How to Convert Multisite to Single Site WordPress

WordPress is the most flexible platform. The Content Management System (CMS), is the backbone of many websites and networks. WordPress.com is powered by WordPress Multisite, which allows for network installations. This is a testimony to the platform’s power. In some cases, however, you may want to migrate WordPress Multisite installations to one site. This can be difficult in certain areas.

Because Multisite installations have some fundamental differences, you will need to use a different approach. Once you have the process down, it will be easy to transfer your site.

This How to Convert a WordPress Multisite to a Single Site article will show you how to transfer a WordPress Multisite installation to one site. Let’s first give you a brief overview of WordPress Multisite and what it does.

How to Convert Multisite to Single Site WordPress

A primer on WordPress Multisite

WordPress Multisite allows you to create multiple sites in a network. Each site may be unique, but they all share the same core files. Sites may share plugins and themes in some cases.

The main difference is that each site acts as a virtual copy or duplicate of the primary installation. This means that each site will not have a separate directory, as it does for individual WordPress sites. Each site will have a media uploads folder as well as a separate table within the database.

WordPress.com is a great example of the power of WordPress Multisite.

This network is, of course, a large number of WordPress websites and gives the CMS the distinction as the most used platform to publish websites. However, it is much more difficult to move from a WordPress Multisite site network to a single one than simple website migration.

Why Multisite Migration is more complicated than standard site migration

WordPress Mutisite and single site use the same base files, but there is no fundamental difference. You will need to plan how you want to remove your site from the network.

While there are many benefits to operating a Multisite network such as efficiency, productivity, and overall effectiveness, these benefits won’t apply if you have to ‘free’ your site from the nest. For the following reasons, you should think about how to move it.

  • Your site does not store its core files in its own directory. It’s instead a centralized system with your site acting like a virtual copy.
  • Themes and plugins can also be found in the central uploads folder. Although sites can use the theme in principle, you cannot take the assets with you.
  • The majority of the site’s data is stored in a particular database table. While this is a good option in certain cases, it doesn’t allow you to access the root database table.
  • Users accounts function in a slightly different way. Every account is global. This means that a user can access any site in the network with the correct permissions. This means that you cannot export a list and import users as you would for a single site.

All of these points may be considered benefits of WordPress Multisite in another context. These apparent drawbacks are easy to overcome.

How to Convert Multisite to Single Site WordPress

Different steps are required to convert a WordPress Multisite site. These steps differ from other migration workflows. These are the steps that we will cover in this article:

  • Perform the migration of your website.
  • Move your users to your single site.
  • Move your domain name to your new site.
  • Finish the migration.

Although it may not seem complicated, there are many situations where you will need to make key decisions and reflect on what you are doing. All of this will be covered, beginning with the migration.

1. Migration of the WordPress Multisite Instance to a Single Install

First, you need to decide how you will migrate your site from WordPress Multisite. Although WordPress plugins will be available to assist you, you still need to make decisions. We believe a manual approach to the process is best.

This is an easy way to convert your website if you already have Duplicator PRO or similar premium migration tools. You’ll still need the steps to move users to your single installation with this route.

You can copy three elements from WordPress Multisite to your one-install:

  • These are the database tables that relate to your site.
  • Your plugin and theme files.
  • Upload your media to the uploads folder

Your uploads will be in a separate folder if you created your site prior to WordPress 3.5 (although we’ll explain it in a moment).

Because of the complexity of this process, we recommend that you perform a full and clean backup. After you’ve done this, go to the WordPress dashboard and the Network Administrator > Sites screen.

This will display a list all the sites in the network. Although you won’t be able to see it, you will need to locate the ID of your site. This will come in handy later when you start digging into your database structure.

To find the ID quickly, hover over the site you are interested in and then look at your status bar at bottom of your browser.

This information will be important to remember for future reference. Next, you will need to move your assets.

Migrate Plugins, Themes, and Uploads

For this tutorial we will be working in a local environment. We recommend that you first install the Multisite instance on your computer to ensure it works. Although we won’t be using it in this article you may need to use Secure File Transfer Protocol to move certain files from your installation.

You will need to download the WP-content/plugins folder, which you can then upload to your new website. You can usually drag and drop the folder onto the new site. You can also do the same with your themes. This is the same as with plugins but you will need to use the /wp-content/themes folder.

For your site’s media, you’ll want to use the ID from earlier to find your website within the Multisite network’s wp-content/uploads/sites folder. It can be confusing because you may have multiple versions of certain assets or structures.

