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I've been reading a lot of questions here regarding about multiple blogs/sites in one Wordpress installation and I've added some of them to my favorites. But I still have the urge/nerve to post this question as I'm excited to have my first attempt in blogging.

I will ask for your opinions and experiences on how to best solve my dilemma.

My goal is to launch 3 blogs based on my varied interests. I've already bought domains and web hosting. Now the questions going through my head are:

  1. It might be better to have one account to manage the 3 blogs I'm planning. Is that the multisite feature of Wordpress? Those 3 blogs will be on 3 different domains as they are different (niche) in category. They'll also be having their own themes.
  2. In this multisite feature, will they point to one database only? If that's the case, it would be better to have separate databases for those blogs of mine to avoid bloating the database. I think this database thing is my main issue. What do you guys think?
  3. I've really no need for unified user registration as of the moment, contrary to what other users reason out for setting up multisite in WP. These are just blogs not forums anyway, besides users/visitors just can use OpenID or their WP accounts to comment right?
  4. Finally, am I just better having 3 separate WP installations on my host? What pros and cons can you guys give from choosing multisite versus 3 separate WP installations?

The perfect example might be the account one could have on Wordpress.com. You only have one account but you get to create many blogs that will be on their own domains later on. The benefit is that you control it on one account only.

Hope to hear your opinions and thank you.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

No matter what you do: Avoid separate installations. You can use one installation to serve three or more single-site setups (just switch on $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] in your wp-config.php) or one multi-site installation. But running three updates for the same software on one host doesn’t make sense. Just a waste of time.

  1. Unless you plan to install hundreds of different themes and plugins on each instance you can share the same plugin and theme directories on multi-site or different single-site-installations.

  2. The database will not be a problem. And again you can reuse the same data base in multiple single-site installations too.

  3. There are OpenID plugins to allow such a login. No relation to multi- or single-site.

  4. There are no big differences. Some plugins work with less problems on single-site installations … and that’s why I recommend a multi-site: You will write your own plugins or themes sooner or later, and writing those for a more complex environment that you are actually using will make you a better developer.

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With regards to the database, would it be a drag in terms of backup since it would take longer than usual because of the combined data of the 3 blogs? –  Panoy Oct 5 '12 at 5:52
    
Once you are past the first 10 million entries this could be a problem. Until then don’t worry. :) –  toscho Oct 5 '12 at 5:54
    
"But running three updates for the same software on one host doesn’t make sense. Just a waste of time." ----> could you elaborate further, pardon me as this is my very first time to use Wordpress –  Panoy Oct 5 '12 at 5:58
    
Use one installation, and you have to update just this one, no matter on what blog you are. If you use three installations you have update each blog separately. –  toscho Oct 5 '12 at 6:00
    
just in case, restoring these backups would be easier right? Just a change or configuration in some WP files? thanks man! –  Panoy Oct 5 '12 at 6:00

Whilst it is possible to have Wordpress Multisite set-up to run these 3 separate sites, it's probably more work than it's worth if you're not very comfortable with Wordpress Multisite yet. Whilst I'd encourage you to create a Wordpress Multisite installation and play around with it, for the project you're talking about it'll just be more practical for you to create 3 separate Wordpress installations.

The database thing isn't an issue and I wouldn't factor that into the decision. Wordpress.com is actually a massive Wordpress Multisite installation, and even with the 10s of millions of Wordpress.com sites in the world, it runs perfectly. So I would never be worried about a performance drop when using Wordpress Multisite.

Sure, depending on how you set up comments. Users won't be able to use their WP accounts to comment unless your site is hosted by Wordpress.com or you've installed Jet Pack (which I'd recommend doing).

So I'd stick with 3 separate installations but still install a multisite installation elsewhere and test and play around with it. It's a very powerful feature of Wordpress.

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In what terms it would be practical to use 3 separate installations? Wordpress updates is a good factor not to consider separate installations. Aside from that, logging with its own username and password is a drag. –  Panoy Oct 5 '12 at 6:16
    
This is just my opinion and the reasons why I have this opinion. It sounds like you've never set one up before and it can be difficult to do the domain mapping and other parts of set-up. Obviously the benefits of it can make it worth it but I just gave you my opinion on it –  bryceadams Oct 6 '12 at 0:54
    
And if doing updates and logging in is such a big concern, I'd recommend a service like Manage WP –  bryceadams Oct 6 '12 at 0:57

Multisite is more useful in a scenario where the,

  • context of all sites are shared amongst a common purpose and topic
  • even when that purpose might be to allow people to run blogs on rAnDoM topics.

That (randomness) in itself is still the common goal and because of which you would tailor your themes, plugins and everything else to follow suit when catering for your users.

Notice that I mentioned the terms "your users" because...

  • Its a you and them scenario.

This is where Multisite excels, in being able to provide you with the means and methods to run a network of user blog sites and to control and communicate with your blog site owners.

That said, its perfectly acceptable to use Multisite as a sole user, but you'd have to question whether it makes sense too and that has a lot to do with your intended purposes surrounding your websites.

As an example, I run several niche websites each of which on a separate WordPress installation.

Some sites are hosted on the same servers, some on the same IPs, some on different, some on unique IPs and others on completely different web hosts from different countries.

This has its benefits in,

  • portability
  • self-containment
  • security (to a degree)
  • SEO (if applicable to your cause)

...to name but a few.

If I want to sell a site, which sometimes is the case, then that becomes easy too. Because standalone installations use,

  • standalone databases

Mulisite installations use,

  • one master database with each site having its own separate table within

There are plugin initiatives that allow you to utilize separate databases like this one,

...but by "separate" they mean you can either have,

  1. 16 databases

    OR

  2. 256 databases

    OR

  3. 4096 databases

For which your sites get evenly distributed amongst. So while they are separate databases, they are not separate in the individualistic sense.

There are probably other attempts at using single, standalone databases per site with a Multisite installation but it somewhat defeats the purpose... kind of.

Logistically it might seem harder to manage many-standalone sites and the more you have, the more involving your strategy sometimes needs to be but there are plenty of means and methods to help.

Depending on your purpose and business model, whether its for profit or please or a combination of the both - you will eventually develop your own tools and processes for quickly and easily managing your separate installations.

Its tempting to throw everything into one kit, one installation and consolidate it all BUT in doing so, what appears to be more efficient, could in fact bore more of a hindrance long term.

As @bryceadams said, installing and playing around with Multisite will give you a good feel for its capabilities and work flow. You'll better be able to determine its suitability to you there after.

Although...

My recommendation is with standalone installations.
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Thank you for the generous answer and I appreciate it to consider single installation. –  Panoy Oct 7 '12 at 13:09

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