Why Multisite is a Waste of Time

Is WordPress Multisite a Waste of Time

If you use MainWP for managing your child sites, you already have a way to update plugins, themes, and push different code changes to those sites without having to deal with multisite performance issues.

Multisite allows many subsites to share common plugins and themes. In addition, all sites will end up sharing the same database and server resources. The downside to sharing database and server resources will be explained later.

Multisite only database tables

wp_site
wp_sitemeta
wp_blogs
wp_blogmeta – New added in WordPress 5.1
wp_blog_versions
wp_signups
wp_registration_log

Global database tables shared over all subsites

wp_users
wp_usermeta

Whilst each subsite will create their own version of these same database tables

wp_commentmeta
wp_comments
wp_links
wp_options
wp_postmeta
wp_posts
wp_terms
wp_termmeta
wp_term_relationships
wp_term_taxonomy

You are not going to gain anything by using subsites for client child sites. The biggest issue ends up being trying to performance optimize a subsite vs doing the same thing for a single site. The fact that all of your subsites will be sharing the server database and resources will do you no favors in having subsites being performance-based.

MainWP allows you to manage as many child sites as you will need. If you made changes to a custom active theme, you can push out those changes to specific child sites, or if you made changes to a specific site plugin which was custom to a child site. You can zip up that plugin file and then push out to as many child sites as needed.

There is no real reason to use multisite for client child sites; multisite ends up being the most complex solution to an otherwise fixable problem. You already have a management solution for managing multiple child sites and that is MainWP.

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21 thoughts on “Why Multisite is a Waste of Time”

  1. It’s not completely a waste of time. We have a client which was running WPML which was a major slow down factor on their site. We’ve implemented Multisite for them as an alternative for WPML. And performance wise we’ve experienced a massive gain.

    Reply
  2. i realize that you’re obviously pushing MainWP as a replacement tool for MultiSite, but i can’t help but feel that you’re truly doing MultiSite a massive disservice in the process.

    if you’re an advocate of WordPress (WP), then how could you not also advocate MultiSite (MU)? it’s truly a powerful (built in) extension of WP.

    to say that a WPMU is a resource drain to all sites on the MU is like saying that WikiPedia would run smooth, flawlessly and provide an absolutely amazing end user experience… on a GoDaddy basic webhost package.

    the only point that i’m trying to make is this… as a new customer of MainWP, i would expect any company with self worth (& self respect) to advocate the positives and negatives of any WP topic.

    sorry for the rant, but i felt that it was needed. …especially since you said that you wouldn’t delete/block comments 😉

    ###

    on the contrary, i’m actually having a very difficult time getting the MainWP plugins to play nicely on my 50+ SubSite MultiSite. i’m not questioning whether “not recommended for WP MultiSite” is actually because MainWP does not support MultiSite, rather than being WP & WPMU compatible.

    with the pricing of cPanel having gone up a few months back, another plus side for WPMU is that it can be hosted within 1 cPanel account. minimizing your cPanel footprint while maximizing your usage efficiency still costs the same for the cPanel user license. 256mb RAM or 2GB ram… and you’re still left with the same cPanel footprint. for 50+ SubSites, that’s A LOT of account logins/passwords that I DO NOT need to worry about… because they’re all stored safely with 1 core key.

    not trying to say that MainWP isn’t everything that you said and (presumably) more. i’m only trying to say that in my search for MainWP info on MultiSite documentation, i was a bit taken back to find that the first MU article was putting MultiSite down :/

    Reply
  3. I think you are saying that the use case for MU is not good for running multiple extensively different websites under the same network.

    MU is not a waste of time. MU is good for small franchises or companies with different departments that need to share the same parent URL.

    There are also use cases where MU is a good option.

    Reply
  4. Hi Sebastian,

    Thanks for posting this article, although I do not agree with your conclusion at all, as there are real case scenarios, where MU install is extremely handy and helpful. Let me give you one example I’ve got personal experience with.

    We are running Football network of news sites at https://readeverything.co/ This is running on WP MU and there currently exists 94 sites in network, which are typically team dedicated, so for instance:

    https://readceltic.com/
    https://readarsenal.com/
    – etc.

