Install WordPress with Multiple Domains or Subdomains


To change WordPress from the standard single site install to a WordPress Multisite which allows you to create a network of sites you need to:

  1. Update your wp-config.php file.
  2. Choose the structure of your Multisite in terms of whether you want to use sub-domains or sub-directories.
  3. Add the extra lines your WordPress installation generates into your wp-config.php.
  4. Add the generated mod_rewrite rules to your .htaccess file, replacing other WordPress rules.

You do this as follows:

Updating your wp-config.php file

  1. Locate your wp-config.php file on your hard drive.
  2. Open your wp-config.php file for editing.
  3. Add the following line to your wp-config.php file:
define('WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true);

above where it says /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */:

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4. Save your new wp-config.php file and upload your new wp-config.php file using FTP into your public_html folder.

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5. When you log on to your site you should now see that Network Setup has been added underneath your Tools menu item.

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Setting up your sub-domains or sub-directories

1. Now go to Tools > Network Setup and choose whether you want to use sub-domains or sub-directories

  • Choose wisely as you can’t change this later
  • Contact your host first if you want to use sub-domains to ask if they are able to set up Wildcard DNS records for your site as not all hosting companies support this option

If you are installing it on your localhost, then you cannot create a sub-domains. You are only allowed to create a sub-directories.

a. Sub- domains

If you want to use sub-domains you will need to contact your host and ask them to set up Wildcard DNS records for your site.

  • Sub-domains have site URLs like site1.domain.com and site2.domain.com
  • Not all companies allow you to use sub-domains and you need to check with your hosting company before choosing this option.

b. Sub-directories

This is the easier option because you don’t need to get your hosting company to set up Wildcard DNS records for your site.

  • Sub-directories have site URLs like domain.com/site1 and domain.com/site2
  • Once you have chosen between sub-domains or sub-directories and double-checked all details are correct then click Install.
  • Your Apache mod_rewrite should have already been enabled by your hosting provider so this is something that you generally don’t need to worry about or deal with.

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3. Once you’ve clicked Install you should see a page titled Enabling the Network with further instructions for creating your network.

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4. Before you commence the next step create a backup of your wp-config.php and .htaccess file by downloading them onto your hard  drive.

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Add the extra lines your WordPress installation generates into your wp-config.php

1. Add the supplied code for your wp-config.php file from the ‘Enabling the Network’ page above the line reading /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */

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2. Save your new wp-config.php file and upload it using FTP into your public_html folder.

Add the generated mod_rewrite rules to your .htaccess file, replacing other WordPress rules.

1. Add the supplied rules for your .htaccess file from the ‘Enabling the Network’ page to replace all other WordPress rules in the .htaccess file with the supplied code.

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2. Save your new .htaccess file and upload it using FTP into your public_html folder.

Checking out your Network Admin dashboard area

Once you have completed all these steps and uploaded all files you will need to log back into your website. You should now see the Network Admin link in the My Sites dropdown menu on your WordPress admin bar.

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Once in the Network Admin dashboard you can quickly change back to the “Site Admin” Dashboard, by clicking on the dashboard link to any of your sites under My Sites.

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The Network Admin Dashboard

The “Network Admin” dashboard is a separate dashboard area for all Network Management on a WordPress Multisite install; this is where you access your Super Admin area.

The “Network Admin” link is only viewable and  accessible to users who have been granted Super Admin privileges for the Network.

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You access the “Network Admin” link via the My Sites dropdown menu on your WordPress admin bar.

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