Have you ever tried hassling with multiple WordPress installations on one domain?
The updating, configuring plugins, adding new themes, can be a really daunting task.
Rather you're trying to manage your blogging network or have a website with separate editorial teams, you may find a lot of benefits in using WordPress Multisite.
What Is WordPress Multisite?
WordPress multisite is a module that's pre-integrated with every WordPress installation and allows you the ability to instantly deploy multiple WordPress on subdomains (i.e. http://site1.yourdomain.com) or in subfolders (i.e. http://yourdomain.com/site1).
The largest example of this is the WordPress.com hosted platform that powers millions of users, giving them the ability to have their own subdomain on their network.
Another good example is CNN. You'll notice they have many "sub-sites" such as https://www.cnn.com/style, http://money.cnn.com/, etc.
What Are The Main Benefits?
Running multiple WordPress installs on a single domain not only pose a security threat, they're also a headache to constantly configure and keep updated.
With WordPress multisite, you control each install including all plugins, themes, etc. inside on master dashboard. You can also assign isolated access to different users. For example, one user maybe the admin to one subdomain, but not the entire network.
Rather than installing the same plugin over-and-over again, you install it once, and then activate it on the site(s) you want to use it. Themes work the same way, but you also have the option to add unique themes per site!
What Are The Disadvantages?
Some customers get this confused with our Reseller Hosting.
WordPress multisite isn't for external customers or domains.
Its primary purpose is for those looking to host multiple instances of WordPress on a single domain, inside a sub folder or subdomain (as I mentioned in my real-life examples above).
Therefore, the primary disadvantage is you couldn't use this to offer your own clients a "managed" WordPress hosting infrastructure.
How To Setup WordPress Multisite
Personally, I don't recommend trying to transform an existing WordPress website to multisite unless it's one without any current data.
Doing this with a new installation, especially using Softaculous Apps Installer inside of cPanel is VERY easy.
1) Go to cPanel -> WordPress Manager
2) Click Install
3) Fill out Software Setup
Choose Version: For new installs, we always recommend the current. At the time of this tutorial it is 5.5 and automatically populates. (Note: Installing older versions of WordPress could pose a security risk, so you should proceed with caution)
Choose Protocol: If AutoSSL has generated your free certificate, you should select https://www. or https:// (Note: As long as you can see an active certificate in cPanel -> SSL/TLS Status, you may ignore that "trusted SSL" notice).
Choose Domain: This is the domain you wish to install WordPress on. Most often, it is the primary domain you signed up with.
In Directory: If you wish to install WordPress on your root domain, meaning when someone goes to yourdomain.com, they see your website, you should leave this field blank. If you wish to install WordPress in a subdirectory (i.e. yourdomain.com/wordpress) you may enter the directory name here (it will create it if it doesn't exist).
4) Fill out Site Settings and make sure to select the multisite option
These settings can easily be changed after you install, so if you're unsure, you may leave these defaults.
Site Name: This is the name of your website.
Site Description: This is displayed below your site name throughout WordPress.
The WordPress admin interface allows complete control of your website. This is where you'll configure your theme, create pages, write blog posts, and much more.
Your admin account allows for full access and total control over your website so you want to use a very strong password as well as a unique username. You should click the key to have the password generate create a random one for you. This is the single most important thing you can do to keep your website secure.
Database Name: All your WordPress data (your pages/posts/settings) are stored inside a database. This is the internal name for your reference and should only be changed if you know what you're doing.
Table Prefix: This is a random group of letters to secure your database tables. This should only be changed if you specifically know what you're doing.
Disable Update Notifications Emails: If you do not plan on auto updating, you should keep these enabled. Running outdated versions of WordPress poses a big security risk.
Auto Upgrade: Unless you plan on manually logging into your WordPress admin area weekly and completing upgrades, you should enable at least one of these options. Upgrade to Minor versions only will prevent WordPress from doing a "major" upgrade that may break any third-arty themes/plugins until they're ready to update. Upgrade to any latest version available will always keep your WordPress installation updated automatically.
Auto Upgrade WordPress Plugins: In addition to the option above, WordPress plugins are constantly updating to add new features and increase security. It's highly recommended you enable this option unless you plan on logging into your WordPress admin area daily to complete these upgrades.
Auto Upgrade WordPress Themes: This option will keep all your themes updated, which runs every 24 hours. As with the plugins, this greatly enhances the security of your website, and is recommended to enable unless you plan on doing daily.
Backup Location: You can keep this default, NameHero provides 100% free daily and weekly backups of your account safely in an offsite location which doesn't count against your inode (file) usage.
Nearly all WordPress websites that are compromised are because failure to run regular updates and/or using strong admin credentials. You have the opportunity here to save yourself the headache of dealing with catastrophic data loss, please make your decisions wisely!
The default WordPress themes are pretty basic and most user's want to choose a custom theme. We provide these 100% free of charge which you can easily add/install to your website instantly. Feel free to use the search feature to find one that meets your needs. Additionally, you can add these once the installation is completed.
9) Click Install
When you're satisfied with all your options, click Install and WordPress will immediately deploy onto your web hosting account. This process takes under a minute, but please don't navigate away/close your browser until it completes. You may also wish to email yourself (or your developer) details of your installation for future reference.
10) Start building your website
Once installed, you'll be given your wp-admin URL where you can login and begin configuring/building your website. You should make sure you store your admin credentials in a safe place, preferably a password manager.
You've successfully installed WordPress multisite!