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I have an existing and working normal (not multisite) WP installation. Now I've created a new WP MultiSite installation and successfully set up 2 independent sites (both empty).

Now I would like to clone the content from the old site to one of the site within the new multisite installation.

Here is what I've done so far:

  • Upgraded the old site to have the very same WP version as the new.
  • Installed the very same version theme and plugins on the new site.
  • Looked into the DB tables, with no particular result...

I see the DB structure is different for the new site to allow the multisite functionality. So obviously a db export/import will not work. I've also evaluated the possibility to upgrade the old site to be multisite, but that is not possible for various non technical reasons.

What would be the correct solution to move my old site under to a site within the new multisite installation?

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The WP importer should do the job for you. You may need to install it first.

Backup. Backup. Backup. Then, from your current single site: Tools > Export > All Content > Download

Then from the new location on your multi-site, Tools > Import > locate the export file and adjust options to your needs.

Note - you will need to still take care of settings like widgets, setting up your menu locations and possibly a few other tasks depending on how your theme was written.

There are many horror stories out there about the WP import/export tool. Some are true but most problems occur (in my experience) when doing partial content. In this case you are moving everything but your mileage may vary.

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