When Should You Use WordPress’s Network Feature?
Determining whether to use the WordPress multisite feature depends on user access and posting. Each site in the network, although sharing the same codebase and users, is still a self-contained unit. Users still have to access the back end of each site to manage options or post to that site.
You can use multiple sites in a network to give the appearance that only one site exists. Put the same theme on each site, and the visitor doesn’t realize that they are separate. This is a good way to separate sections of a magazine site, using editors for complete sections (sites) but not letting them access other parts of the network or the back end of other sites.
Another factor to consider is how comfortable you are with editing files directly on the server. Setting up the network involves access to the server directly, and ongoing maintenance and support for your users can often lead to the network owner doing the necessary maintenance, which is not for the faint of heart. Generally, you should use a network of sites in the following cases:
You want multiple sites and one installation: You’re a blogger or site owner who wants to maintain another site, possibly with a subdomain or a separate domain, all on one web host. You’re comfortable with some edits to files, you want to work with one codebase to make site maintenance easier, and most of your plugins and themes are accessible to all the sites. You can have one login across the sites and manage each site individually.
You want to host blogs or sites for others: This is a little more involved. You want to set up a network where users can sign up for their own sites or blogs underneath (or part of) your main site and you maintain the technical aspects for them.
Because all files are shared, some aspects have been locked down for security purposes. One of the most puzzling for new users is the suppression of errors. Most PHP errors (say you installed a faulty plugin or incorrectly edited a file) do not output messages to the screen. Instead, the White Screen of Death appears.
Knowing how to find and use error logs and perform general debugging are skills you need when you are managing your own network. Even if your web host will set up the ongoing daily or weekly tasks for you, managing a network can require a steep learning curve.
Although WordPress can be quite powerful, in the following situations the management of multiple sites has its limitations:
One web account is used for the installation. You cannot use multiple hosting accounts.
You want to post to multiple blogs at one time. WordPress will not do this by default.
If you choose subdirectory sites, the main site will regenerate permalinks with /blog/ in it to prevent collisions with subsites. There are existing plugins available to strip this.