Set up WordPress Multisite with Cloud Sites

  • Last updated on: 2016-06-23
  • Authored by: Thomas Hester

WordPress Multisite, which prior to version 3.0 of WordPress was known as WordPress MultiUser (MU), enables you to manage multiple WordPress sites from a single networked WordPress control panel. All of these sites use the same database, themes, plug-ins and file structure to keep everything localized to a single installation. You can deploy sites quickly with the same plug-ins, themes, and template as other sites. As a result, sites are easier to manage and you have more control over site content.

This article explains how to set up WordPress Multisite by leveraging Cloud Sites and Cloud Databases.

Note: For scalability reasons, this article assumes the use of a Cloud Databases instance to better manage the connections. Database instances range in price, but the recommended starting memory size is 1 GB.

Set up a Cloud Databases instance and install WordPress

Set up a Cloud Databases instance

Set up a Cloud Databases instance that meets the following criteria:

  • Located in the same data center as the Cloud Sites account
  • 1 GB of memory (which can later be increased if needed)

The disk space depends on the size of the database, taking into account that it might grow over time. For more information about setting up a Cloud Databases instance, review the following articles:

Install WordPress

Install WordPress on a Cloud Sites website. This site is the primary domain you will be hosting on WordPress Multisite, and it will serve as the Network Admin and main page. For more information about adding a site to your Cloud Sites control panel and installing WordPress, see the following articles:

Note: For this specific installation, we do not recommend the use of the one-click installer.

Configure WordPress

Adjust the WordPress address URL

In the WordPress Administration console, go to Settings and change the WordPress Address (URL) value to use http://yourDomain. Remove the www from the URL if it’s not already set this way. For example:

Allow WordPress Multisite in wp-config.php

  1. In the root WordPress installation directory, locate the wp-config.php file and open it in a text editor.
  2. Locate the line /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */.
  3. Above that line, add the following line:

    define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );

Set up the Multisite network

  1. In WordPress, go to the admin area, click the Tools menu, and then click Network Setup.

    Note: If you are unable to see the Network Setup option, ensure that the wp-config.php file has been set to allow WordPress Multisite, as described in the previous step.

  2. Under Addresses of Sites in your Network, select the Subdomains value if you plan to use domain mapping for multiple URLs. This will make managing the urls easier.
    • Under Addresses of Sites in your Network, select the Subdomains value if you plan to use domain mapping for multiple URLs. This will make managing the urls easier.
    • Under Network Details, enter values for the Network Title and Network Admin Email address.
  3. Click Install.

Establish the network

  1. In the pathToYourSite/web/content folder, open the wp-config.php file.
  2. Locate the line \* That's all, stop editing! Happy blogging. \*/
  3. Above the line, add the following lines:

    define ('MULTISITE', true);
    define ('SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', true);
    define ('DOMAIN_CURRENT_SITE', '');
    define ('PATH_CURRENT_SITE', '/');
    define ('SITE_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1);
    define ('BLOG_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1);
  4. Add the following to your .htaccess file in /PATH/TO/YOUR/SITE/web/content, replacing other WordPress rules. Keep in mind that this may differ if you use sub-directories for the network instead of subdomains:

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
    # add a trailing slash to /wp-admin
    RewriteRule ^wp-admin$ wp-admin/ [R=301,L]
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -f [OR]
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -d
    RewriteRule ^ - [L]
    RewriteRule ^(wp-(content|admin|includes).*) $1 [L]
    RewriteRule ^(.*\.php)$ wp/$1 [L]
    RewriteRule . index.php [L]

    Note: If you do not have an .htaccess file, you can create a file called .htaccess by using an FTP client such as Filezilla. For more information about .htaccess files, see Rackspace Cloud Essentials 5 - Tips and Tricks for .htaccess and web.config.

  5. Add the following block of rules to your .htaccess file to force the pages to redirect to non-www versions of the domain:

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.(.*)$ [NC]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://%1/$1 [R=301,L]
  6. Log out of the WordPress Administration console, and then log back in.

Note: Because of the way Cloud Sites works, each site that you need to have managed by the main Multisite installation must be created as an alias. The aliased domain, added through the Cloud Sites Control Panel, must have the primary Multisite domain as its target. For more information about how to add an alias, see Getting Started With Cloud Sites - Creating Sub-domains and/or Domain Aliases.

If you want to map full domains to your multisite entries rather than using subdomains or subfolders in the URL, continue to the next section.

Install the WordPress MU Domain Mapping plug-in

After you log back in to the WordPress Administration console, install the WordPress MU Domain Mapping plug-in, as follows:

  1. Go to My Sites > Network Admin > Plugins.

  2. Click the Add New button.

  3. Search for WordPress MU Domain Mapping.

  4. Click Install Now.

  5. Activate the plug-in by clicking Network Activate.

Configure the Domain Mapping plug-in

  1. Copy the ../wp-content/plugins/wordpress-mu-domain-mapping/sunrise.php file to the wp-content/ folder.

  2. In the wp-config.php file, insert the following line above the /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */ line:

    define( 'SUNRISE', 'on' );
  3. In the WordPress Administration console, click Settings > Domain Mapping.

  4. Set the Server IP Address value to the current site’s IP address.

    Note: You can find the site’s IP address in the Cloud Sites Control Panel, on the General Settings tab or the DNS tab (for SSL-enabled sites).

  5. Under Domain Options, select only the check boxes for ‘Permanent redirect (better for your blogger’s pagerank)’ and ‘User domain mapping page’. Ensure that the other check boxes are clear and then click Save.

Add sites to the WordPress network

The final step in this process is to add sites to your WordPress network. To do so, perform the following steps:

The Edit Site page opens. In the address bar, the URL should look similar to

  1. In the WordPress Administration console, click My Sites > Network Admin > Sites.
  2. Click Add New.
  3. Enter the information for the site that you want to add to the network.
  4. Click Add Site.
  5. Go back to the Sites list by clicking on Sites > All Sites in the left navigation pane.
  6. From the list, click the site you just added.
  7. Note the number that follows after ?id=. This is the site’s ID number, and you will need it in the next steps.
  8. In the navigation pane, click on Settings > Domains.
  9. Under New Domain, in the Site ID field enter the number that you obtained from the URL.
  10. Clear the Primary check box.
  11. Click Save.

    Note: It is necessary to use the domain without the www. If you are using a subdomain, use only the subdomain (for example,

Repeat the steps from this section for any other sites that you want to add to the WordPress Multisite network. Remember to add your alias.

You can make adjustments, such as using www instead of non-www. This change, however, will require a different URL rewrite in the .htaccess file to force to www versions, which will then cause any subdomains to not map correctly because using www with subdomains does not work in Cloud Sites.

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