WordPress Multisite

We recently onboarded a client with an existing WordPress install that was initially set up as Multisite. The only reason I can figure the original developer did this was to retain superuser control while giving the site owner administrator access. Not the best way to manage user privileges but I guess it worked as a quick-n-dirty fix at the time.

Setup that way it added an extra level of awkwardness working in the backend and also conflicted with some of our go-to site management plugins.

There’s not much documentation on reverting from a multisite install so I’ll share what works for us. Removing it is basically undoing the work to creating it.

Backup Your Site.

Better safe than sorry. Create a full backup. If you have any of our Site Care Plans, this step is covered

Edit wp-config

Log in to your site via FTP, SFTP or Cpanel to access your root directory files.

Open your wp-config.php and remove the following lines:

You will also need to edit the following line in your wp-config.php file and set it to “false”:

Edit .htaccess File

Next, you will need to edit your .htaccess file, which is also in the root of your WordPress install. Replace the rules you added to create your Multisite install with the following new rules:
Take care not to remove any sections created by other plugins such as caching plugins, When in doubt, ask us.

Drop Database Tables

Lastly, you will need to drop the following global tables in your database. phpMyAdmin is probably the easiest software to do this with if you use cPanel, though you can use whatever method you like:

  • wp_blogs
  • wp_blog_versions
  • wp_registration_log
  • wp_signups
  • wp_site
  • wp_sitemeta

Delete Multisite Specific Plugins

We had a few multisite specific plugins to do things like clone sites. Now is a good time to go through your list of plugins and delete what you no longer need.

Remove Unnecessary folders from wp-content

A step many people forget is to remove unnecessary folders from the wp-contentdirectory. Multisite creates a folder titled blogs.dir in wp-content. When Multisite is enabled, the blogs.dir directory has folders for each site where uploads for that site are stored. So we can delete blogs.dir now.

Reactivate Plugins That Were Previously Network Activated

This is a step that is easy to miss. there was a number of plugins network activated. Well, when you disable multisite, you remove the network activation features, and those plugins are now inactive on your main site. So you need to go back and activate those you still want to use.


Congratulations, you are done! You have successfully deactivated WordPress Multisite, and you’ve probably give your website some needed spring cleaning while you were at it.

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  1. Christopher on August 13, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    The line `$base = ‘/wordpress/’;` is not in my wp-config.php file.

  2. Christopher on August 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    This is an awesome tutorial!

    • Ed Holtzman on August 14, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Did everything work out, Chris?

      I’ve seen variations of the WP-CONFIG line: $base = ‘/wordpress/’; depending on the install

  3. Sara Kahlau on March 31, 2019 at 1:10 am

    Thank you for this brilliant tutorial! I have ZERO coding experience and now successfully achieved this. SiteGround wasn’t willing to help me fix this and I didn’t want to spend on development support 🙂 Thank you so much!

  4. Debra Ferguson on July 3, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    Awesome! Worked GREAT! Thank you.

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