For starters there are a number of different ways to manage more than one blog (and I’m talking about self-hosted WordPress installs here) on any given hosting provider and it truly depends on your end goal and how you specifically want to manage your systems – I’m all for whatever works the best for you!
Here are just a few of the many handful of the options scaling from complete independence to some shared scenarios:
- Complete Autonomy – Install each WordPress blog on it’s own server and hosting with it’s own system installation and with it’s own FTP username and password credentials and with it’s own unique mySQL database (uID/pass).
- Semi-Autonomous - Some people separate the web layer and the database layer and split resources between multiple server environments. This is a complicated system but could be beneficial depending on your needs.
- One Host, Separate Credentials - Many people choose to use one hosting provider and have all of their installations on that one hosting provider sharing resources but having independent installations, especially regarding FTP access.
- One Host, Shared Credentials - Many more choose one blog hosting provider with all of their installations independent but with one master FTP user ID controlling all of the systems.
- Specific Shared Resources – Some people choose to do separate installations and share the same mySQL database (which they optimized heavily) or share one or more consistent credentials for access.
- Root with Sub Folders, Sub Domains - Some create one master FTP with blogs installed on sub folders or sub domains with .htaccess redirects or DNS Zone File manipulation. This is essentially a more manual (but controllable) version of #7, MU installation.
- Multi-User Installation - Some choose to do one hosting provider with one installation but activating the multi-user feature in WordPress 3.0+ that allows a user to have multiple blogs with simple management. This is also called “Network” installation.
- Crazy Config - I call this the “crazy” config and it’s the bucket of installation types that you have created yourself, either through advanced wizardry or a frankenstein-ish touch. Good luck homeboy.
As I mentioned previously you may have one of the above configurations or you may have customized your own – the choice is really up to you and is largely dependent on your particular needs.
It’s also good to note that the most secure and safe installation scenario scales from the first option to the last option – it’s far better to have one host and one blog installation compromised with one set of credentials than to have one set of credentials give an intruder access to your entire collection of blogs (and more!).
What I Do For My WordPress Blogs
What I’ve chosen to do is a combination of #2 and #3 which gives me the flexibility of sharing specific resources (like a single optimized database for some installations, Content Delivery Network, and security software) and the cost savings and security measures in place.
I’ve already shared my WordPress Hosting Setup as well with the details on what I run.
What this looks like though is the following:
- One Web Hosting provider
- Separate and completely independent WordPress installations
- Separate mySQL databases with unique uIDs and passwords
- Unique SFTP credentials for each blog
As you can see I have a lot of different connections to different installations and even though this blog and a few others listed in the un-blurred section are on the same web host I access them independently with different credentials.
Although I’ve listed out the above reasons of why I do this I feel there are a few other reasons I feel this is one of the better approaches to managing multiple self-hosted WordPress installations:
- Minimizes Failure – Having a single point of failure (security or software) is dangerous and by having multiple independent installs is helpful. If you “break” a WordPress Theme or WordPress Plugin on one install it doesn’t completely kill the rest of your blogs.
- Debugging and Resource Management – Having independent installations can help you analyze resource management and debug issues.
- Web Analytics – Managing analytics and web traffic patterns is a bit easier as it can be difficult to segment out if you have too simple of an installation.
- Separate Business, Brand – One of the nice things about having separate installs is you can treat them more appropriate (and easily) as separate entities, businesses, and brands, especially if you want to sell one off to someone else. For example, trying to extract the information via a multi-user install can be a pain when it will impact the other blogs!
- Migration - This goes with the above point as well but having separate installs will ease the pain and challenge of migration if you ever have to do it.
- Compatibility - Some WordPress Plugins and Themes are simply not equipped or created to handle certain scenarios, like the multi-user installation.
Those are some of the chief reasons that I choose a relatively autonomous and independent environment.
What about you? What do you use and why? Love to hear your thoughts!
And, of course, if you have any other questions feel free to ask me here and I’ll try to answer them directly or through a blog post like this!
[Image via Creative Commons, helico.]