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How to Move a Site from WordPress Multisite to Single Install

Do you want to move a site from WordPress multisite to a single install?

If you run a WordPress multisite network, then sometimes you may need to move one of the websites to its own separate WordPress install.

In this article, we’ll show you how to easily move a site from WordPress multisite to its own single install while preserving SEO rankings and all your content.

Splitting a site from WordPress multisite to single install

Step 1: Getting Started

To move a website from a WordPress multisite network, you’ll need a domain name.

If you already have a domain name where you want to install the single site, then you are good to go.

If you don’t have a separate domain name, then you’ll need to register a new domain name and add it to your hosting account. For more details, see our article on how to register a domain name.

Alternately, you can buy a separate hosting account and domain name for your fresh WordPress install.

We recommend using Bluehost. They are offering a free domain name with a generous discount on hosting. Basically, you can get started for $2.75 per month.

After getting your domain name and hosting, the next step is to install WordPress. See our step by step WordPress installation tutorial if you need help.

Important: Since you are going to do some serious changes to your WordPress multisite, it is necessary to create a complete WordPress backup before you do anything else.

Now that everything is set up, let’s move a site from WordPress multisite network to its own single install.

Step 2: Exporting a Single Site in WordPress Multisite Network

The built-in WordPress import/export functionality works the same way in multisite as it does on a single site install. We will be using the default tools to export the data from a site on WordPress multisite network.

First, you need to login to the dashboard of the single site you want to move, and then click on Tools » Export. Next, you want to make sure that all content is checked and click on the Download Export File button.

Exporting a single site from a WordPress multisite network

WordPress will now create an XML file containing all your data and send it to your browser for download. Save the file on your computer because you will need it in later steps.

Step 3: Importing Child Site to New Domain

Login to the WordPress admin area on the new location where you want to move your child site and then go to Tools » Import. On the import screen, WordPress will show you a number of import options.

Import WordPress

You need to click on the ‘Install Now’ link below ‘WordPress’. Wait for the importer to be installed and then click on the ‘Run Importer’ link.

Run WordPress Importer

On the next screen, you will be asked to upload the WordPress export file you downloaded earlier from WordPress multisite.

Upload the import file

Click on the Choose file button to select the file from your computer and then click on the ‘Upload file and import’ button.

On the next screen, WordPress will ask if you would like to import users as well. If you do nothing, then WordPress will import all users. This is recommended if you do not want to change authors.

You will also see Import Attachments option, and you want to make sure it is checked so that WordPress can download images from your posts and pages (Don’t worry if it misses out some or most of your images. You can import them separately afterwards).

Review import settings

Click on the ‘Submit’ button to continue.

WordPress will now start importing your content. This will take a few minutes depending on how much content you have. Once it is done, you will see an ‘All done, Have fun’ notification.

Import finished

That’s all. You have successfully imported data from a multisite network child site to an individual WordPress install. There are still a few things left to do.

Step 4: Setting up Redirection

If you were using custom domains for each site in your WordPress multisite network, then you don’t have to setup any redirection.

However, if you were using subdomains or directory structure in your WordPress multisite, then you need to setup redirection so that users coming to your old URLs are redirected to your new site.

There are two ways to do this. You can set up a redirect using a WordPress plugin (recommended) or you can add some code to your WordPress .htaccess file.

We’ll show you both methods, you can choose one that best suits you.

Note: Make sure that your old site on the multisite network and the site on the new domain both are using the same permalink structure.

Method 1. Setting up Redirects using Redirection Plugin

First, you need to install the Redirection plugin on your WordPress Multisite.

You can Network Activate a plugin or you can login as Super Admin on your child site and activate the Redirection plugin for that particular site alone.

After that, you need visit the admin dashboard of the child site for which you want to set up the redirect.

Redirecting from Subdomain to New Domain

Redirection plugin makes it super easy to point a domain name to a different domain name.

Simply go to Tools » Redirection page and switch to the ‘Site’ tab.

Point to new domain name

Simply enter your new domain name and then click on the ‘Update’ button to save your settings.

The plugin will start redirecting all your site users to your new domain name with correct permalink structure.

The advantage of this method is that you can still login to the admin area of your subdomain

Redirecting from Directory to New Domain

If your multisite uses a directory based URL structure, then Redirection plugin makes it easy to redirect it properly to your new domain.

