WordPress MU – is it worth doing?

I think it depends really on the amount of sites you have and also what and how much they share.

WordPress MU is great in that it allows you to manage a lot of commonalities between your WordPress sites in one place. I have created WordPress sites in the past that have all been hosted on the same server and share a lot of the same things. If your sites have a lot of the same users, plugins and share themes then you should definitely consider installing MU.

Once you have installed MU and you have multiple sites setup you can setup users at at the top level(network) and then assign access to individual sites from there. This saves you having to create different users with new passwords each time – its easier for the user and for the administrator of the sites. In MU you also install plugins at the network level and then you can activate the plugins across the different sites. It means you only need to install the plugin once and and is easier to keep track of what plugin is installed and versioning etc. You might also want to share the same theme which again means you only need to install the theme once.

An important thing to note about WordPress MU is that all sites will be sharing the same database. This can be a good thing and a bad thing at once. It means you only need to create and manage one database but it also means that if that one database gets corrupted that you are in trouble and you will need to fix multiple sites rather than 1. It’s not as much an issue if you have a replicated database to fall back on. It might in fact make things easier for you to manage in that you don’t have to create multiple databases and assign users and permissions etc.

Likewise, since there is only one version of WordPress, you only need to update wordpress once when the latest versions come out. If the update goes wrong it can affect multiple sites instead of just one so these are risks you will have to either decide take or leave. I’ve worked in environments where you have load balanced servers and a deploy involves taking one server offline to receive the new code, you can then test away to hearts content but maybe you cant afford the time and admin in that if its just for personal or friends or small businesses.

So you do need to think about it a bit or maybe experiment with it for a while if you need. It makes admin and maintenance easier but there is a bit of extra work involved in terms of setting up and organizing initially. This site is hosted in the same space as 4 other sites and counting. Its not wordpress MU, partially because I haven’t gotten around to moving it and partially because I make a lot of changes on the fly and since I don’t have any real deployment process, backup or load balancing I really don’t want to bring down 5 sites with an update, one would be bad enough. Living on the edge!

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