Hi All - I'm keen for some information please on the ins and outs of hosting for WP Multisite and the pros and cons of using Multisite as opposed to hosting multiple single instances of WordPress with a Reseller account.
Starting with Multisite, there seems to be a good deal of debate on the web as to whether a VPS is, practically speaking, 'required' for a Multisite set-up or whether a decent shared hosting deal would suffice. It's difficult to know whether the answers some people are giving are influenced by their affiliations with certain hosts. So, the FIRST QUESTION please, is whether a VPS is the best bet for Multisite, or whether a decent shared hosting package (i.e., with high storage and bandwidth allowances) would do the job. I ask given this question given the added cost and complexity of maintaining a VPS. It seems to me that it would be easier to using a decent non-VPS shared hosting package. (I currently have a Reseller account with Autica/Midphase.)
The SECOND QUESTION please is what are the pros and cons of using Multisite as a basis to operate multiple sites/blogs (e.g., for clients) instead of setting up a series of separate WordPress installs. (If I were to do the latter, I'd probably do it with a Reseller type of set-up, with the likes of Autica/Midphase or Media Temple.)
Many thanks in advance for your help.
Sarah Gooding answers:
I had a couple of WordPress Multisite installs hosted with Midphase for awhile on one of their all-you-can-eat bandwidth and storage Shared Hosting packages. I utilized a service that would email me every time one of my sites went down. I would get several notifications per day. Then I switched to VPS and I have never once received a notification. That is because that space is guaranteed.
Shared hosting is by far the most economical but somewhat unreliable. In a shared hosting situation your site will be on the same server with hundreds or possibly thousands of other websites, all sharing in a pool of server resources. You will have significantly fewer freedoms available to you and virtually no control of how your server is managed. Speed and uptime often suffer with shared hosting. There are several shared hosting providers that do not permit Multisite installs, so if you're determined to go this route, you should check before purchasing.
A <strong>Managed VPS</strong> is probably your best option. You won't be responsible for maintaining the server and your hosting administration panel will be very similar to when you were with a shared host. <strong>Unmanaged VPS</strong> is more of a pain, because you have to have systems administration experience to maintain it. <strong>Managed VPS</strong> will run you about $40 - 60/month.
The pros and cons of using Multisite to operate multiple sites/blogs instead of setting up single user installs:
The pros are that they all share the same code base. When WordPress releases new versions and it's time to update the core, you have a one click upgrade process. However, with multiple single installs, you'll have to login to each to update them. If you use Multisite you will have a Super Admin panel where you can instantly access the backend of any of your sites (or your user's sites) without having to know their usernames/passwords. If they are all set up separately as single installs, then you would either have to ask for their login info or change it in the database.
One con when using multisite is that you can have some tricky plugin situations where you might find a plugin that works well with single user installs but is not multisite compatible, meaning that you cannot activate it network-wide. Another con is spam - you will have serious spam to contend with if you open up registration for your Multisite network. If you intend to keep registration closed, then you won't have a problem with this.
There is also a Multisite alternative called WP Hive. I wrote about it here: [[LINK href="http://wpmu.org/introducing-wp-hive-the-wordpress-multisite-alternative/"]]http://wpmu.org/introducing-wp-hive-the-wordpress-multisite-alternative/[[/LINK]] The essential info on WP Hive:
It's a WordPress plugin that allows multiple WordPress sites to run on a single installation. WP Hive is targeted to a single administrator who manages multiple sites, whereas Multisite seems to be targeted to networks of sites where anonymous users register and set up their own sites. In WP Hive, each site in the Hive is an independent WordPress site, so adding or extracting a site to or from the Hive is easier to do since no import tools are required. WP Hive installs like a plugin and is lightweight and simple to use. It also supports domain, subdomain, and subdirectory sites simultaneously. In comparison, Multisite administrators must pick a mode, and a special domain-mapping plugin is required in some cases.
I'm not sure what you're intending to do with your business but WP Hive might be a better option for you than Multisite. Single user WordPress might be better if your intending to promote your hosting reselling capabilities. If you use Multisite and the sites go down, it will be your responsibility as you maintain the core code for all of your sites. If you use single user WP installs then if your user has an issue with his site, it is not your immediate problem. It depends on if you hope for them to maintain their own sites or if you with to provide a convenient, easy setup website option.
In any of these scenarios I highly recommend a Managed VPS hosting setup, simply because you'll be able to promise better up time, which means you can charge more for it.
Thanks very much for your comments Sarah (and Denzel below). Much appreciated. If you don't mind me asking, would you recommend any particular managed VPS provider, preferably with WordPress expertise, a WordPress installer like Fantastico (but could be an alternative like SimpleScripts), cpanel, and the ability to resell (such that each client could, if desired, have its own cpanel access)?
Sarah Gooding comments:
I am currently set up with Managed VPS at [[LINK href="http://itsjusthosting.com/"]]http://itsjusthosting.com/ [[/LINK]] . I don't represent them, nor am I a reseller. I'm speaking from my personal experience. I had a very smooth migration from my old hosting to this one (they do it all for you by making a copy of your cpanel and importing everything). However, I've also heard that Media Temple and Rackspace are also good. :)
Most VPS will have add-ons like Fantastico and a WHMCS [[LINK href="http://www.whmcs.com/"]]http://www.whmcs.com/[[/LINK]] that will enable you to automate your reselling. Each domain will have its own cpanel access. You can easily set all of this up.
Thanks Sarah. I've taken a look at itsjusthosting; looks pretty good. It also seems to be fairly good value in comparison to (or is at least cheaper than...) Rackspace and MT. It seems that itsjusthosting provides for a 'more fully managed' VPS set-up than MT, which (it seems to me at least) is only partially managed. The only dowside I see with itsjusthosting is an additional monthly fee for Fantastico or Installatron (had never heard of Installatron before; presumably it does a good enough job).
Denzel Chia answers:
For the first question, I do not have a VPS account and I am sure most of us do not use one.
I use a share hosting account for my multisite installation, the immediate disadvantage is that shared hosting only allows sub directories and not sub domains. http://example.com/subblog/
However, you can use domain mapping to map a domain name to the sub directory and there will be no difference. User will only see it as a domain and not sub directory, just like what wordpress.com is offering. I do not have VPS so cannot compare the efficiency.
For second question, I do not recommend multisite to manage multi client website. You may think that it will be easy to manage and upgrade because everything is under on roof and as a super admin you can just login once and manage all site. I do not recommend multisite for multi clients, because if there is a script error or your site got hacked, all of your clients will be affected, because they are within the same installation.
However, you can install multisite for each individual client, so that if the client wants more site, you can easily create for them. And you can manage all site of one client together. each client may have their own preference in plugins and themes, therefore multi site for each client ensures consistence in plugins and themes.
Therefore, I recommend separate multisite installation for each individual client.