The Surprising Truth About Multisites – Why Experts Say Avoid It

What’s so appealing about having a multisite?

Many website owners are tempted by multisite – the idea of hosting multiple sub-sites under a single main site – as a cost-saving measure. The allure is obvious: you can host unlimited websites for the price of one. Seems too good to pass up, right?

Well, the experts at WPX Hosting are here to tell you otherwise. Yes, we understand there’s an appeal to cramming sites together to save on hosting fees, but we always advise against going the multisite route.

Sure, it may look affordable on the surface. But there are some surprising drawbacks and risks with running multisite that actually make it a poor choice, especially as your sites grow. 

In this article, we’ll break down the main disadvantages our team has witnessed with multisites over the years. Read on to understand why you should avoid falling into this trap.

What is a Multisite?

Multisite refers to configuring a single website to “host” multiple websites (or sub-sites). Instead of each site having dedicated resources allocated to it, everything is shared across all the sub-sites, essentially all of them sharing the resources of the main site.

The main site stores all the website files, handles all the traffic and uses the same database, RAM, and CPUs resources for potentially unlimited sub-sites. Basically, you take the resources that are appropriate for one site and divide them up to all of the sub-sites.

But this approach leads to some big performance, security and management issues down the line, especially as your site portfolio and traffic grow over time.

multisite

The Hidden Downsides of Multisite Hosting

At first glance, unlimited sites for cheap seems innovative. But in practice, hosting multisites comes with some ugly baggage most customers fail to consider. Let’s explore why it causes more problems than it solves.

Security Vulnerabilities and Increased Risks

Squeezing a bunch of sites together under a single main site expands the attack surface for hackers to exploit. If they find their way into the main site, the door gets kicked open to compromise all of the sub-sites. Not an ideal scenario.

Plugins, Themes and other addons are shared through the whole multisite “network” and if one gets compromised you guessed it, they all get compromised.

Overall, hosting multisites simply creates way more vulnerabilities and leaves sites much more open to attacks or exploits. For us, that’s a deal breaker. Security should be the top priority.

Resource Limitations Leading to Poor Performance

Server resources like CPU, RAM, and bandwidth get split across ALL the websites. As you cram more sites in, each one gets fewer scraps to operate on.

This contributes to frequent resource exhaustion issues. Ever notice sites grind to a halt during peak traffic? Now you know why! Fewer resources per site also limit performance optimization capabilities for site owners.

No one wants a laggy, slow-loading site – but that’s exactly what you invite with multisite hosting packages.

Compatibility Issues and Plugin Limitations

Running multiple websites under one leads to all kinds of compatibility headaches. Software that plays nice on one site may conflict with something running on another one. Ever dealt with fatal error messages that seem impossible to fix? We have – too often!

You also can run into issues with plugins on multisite environments. If you want one plugin installed on one site, you have to install it in the multisite network so it can be used. So, getting sites set up properly requires choosing only compatible plugins.

This severely restricts the customizations and functionality site owners can implement. You may have to skip that perfect SEO plugin due to technical barriers.

Migrations Are a Pain

Migrating even a single site can be tedious. Now, this isn’t an issue for customers using WPX’s managed hosting services. We migrate all our clients’ sites and even offer unlimited free migrations. 

But for those migrating multisite environments, good luck with that! Imagine the complexity of trying to wrangle 10 or 20 sites at once off! An absolute nightmare! All of the using the same database, setting up the multisite network on the new hosting is also a lot of busy work and if you don’t have the help of the support team – talk about impossible.

And good luck properly backing up that tangled web of interconnected sites, databases, users, and permissions. It’s certainly possible but requires technical expertise beyond most users.

Alright, so now we’ve covered the main pitfalls – let’s talk alternatives…

The Smart Alternative

By now, you’ve heard us harp plenty about the disadvantages of having a multisite . Fair enough! But rather than only point out the flaws in other approaches, we also want to highlight the benefits of our alternative, managed WordPress Hosting.

It will take you a bit more time to setup individual sites and it might be a bit more hard setting things up initially but in the end you’ll be thankful to yourself for that extra effort.

It will bring a lot more positives like increased security, even if one of your sites gets hacked into, you don’t need to worry about the others and can focus your efforts on cleaning the one.

Your resources will be used accordingly and each site will have all of it’s own allocated resources.

Not to mention migrations becoming easier and can even be handled by plugins. Although it’s not the best option, but this is a topic for another time.

WPX also takes things to the next level and gives even more stability.

Enhanced Security Protections

WPX takes a multi-layered approach to secure sites, including regular malware scans, DDoS mitigation, intrusion detection, and other enterprise-grade security foundations. We lock the doors to keep threats out rather than inviting problems via resource sharing.

Dedicated and Scalable Resources

We allocate dedicated resources for each site we host to deliver consistently fast speeds, avoiding the performance-degrading effects of overcrowded servers. WPX also allows easy vertical and horizontal scaling to accommodate site growth.

Specialized WP Support

WPX provides specialized support from WordPress experts who breathe our favorite CMS every day. We don’t dabble in website hosting – we specifically built our architecture for WordPress, meaning no challenge is too niche or complicated for our team.

The Final Verdict – Skip the Multisite Trap

The bottom line is that packing too many sites together on barebones servers creates a fertile ground for disasters waiting to happen.

Instead, why not enjoy the benefits of better security, optimized performance, dedicated and scalable resources, and specialized WordPress support for your site. Our Managed WordPress hosting checks all the boxes where other configurations fall short. Let us properly care for and power your WordPress sites.

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Vladimir Nenkovski
Vladimir Nenkovski

Vladimir is the lead of the WPX WooCommerce project. His long journey as a Technical Support Team Manager introduced him to all kinds of WordPress and WooCommerce services and their impact on your website. If there is a solution to a better performing website, he will find it.

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