WordPress MU or WP Hive Plugin for multiple blogs on single installation

Blogging is a great way to create content and bulk up a website. However if you run a couple of blogs, you’ll soon realise that it becomes a nightmare to upgrade them as soon as a new version becomes available. I’m really talking about wordpress here because installing wordpress is really easy and there are millions of themes available for you to change the look and feel of your website.

So in an attempt to have multiple domains powered through just one software installation, I had a go with WordPress MU (multi user). I didn’t know what I was getting into and I now regret it because I’ve spent a whole day trying to make it work. Let me talk about my requirements first:

  1. I want to be able to create different blogs (different topics) easily
  2. I want to be able to upgrade them easily as well
  3. Something which is free (open source)
  4. Ability to map multiple domains on a single software installation
  5. Ability to have different look and feel for all those websites
  6. Ability to use shared hosting to perform the tasks

WordPress MU (WPMU) can do all these things but if you’re on shared hosting, then it becomes a problem because you will need to be able to do wildcard mapping for all subdomains, that is, mapping “*” to the main website. Most shared hosting companies do not allow this and you also need access to modify the VirtualHost component as well (httpd.conf). Although my hosting company did the subdomain wildcard mapping for me so that each new blog is created as a subdomain which forwards to the main script (index.php) to retrieve the relevant data for that blog, I still had to use a plugin to enable multiple domain mapping onto the installation. I couldn’t get it work and it was just too much work considering the drawbacks of wordpress mu which are mainly incompatibility of certain plugins, being a few versions back from the main wordpress software and the difficulty in setting it up in the first place.

To be honest, WordPress MU is too complicated to set up and you’ll probably get so frustrated before you get it to run that you’ll think it’s just not worth the effort (just like me). So I came across this plugin (wp hive) which you can activated and get multiple domains run from one single installation of the normal wordpress software. You don’t need to add wildcard subdomain mapping or do anything complicated. You just install wordpress as normal and install the wp hive plugin. Once activated, you can start adding new domains to your existing wordpress installation. One thing to remember though is that you need to have wp_content writeable before you activate the plugin, otherwise it’s not going to work.

You need to park the additional domains on the same host for it to work as well. Just normal domain parking works and as soon as dns propagation has completed, you will be able to log in to the new domain as if wordpress was install on that domain. Sweet, eh?

So if you want multi domain, multi user, multi blogs, then i recommend wp hive over wordpress mu because of the ease of installation and use.

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