In this example, the ID for the site we wish to work with is “3”. As such, the path will be wp-content/uploads/sites/3:

You should search for the blog.dir folder for older WordPress versions (pre-3.5). This folder will contain a /files section, which contains the media assets.

Copy and paste the uploads folder from your Multisite instance as before. You don’t need a site folder. All files and folders in your Multisite instance must go into the top directory (i.e. wp-content/uploads).

Your files and folders will now be in their proper places. Next, we need to transfer your database.

Get the Database of Your Site

Before you move on to the next step, ensure that you are familiar with and your WordPress database. Once you are familiar with the basics, it will be easy to use a new interface.

You may be able to choose a database manager – in this case it is admin, although phpMyAdmin might also be popular. Both solutions will work in a similar way.

Multisite databases have many tables. Each table corresponds to a site within the network. The ID is incorporated into the name. In this example, we are looking for a HTML3_ prefix. These tables can be found by clicking the Export button in Adminer.

You can choose the tables you want to export from phpMyAdmin. Next, select the Quick choice and click Get.

Adminer users will see a selection screen. Select all tables you wish to save and click Export.

Both cases will download the file to your computer. Next, you will need to edit the file.

Modify Your Database SQL File

You will need to use your preferred code editor for this step. This will make it easier. You will first need to duplicate the SQL file. Give it a descriptive name. You can often add “copy” to the file. After opening it, look for links that refer to Multisite instances. If you find one, change it to the URL of your new site.

Do the same for wp_[id]. You can modify the prefix to . After you have done both, save the file and then import it into your new WordPress installation.

Transfer the database to your new site

Importing your database is the same as exporting it. However, you’ll need to drop’ any tables from your new website (other than users and usermeta). Simply put, you need to delete them. Log into your new site’s database and select all tables. Then, click the Drop button. It will appear in the With selected drop-down menu. It’s located at the bottom for Adminer:

Next, click on the Import tab or link:

Select your modified SQL file from the dialog and click on the button to start the migration process. This process may take some time to complete, but you will be able to move on to migrating users once you have received confirmation.

2. Transfer your users from the Multisite to a Single Install

Unfortunately, the database does not allow users to be separated for each site in the network. This means that you will often need to migrate users one by one. However, this could prove tedious so a plugin could be a better option. This is where the Import and Export WordPress Users plugin excels.

It is as easy as this:

  • Both your Multisite instance and your new site should install the plugin.
  • On the Multisite instance, access the Users > Import page.
  • To download a CSV file containing your users, click the Export button
  • Navigate to your site and then go to the Users> User Import Export page.
  • Click the Customer Import tab to select your CSV file and click the Upload button.

After the upload is completed, you can delete both plugins. This is an excellent solution if there are many (i.e. If you have a large number (or prohibitive amount) users to migrate. There’s still one major step before you can declare the migration complete.

3. Change your domain name from WordPress Multisite to a Single Installation

Before you sign off, make sure your domain name points to correct site. Here are some situations to be aware of:

  • Domain mapping may be used for Multisite instances. To put it simply, if your site uses a domain or subdirectory you can map a Top Level Domain (TLD), such as example.com to it.
  • It will be easier to use the subdomain URL and subdirectory URL instead of your main web address. The process for mapping a new URL is similar to that used for existing sites.

You will need to ensure that your new WordPress website points at the correct domain. This can be checked by going to the Settings page > General of your new website’s dashboard. Look at the WordPress address (URL) as well as the Site Address(URL) fields.

Both should be clear: If both are correct, they will contain the URL of your site. Make the necessary modifications and save them.

4. Finalize Site Migration

Before you call it a day, there are some additional ‘cleanup’ steps that you need to do. This involves checking your site for any changes.

  • Clear your browser cache first to ensure you don’t see any details from the previous site.
  • Next, log in to your new website and verify that all is working properly, including links.
  • If necessary, push your local site to your live web server.
  • You can delete your Multisite site. This can be done through the Network Administrator screen. It is similar to adding a site.

You will need to transfer users to your new website and change your domain. We’ll show you how to do it next.

Wrapping up How to Convert Multisite to Single Site WordPress

A WordPress Multisite installation can help you spend more time managing your site than doing administrative tasks. Although there are many benefits to the multisite installation, it can be difficult to get your site off the network.

This post will show you how to migrate WordPress Multisite to one install. Because WordPress Multisite is a core installation, your process will be different. With some planning and forethought you can reach your goals.

Are you looking to migrate from WordPress Multisite to one site? If so, why? Please leave your comments below!

Leave a Reply