Dabbling with WordPress Multisite

I know I’ve been quiet this week, but that’s because on the gaming side of things, not a whole lot of interesting stuff has been happening. In FFXIV, I continue to run roulettes for Tomes and work on earning stuff for my Relic. And that’s about it (until tomorrow when Pokemon Sun arrives).

I’ve actually been more inspired to work with art and creative projects this week. For one, I’ve been posting a lot of old art and responding to questions about Sygnus projects on my Tumblr. And second, I’ve been dabbling in WordPress Multisite.

Some of you may know that I host several WordPress sites for many different projects including:

  • Nefol
  • Runne
  • Zot
  • Darkstar
  • Wayrift
  • Sygnus.org
  • Dreigiau
  • and this blog…

As you can guess, that’s a lot of WordPress sites to keep updated and maintain.

The Inode Issue

The problem I’m running up against lately isn’t so much taking care of so many installs, but rather hitting my hosting service’s cap for inodes. Now, an inode is just a fancy way of saying the number of files and folders stored on my host. Up until lately, we’ve been under the max needed to allow for a site backup, which is 100,000 inodes.

Well, a few weeks ago, I was checking my cPanel and realized we had well exceeded that number, so the sites were no longer being backed up! To make matters more troubling, if the inode count reaches 200,000, the host has a right to refuse to host my sites. Yikes!

So, I needed to find a way to cut back on files and fast.

I did this in several ways, including deleting unused themes, deleting disabled plugins, deleting duplicate image files that I never removed when I moved this blog from Sygnus.org to Aywren.com. This was enough to get us back under 100,000 inodes and out of trouble.

But still, it’s really not enough. I mean, Jetpack itself uses over 1,000 inodes for each install I’m running! I knew I needed to cut back more.

The Multisite Solution

So, I thought about consolidating all my projects into Sygnus.org. Afterall, many sites were already using a sub-domain URL of that domain. But the thing is that each site needs its own look and feel, and it would be a real pain to merge them all into one WordPress site and keep the current aesthetics.

That’s when I stumbled upon WordPress multisite (which I knew about from years ago, but forgot about). At the time, multisite was often used for something like BuddyPress, which I messed around with a bit. I didn’t consider using it for something like a network of blogs that all share the same plugins, theme files and database… but that’s exactly what it does.

For more information:

This was surprisingly easy to do (as long as you have access to files through a FTP program or such). Just editing a few files was all it took to flip the switch, and suddenly, Sygnus.org could host as many blogs with shared resources as I have room for!

The wonderful thing is that they all look and behave like individual WordPress installs. But maintenance is so much easier because you only need to update plugins, themes and WordPress itself on the network to update all the sites at once!

I’ve slowly been consolidating sites there, as it does take some time in exporting, importing, and especially moving image files. Once you FTP files to their new location, they won’t appear in your media section until you add them from your server using a plugin like this one. This is a manual bit of work, but it does what’s needed, and that’s what matters.

It’s lovely that Sygnus.org remains the master domain while Darkstar, Nefol and Runne have been consolidated into the multisite setup. As you can see, they use different themes and different settings, and look exactly the way they did when they were hosted separately!

This has improved the inode situation some… though we’re still sitting at over 80K files. Consolidating has knocked off about 10K, which is good. I still have one more site to consolidate, which will be a large move due to hosting a webcomic, but overall, I’m happy with how this is turning out.