Support » Networking WordPress » Multisite versus multiple instances question

  • Hello everyone,

    After reading through the multisite documentation and ipstenu really helpful posts on the matter, I still can’t decide if I need a multisite install or several instances.

    My case is as follows:

    I work at a research center which is internally organized in several separate groups. Each group has its own list of projects, news, etc and would like to have an easily updateable site of its own.
    The center already has a WordPress blog online on which I do admin tasks, so a possible approach would be to multisite this existing install and append group sites to the main instance.

    The new sites would have to:

    – Be easily created from scratch. I would need to have a template site that I would copy everytime I’d need to create a new group site, then an appointed member of the group would fill the site with content. I think this template/copy stuff is possible through plugins.

    – The base style would probably have to be adapted to the particular needs of each group, but not that much. Probably this could be solved via child themes.

    – I don’t need any fancy information replication feature; if some group refers to another group stuff in some way, the matter would be solved with a link to the other group’s post, period.

    My worries right now are:

    – Backups: the backup becomes a monolytic block. If you restore the database, the restore applies to all the sites. Is that right? Also, you have no way to separate the backups for individual sites?

    – Availability: If the main site goes down for maintenance or something horrible happens to my server, all the sites in the network go down, right?

    – Resource consumption: A multisite install seems to be more “economic” at resource level (i.e. server memory use) than having multiple instances. Is that right?

    Any observations/comments would be greatly appreciated.


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  • I work for USC. We use WP to publish web sites for various university departments. We are using WP multisite subdomain and we love it. We have over 300 sites. Can you imagine how cumbersome it would be to backup, maintain, and upgrade 300 separate WP sites? Each site has a different group of users, though certain users have access to multiple sites with different roles. We have over 100 themes.

    I can answer some of your questions:
    Backups – we do a daily full db & disk backup but I believe there is a db transaction log. Each network site has its own set of tables, so it is possible to restore just a set of tables specific for a site.

    Availability – Yes, if something horrible happens, then all your sites are down. I would assume this would be something critical like the database or load balancer. In our case with the db, any problems are usually global (all db instances) and hardly a specific instance. Upgrading WP core usually takes 1 minute, so that is our downtime during upgrades.

    Resource consumption – From my understanding, there really is no difference between multiple single instances of WP and WP multisite with regards to server resources. IMO, we save a huge amount of time in terms of administration – managing sites/users, upgrading WP, etc.

    Thanks for your reply jkhongusc,

    Looks like your scenario is similar to mine. However I don’t think we’ll never get even near 300 web sites, a more realistic number in my case will be around 10 or so.

    I think I’ll give it a try and see what happens.

    Thanks again!

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