check out WordPress's user role and capabilities documentation.

Managing Site Content and Updates Centrally

Managing site content and updates across numerous sites can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but setting up a WordPress multisite network can help you manage all your sites easily from a central location. However, before you start managing your site content, create a content strategy that aligns with your business goals and target audience.

Once you have a strategy in place, access the Super Admin dashboard and navigate to 'My Sites > Network Admin > Dashboard' to manage all your sites. You can edit plugins, themes, user roles, and permissions directly from the dashboard, making it easier to manage all your sites from a central location.

WordPress also offers a built-in feature called 'Network-Wide Plugins,' allowing you to manage plugins and updates centrally across all your sites. However, if you need to customize plugins for specific sites or the entire network, you can use the 'Network Activate' feature to activate plugins only on select sites.

Additionally, WordPress offers a unique feature called 'Global Content Management,' allowing you to manage site content centrally across all your sites. This feature enables you to create a post, page, or media file, and then use it on any of your network sites, reducing the time and effort needed to manage content across numerous sites.

Moreover, you can use plugins like MainWP and InfiniteWP to manage multiple sites through a single dashboard. These plugins offer numerous features like managing backups, updates, security, and advanced user roles and permissions, streamlining your site management process.

In conclusion, managing site content and updates centrally is crucial when managing a WordPress multisite network. Set up a content strategy, access the Super Admin dashboard, and use features like Network-Wide Plugins and Global Content Management to streamline your workflow and save time. Lastly, consider using third-party plugins like MainWP and InfiniteWP to manage your sites more efficiently and effectively.

Customizing Themes and Plugins for WordPress Multisite Network

Customizing themes and plugins for a WordPress Multisite Network can enhance the user experience and make your network stand out from the rest. Thankfully, with WordPress Multisite, it's possible to customize themes and plugins for specific sites or the entire network.

Customizing Themes

You can customize themes in two ways - either for a specific site or for the entire network. If you are customizing for a specific site, you can upload the theme to the site's installation from the network administration dashboard.

However, if you want to customize themes for the entire network, you have to create a new theme or create a child theme. Customizing themes for the entire network can be challenging as it can lead to conflicts between sites. Therefore, it's essential to make use of a child theme to make changes to the main theme.

Customizing Plugins

Just like themes, you can customize plugins on a site-by-site basis or across the entire network. To customize plugins on a specific site, you need to navigate to the site's administration dashboard and make the changes.

When customizing plugins across the entire network, you need to navigate to the network administration dashboard and make the changes there. The change made to the plugin applies to all sites on the network, making it an efficient and time-saving approach.

Best Practices for Customizing

When customizing themes and plugins, it's essential to follow best practices. This includes:

  • Creating a Child Theme: When customizing themes, always create a child theme. It is an efficient way of making changes without affecting the main theme.

  • Back up the Network: Before customizing themes or plugins across the network, it's crucial to create a backup. This is essential in case something goes wrong during the customization process.

  • Test Everything: Testing is critical when making changes to themes and plugins. Before rolling the changes out to the entire network, test it on a single site.


Customizing themes and plugins for WordPress Multisite Network can make your network distinct. Making use of best practices ensures that the process is successful, and the changes implemented are of high quality.

If you are new to WordPress Multisite, we recommend beginning with the basics and gradually advancing to more complex tasks. The WordPress Codex has extensive documentation for this.

Setting up and Managing Site Backups and Security

One of the most important aspects of managing a WordPress multisite network is ensuring site backups and security measures are in place to protect against data loss and malicious attacks.

Setting up Site Backups

There are various methods for backing up your sites, including manual backups and using backup plugins. However, using a plugin can make the process more efficient and manageable.

Plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy allow you to schedule regular backups and customize backup settings, such as what files are included in the backup. It’s important to store your backups in a secure location, such as offsite storage or a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

It’s also important to test your backups regularly to ensure they are working properly and can be easily restored in case of data loss.

Managing Site Security

Ensuring site security is crucial to protecting against potential hacks or data breaches. Here are some ways to manage site security in your WordPress multisite network:

Use Secure Passwords

Strong passwords are the first step to protecting your sites. Ensure all users have secure passwords and consider using a password manager to generate and store secure passwords.

