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How to Split WordPress Multisite into Single Installations

How to Split WordPress Multisite into Single Installations

The multisite is a great feature that has been introduced since the WordPress version of 3.0. With it, you are allowed to start a branch of sites with a single WordPress installation and the same web server either using sub-domains or the directories. However, it is possible that you want to split WordPress multisite into some individual and independent websites, especially when some single sites outgrow your network and require more server resources.

In the following, we’d like to introduce the detailed guidance about how to split your multisite in an easy manner.

Step 1 – Backup Everything

Before you make anything changes on your WordPress site, this is a critical step that you have to do. After all, it is possible that there might be something wrong during the process, such as the web server crash, power outage and hacker invasion. If you do not have a backup file, these cases can give you a big trouble.

In this case, you must back up your WordPress site before splitting the multisite network.

Step 2 – Export the Single Website

Now, you need to enter your WordPress admin and click the My Sites button. In the drop-down menu, you can check all your sub-sites along with their own dashboards. Here, you need to choose your target option that needs to be split from the main site, and click its Dashboard button.

Single Site Dashboard

Then, you can make use of the default export feature that works fine for both multisite and the single site. Here, you simply need to click the Tools tab in the left-hand column and hit the Export button. In the next page, you are allowed to export the whole contents on your site that include posts, pages, custom fields, comments, custom posts, navigation and many more.

Export WordPress Site

After clicking the Download Export File button, the export tool will generate the XML file automatically that contains all your website data. What you should do is to download the file to your computer.

Besides, as this file does not include the data of your current theme and plugins. Therefore, you need to copy the related folders and files manually. To do this, you firstly need to connect your site with the FTP client, and you can find your targets from the wp-content directory. Simply download them to your local computer.

wp-content Directory

Step 3 – Import the XML File to the New WordPress Installation

Now, whether you are going to purchase another WordPress hosting or continue using your current server, you need to create a new WordPress installation which simply takes you a few minutes with the 1-click script installer.

After that, you should log into its admin and remove the sample post, page and comment published automatically during the installation process. Also, you need to check the permalink structure to figure out whether the settings can match your splitting site.

Then, you can go to the Tools tab and click the Import button. Here, you can be presented with a list of import options. Simply click the WordPress option.

Import WordPress Button

Next, you can find a pop-up window that requires you to install the WordPress Importer plugin. Click the Install Now button and activate it.

In the next page, you will be required to upload the XML file that you have downloaded in the step 2.

Upload Import File

Upon finishing, you now need to decide the author settings. Here, you have three options.

  • Import all the author information associated with your blog posts.
  • Reassign all your posts to the existing users on your current WordPress installation.
  • Create new users with random passwords and assign your posts to them.

After deciding the authors, you also need to tick the box that allows the downloading and importing of file attachments. This way, you can display all your images and media for your posts and pages with the correct structure and positioning.

Assign Authors

Now, you only need to wait sometimes for the completion of importing. Once down, you can find the following screenshot.

Import Successfully

Step 4 – Import the Themes and Plugins Files

As for this part, you can install and activate your currently used them and plugins from scratch. However, if you do not want to do this, you can also upload the related files that are saved in the step 2.

Here, you still need to use a FTP client and connect it with your site. Then, you should upload your downloaded files into the themes folder and the plugins folder from the wp-content directory respectively. After that, you should go back to the setting pages of them for activation and proper reconfiguration.

Step 5 – Check the Redirection

It is possible that you may use the sub-domains or directories for each site of your multisite network, but not some custom domains. If you are in this case, you have to set up the redirection, leading your readers from the old site to your new site.

To achieve this, you need to edit the .htaccess with the following coding stuff for your WordPress multisite.

Redirect from Sub-Domains

Code for Redirecting from Sub-Domains

Redirect from Directory

Code for Redirecting from Directory

Step 6 – Deactivate the Multisite Function

If you make sure that everything is fine with your newly installed WordPress site, you now need to go back to your multisite network again, find your splitting site and click the Deactivate button. Here, do not click the Delete button. This way, if your single site goes wrong later, you can roll back to the previous situation easily.