Pages and posts on each site are still managed separately, but themes, plugins, backups and security are managed centrally. This makes it much easier to manage a group of related websites.
In addition to the basic Multisite capabilities, I highly recommend a few plugins that extend the multisite paradigm:
- Network Shared Media - allows you to share media files across your websites.
- Multisite Plugin Manager - improves plugin management; allows you to mass activate/deactivate plugins across your network of sites.
- Multisite User Sync - synchronizes users across your network of sites.
The downside of WordPress Multisite is that moving a multisite network from one hosting server to another can be difficult.
I recently moved a network of websites (chinatown-directory.com and 18 associated sites) from BlueHost to SiteGround. I found a pretty painless, step-but-step process for making the move, which I describe below.
- Go to your current Multisite dashboard. Install and activate the UpdraftPlus Premium plugin. This is a paid plugin... but believe me, it's worth it!
- Do a complete backup of your website, and download all the files to your desktop computer.
- Go to your new host. Add the domain for the root (or original) site of your multisite network.
- Change the DNS pointers to your root site to point to the new hosting server, and wait for the changes to propagate.
- Go to the control panel for your new host. Install WordPress, and be sure to check the "enable multisite" checkbox.
- Install and activate the UpdraftPlus Premium plugin on the new host.
- Upload the backup files from your desktop computer, and run a restore.
- Verify that the root site is working correctly on your new server.
- For each of the additional sites in your multisite network:
- Add the domains on your new server; point them to the base domain directory.
- Change the DNS pointers for each of the additional domains.
- Don't forget that, if you have email accounts associated with the domains in your network, you'll need to move the email accounts to your new hosting service as well.