Install Security Plugins

Security plugins like Wordfence and Sucuri help protect against malicious attacks and spam. They can also scan your site for vulnerabilities and provide recommendations for improving site security.

Update regularly

Keeping your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins up to date is crucial to maintaining site security. Outdated software can leave your site vulnerable to attacks.

Set User Permissions

Review user permissions to ensure only authorized users have access to sensitive areas of your sites. Assign user roles based on the level of access needed for each task.

Overall, regular backups and strong security measures are necessary components of managing a successful WordPress multisite network. By using the right tools and following best practices, you can ensure your sites are protected and well-maintained.

For further information and assistance on managing backups and security measures, consult the WordPress Codex or contact your hosting provider for support.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Network Sites

Even with a well-configured WordPress multisite network, you may encounter some common issues that can affect the availability and performance of your sites. Here are some troubleshooting tips to help you identify and resolve these issues.

1. Slow Site Performance

Slow site performance can be caused by a variety of factors, including server configuration issues, poorly optimized themes or plugins, excessive database queries, and large media files. To troubleshoot slow site performance:

  • Check your site's loading speed using tools like GTmetrix or Pingdom. Identify the slow pages and the elements that are causing the delays.
  • Optimize your images using tools like or ShortPixel to reduce their size without compromising on image quality.
  • Minimize the number of plugins and themes used on your sites, and uninstall any unnecessary plugins.
  • Use a caching solution like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache to reduce server response time and improve page load times.

2. Site Not Loading or Showing Errors

If your site is not loading or showing errors, it could be due to issues with your domain name settings, server configuration, or plugin/theme conflicts. To troubleshoot these issues:

  • Check your domain name registrar and DNS settings to ensure that your domain name is pointing to the correct IP address and that all DNS records are correct.
  • Check your server logs for any error messages or alerts that could be causing the issue.
  • Disable all your plugins and switch to a default WordPress theme to see if the issue is resolved. If it is, then re-enable plugins and themes one at a time until you identify the one causing the issue.

3. Broken Links or Missing Assets

Broken links or missing assets can occur when you move or delete content on your sites, or when there are changes to your server configuration. To troubleshoot these issues:

  • Use a broken link checker like Broken Link Checker or WP Link Status Pro to identify any broken links or missing assets on your sites.
  • Check your server logs for any error messages or alerts related to missing assets or broken links.
  • Use a tool like Better Search Replace or WP Migrate DB Pro to update links to content or assets that have been moved or renamed.

4. User Login or Access Issues

User login or access issues can occur when there are conflicts between user roles and permissions across your sites, or when there are problems with your authentication methods. To troubleshoot these issues:

  • Check your user roles and permissions settings to ensure that each user has the appropriate access level and permissions on each site.
  • Use a plugin like Multisite User Management or User Role Editor to manage user roles and permissions across your network.
  • Use a tool like Two-Factor to add an extra layer of authentication to your login process and improve security.

By following these troubleshooting tips, you can resolve common issues with your WordPress multisite network and keep your sites running smoothly and efficiently. To learn more about troubleshooting network issues, refer to the WordPress Codex documentation.

Managing multiple WordPress sites on a network can be an overwhelming task, but by setting up a multisite network, creating and managing sites, handling user roles and permissions, managing content and updates, customizing themes and plugins, setting up backups and security, and troubleshooting any issues that may arise, individuals or businesses have the ability to streamline their website management process and save valuable time.

By taking the time to properly set up a WordPress multisite network using the provided instructions, website owners are given a convenient platform that allows them to create new sites and manage existing ones with ease. It also gives them the ability to customize themes and plugins across the network or for specific sites as needed- eliminating the need for time-consuming updates to multiple individual sites.

In addition, controlling user roles and permissions for each site ensures that website administrators can manage who has access to each site and the capabilities they have- making it easier to delegate tasks and keep sites organized. Additionally, backing up and regularly maintaining security measures across the network can give peace of mind to website owners who want to make sure their sites remain secure and functioning properly.

Managing multiple WordPress sites on a network does come with its own unique set of challenges, but with the proper setup and knowledge of how to handle common issues, businesses or individuals can benefit from a more streamlined and organized approach to website management. By implementing the information provided in this article, website owners can significantly reduce the time and effort they put into managing their sites and focus their attention on other aspects of their business.

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