    As you can see all sites in network are sharing similar theme and common functionalities. Having this running from one codebase is actually massive benefit. So instead of deploying changes to 94 sites, I deploy changes just to one place.

    Same goes for different setup changes like caching. Again instead of going through settings of every single site I can apply changes in one place.

    Or how about authors publishing for different sites? With WP MU I can easily assign permissions to each editor per site basis.

    How are these waste of time? There’s no way you could achieve same with single WP installs.

    I can surely give you more specific examples, but this should give you an idea.

    Don’t take me wrong, I love MainWP and actually using in personally, but saying that WPMU is waste of time, because we’ve got MainWP is totally wrong conclusion.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your response Sebastian. I’ve been working with WordPress since around version 1.5 and it’s been always often blamed to be slow and not performing well.

      Problem is that those performance issues are not usually caused by WordPress itself or under-performing hosting platform, but it’s in 99% not efficient coding practice and improper setup.

      Can you be bit more specific when you are saying you seen it cause many performance issues? Also I can assure you, that sharing same DB resource is not a problem at all. WordPress.com is probably the biggest WP MU install and they don’t seem to struggle that much, do they?

      I would say, WordPress is great piece of software, but it always depends on the use case. It’s definitely not for everything and everyone.

      Reply
      • WordPress can perform very well. I was talking about mutli-site being used when it does not need to be then you run into issues of shared resources with all sub-sites using the same resources and the shared Database. WordPress.com hosting setup is a little different that most hosting companies. I have no issues with WordPress and think it is a great CMS, my issue is only with multi-sites.

        Reply
  5. I came to your site looking at MainWP as a possible way of managing of cloning, staging, rolling out and rolling back on individual sites that happen to be child sites on multiple multisites. No that is not a typepo.

    With all due respect for the great work you are doing, for us, it is not a Multisite versus MainWP argument. Multisite has saved us thousands of hours and given us some fine-grained integrations across multiple sites in the same network. It is most definitely NOT a “Waste of Time”. While there is some obvious overlap between the Multisite ecosystem and yours, we are totally committed to staying the course on current and future installations.

    That said, it comes down to the question of is MainWP compatible with Multisite chance that MainWP is going to break our highly optimised multisite installations?

    Reply
  6. I also came across your site looking for a single pane of glass solution and am disappointed in your stance on multisite. In both my 9-5 and freelance work I run multisite for different reasons. For my needs I run subdomain not subdirectories. I have a number of sites running on a multisite install which have completely different domain names altogether. Additionally are you considering the licensing model many plugins have? I am also starting a WAAS business and that model is based on cloning a preconfigured site within a multisite server. I don’t think any of your posts addressed any of these scenarios.

    It would be great if I could manage child sites on multiple multisites as Stephen B posted

    Reply
  7. Reading your “bright ideas” made me compare them in real world practices…

    High majority of wordpress websites are company or portfolio sites. Since they have kind-of static pages which almost never change (aboutus/clients/etc) why do we even have wordpress at hand? Let’s dump it all together, and with it your MainWP services too

    I have an idea for your next article; “why-wordpress-is-a-waste-of-time!”

    On the contrary; I wanna offer a real life “busines breakthrough idea” for your company
    – Support wordpress’ multisite asap
    – Allow super admins to _backup_ their subsites individually(I do it at AWS RDS already, I mean it’s not what I want but WP suffers all together
    – Grant it freely!
    – See the impact of ROI very soon.
    – Get surprised!

    Reply
  8. I agree with Sebastian. Multisites is not an ideal long term solution. One is better off separating databases and managing them all from one convenient location as MainWP or other services do. Takes seconds to perform an upgrade/update. Multisite works in a pinch but over the long run, no way. Clearly those on this thread simply haven’t worked with one long enough to learn first hand what a nightmare they’ve set themselves up for. Why would they even be commenting on a thread about NOT using multisites if they knew it worked. Why try to educate us that it “can work” in “unique circumstances”. Go for it I say! Experience is a great educator.

    Reply

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