Question: Multisite vs Single Install on Nginx


You wrote in one of your great NginX articles that sometimes there is no need to use multisite but instead to use multiple individual wordpress installs.

If have 40 domains, one owner/webmaster. Each domain is unrelated to another (one travel affiliate site, another adsense, third news, fourth review etc..) Each site would have a separate theme and a separate set of plugins independent of others with few overlaps. None of the sites would give users the ability to register and create their own subdomains.

Would you think it be better to run the 40 domains as a single subdomain multi-site, or have the 40 individual wordpress installs?

It will be definitely pain to manage 40 different sites.

If you have some free time, create a spreadsheet to gain better insight about your sites. Switching between multisite and non-multisite involves good amount of work (specially for large single-sites with many users)

If you can divide them in related groups, then using a plugin like - can help up to some extent. You may have then one or few multisite setups and few single-site setups. Aim for less than 5 individual WordPress installations.

I haven’t used that plugin yet, but I am seriously considering it and will test it soon on this network itself. We have identified 3 groups for this complex network so far:

  1. (this main site in its own group. May be we can add to its group)
  2. Blog-Network ( will have and few other blogs we run)
  3. Client Sites (Small CMS styles client-sites. They mostly have a contact-form plugin and few more goodies)

There is a ticket on WordPress trac pending review since long time -

If that becomes part of WordPress core someday, things will be much easier going ahead for complex networks. IMHO.

Hi Rahul,

Thank you for taking your time to answer my Nginx question.

I have no users, only visitors, who I want clicking links, and not registering.

Back to my question.

So if I have 40 websites on a single server, you suggest that I have 10 multisites , each handling 4 independent websites? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of having a multisite?

Are you saying that Ubuntu 11.10 with Nginx can handle only 4 wordpress installations? I am sorry if I am misunderstanding you.

I thought that the whole purpose of multisite is to have multiple websites under a single wordpress control panel - so an admin running web-farms can update/add plugins to the entire farm all from a single super-admin wordpress backend?

Thank you again for taking your time.


So if I have 40 websites on a single server, you suggest that I have 10 multisites , each handling 4 independent websites? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of having a multisite?

You got it all wrong. There is no limit on number of sites in multisite. What I suggested is to group similar sites together based on functionality for ease of maintenance.

Your case looks simple as user-registration is not open. You may go for a single multisite setup.

Thank you for answering. Actually I just overwrote the multisite I was making and think will go with individual wordpress installations. I couldn’t find a way to develop on my localhost and have the updated files pushed up to live without a huge inconvenience., which is an even bigger inconvenience than updating 40 sites manually .

Seems was easier five years ago when build it locally and it automatically pushes up to live but dreamweaver don’t understand multisite and neither does any other software so that leaves notepad or software a step above notepad.

I am trying to modify your single wordpress install file into virtual directories running of the same ip. is there any chance you can do an example of how the sites-available code would look if multiple wordpress sites shared the same IP on nginx?

Thanks again,



My first recommendation - use NetBeans. Dreamweaver is for those old static HTML/CSS type sites. Netbeans will give you proper environment to develop on WordPress.

Next… as you are planning for 40 sites, better follow these conventions I explained here. If you are using same single IP address for all 40 sites, then you no need to add anything in Nginx config file for IP part.

I will still recommend you going with multisite. I guess you are downloading/uploading entire WordPress between local and remote env which is not a correct way. You better keep theme/plugin codes you are working on only in your development environment.

Explaining everything won’t be possible here. But once you start with Netbeans, some googling will guide you for remaining details.


Thank you for your reply. Actually I don’t upload wordpress itself with Dreamweaver but the plugins folder is included , since each site has their own set of plugins which share the same folder on multisite. S

So if I were to use Dreamweaver for a multi-site, every single subdomain site will be overlapping one another as they would all be sharing the same wp-content/plugins and wp-content/themes folder. I also use child themes…

I like Dreamweaver for its code completion features, and don’t bother using 90% of its functionality. 10 years I am comfortable with it, but I guess it can’t or won’t adapt to Wordpress.

I am gonna look at Java beans or alternative once more. I tried Sublime 2, but couldn’t get used to it; everything took 10 times longer to do and designed in a way to make things even harder (command prompt? are the 1980s back in style?)

It’s a shame 70 million websites run Wordpress but nothing exists to make transition between dev and live servers as easy as it was 10 years ago even on .net/sql server template sites.

Just my rant…


overlapping one another as they would all be sharing the same wp-content/plugins and wp-content/themes folder

Its good that plugins/themes are shared. That way you no need to add them in every project.

Ideally you should only keep plugins/themes you are developing in your project workspace. Netbeans has code completion and many more features which Dreamweaver can never match (for WordPress projects)

You can use Git & git-flow to automate deployment somewhat. Please google on these topics as there is plenty of information available there.