It seemed like a good idea at the time… setting up a multisite install on a dedicated VPS on a reputable host and sitting back to relax and watch those hosting dollars flow in…
And it was great, for a while… but getting bigger, adding more sites and users to the multisite install started to get really nerve wracking, and after a lot of thought and a deep breath, last month I started moving away from multisite, extricating all my sites from that network and putting them all into individual accounts on new cloud hosting (yes, this is an affiliate link. I love these guys).
I am mightily relieved… and here’s why.
1. Backup Buddy stopped actively supporting multisite. Truth to tell I only had about 15 sites on the multisite install, but two of theme were getting significant traffic, and restoring a whole site whose backup had gone over 1gb in size was starting to look problematic… for a start it was too large to move to off site, and the prospect of even downloading or uploading such a large file was getting daunting.
2. I didn’t want to be a sys admin any more. My VPS was lovely, with all the bells and whistles and it served me well. BUT, a. IT was run on Plesk, and I don’t love that system, and b. having to look after your very own server requires a set of skills I wasn’t interested in really getting deep into acquiring. Furthermore, the host I was with, as helpful as they were, always prefaced the conversation with “this is outside the scope of our usual support”… It got frustrating.
3. Putting each site in its own hosting means they’ll be easier to manage. In each site having their own cpanel account and their own little space on my server I know that moving them, should they ever need to be moved will be easier than from multisite. It also means I can hand over the cpanel keys (I prefer it so much to plesk) to the client or their own developers just makes sense. It also means they have their own separate database and I’m not having to travel through pages of db entries to find the right site to tweak AND not having to recreate the user table because multisite stores everything in the parent user table rather than a new one for each site iteration.
4. There are great tools for management of multiple WP Installations these days.. I’m using InfinteWP to manage updates from one dashboard. Sure, I’m still managing multiple WP Installations, but they’re all tucked into one screen and so far it’s been working really well. There are other tools available too, notable are ManageWP and WPRemote all of which make managing updates from a single dashboard really simple.
5. Child Themes are easier to manage in a standalone situation. Because I use Genesis as the theme framework for almost all of the theme customisations I was duplicating child themes for each new site install. This wouldn’t be so challenging if I was using Twenty Twelve or some other standard theme, because each new site could have its own Twenty Twelve child. But because I’m customising themes that are already children (of Genesis) I’d have to duplicate each one in full. It is certainly easier to manage children in a standalone site rather than sifting through dozens of themes in the multisite’s wp-content directory when I was navigating there to make changes.
Multisite is amazing, and if you’ve got the time, the wherewithal, and the inclination to look after it properly, then I’m all for using it. Though in the case of using it as a hosting manager I feel like it’s better used in its natural context, in setting up a network of blogs, much like WordPress.com – rather than as a tool for reselling web hosting.
In short, I just got to the point where this kind of management was causing me more stress than it was saving me hassle… so, even in facing the daunting task of moving sites off multisite (all but the largest two of which were easily migrated using the Backup Buddy migration tool) I now feel so much less cluttered and more organised now that everyone has their OWN little corner of the web, it has felt like a good move. Not to mention the dollars I’m saving having all my clients on one platform.
What do you think? Did I do the right thing?? Have you considered moving away from multisite for hosting? How’s it working out?