Simply go to Tools » Redirection page on your sub-site, and then click on the Add New button at the top.

Adding new redirection rule

This will take you to Redirect set up form. Here is how you need to fill in that form:

Source URL: ^childsite/(.*)$
Target URL: https://example.com/$1

Don’t forget to change ‘URL Options / Regex’ to Regex and click on the Add Redirect button to save your settings.

Directory to root redirection

You can now visit your sub-site to see the redirects in action.

Method 2. Setting up Redirects Using .htaccess file

For this method, you need to add redirect rules to your the .htaccess file in your WordPress hosting account for your multisite network.

Subdomain to New Domain Redirect

For subdomain installs, you need to use this code in the .htaccess file of your WordPress multisite.

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^subdomain.example.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.example.net/$1 [L,R=301]

This code redirects visitors coming to any page on subdomain.example.com to http://www.example.net. The $1 sign at the end of the destination URL ensures that your users land on the same page they requested.

Redirecting From Directory to New Domain

For directory-based multisite installs, you will need to paste the following code in the .htaccess file of your WordPress multisite.

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^childsite/(.*)$ http://example.net/$1 [R=301,L]

This code simply redirects any users coming on http://www.example.com/childsite/ to http://example.net. The $1 makes sure that your users land on exactly the same page or post they requested.

Don’t forget to replace childsite and example.net with the name of your sub-site and its new location.

Step 5: Troubleshooting the Migration

Moving a site is not a routine task, so it is likely that you will come across some issues. But don’t worry, there is solution for every issue that you may come across.

If your WordPress export file is too large, then you can split large XML file into smaller pieces.

If your images didn’t import correctly, then you can try importing them as external images.

See other common WordPress errors and how to fix them.

We hope this article helped you move a site from WordPress multisite to a single install. You may also want to review our WordPress SEO checklist for your new install or try these essential WordPress plugins on your fresh site.

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Reader Interactions

16 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hi, just the blog post I needed.

    Can I now delete the subdomain where I made the redirection from?

    Like delete the files and stuff?

    Thank you!

  2. Works great! Just make sure to add all the plugins first then do the importing.

    It worked for most of the things.. just had to re-configure few menu points and theme customization.

  3. Hi there,

    I have a problem with deleting a website in multisite installation (mainsite.com and oldsite.com). I deleted the second site (oldsite.com) through the wordpress multisite options and I uploaded a newsite in a deferent folder. my is issue is when I type newsite.com/wp-admin it sends me to mainsite.com/wp-admin

    how to fix it?

  4. Great post!
    In exporting/importing,however, you may want to do via sql data base, and the plugins should be put one at a time. Overall, it’s quite simple following your instructions.
    Thanks!

  5. Thanks for this tutorial. The underlying (between the lines header) message should read. “Avoid Multisite Like the Plague”

  6. This does seem to answer the question in its simplest form, BUT what about the database, themes, plugins, etc. Your example seems to be continuing to rely somewhat on the muti-site install and just redirecting to a different place. How would I COMPLETELY remove all instances of multi-site and create a stand alone install??

    • This tutorial is intended to be used when a user wants to move a single site out of their multi-site network. It seems that you want to change your multi-site into a standalone site. This is out of the scope of this tutorial, we will try to cover that in a future tutorial soon.

      Admin

  7. We are not sure what you are trying to do. We are assuming that you want to install a plugin on your main site and want to use its plugins on the subdomain site. We don’t think it is possible.

  8. hello wpbeginner staff, I want to ask you is there any way to control a subdomain with same wordpress installation. for example I created subdomain support.mysite.com, and I want to show contact form(using contact form 7 plugin) there,but there is no option in wordpress to do so. I just don’t want to setup multisite because my hosting dont support it and I am wp beginner and afraid to change internal scripts for just single subdomain. Thank you for your help

  9. I have multisite installed and in the dashboard I cannot see the “plugin” panel. The only way for me to see and use this panel is to go into Network Admin and network activate plugins. I tried moving to a single site (i don’t want the other one), but I cannot see the plugin panel in the dashboard anymore, although plugins are working!! any ideas?

    • Antonio, if you can’t see the plugins area when logged into your child site, but you can see it within the Network Admin interface, this could be because you have done something to disable them. I know there’s a way to do this in the wp-config.php file. If you know that wasn’t the case, then are you perhaps logging in as a different user with lower permissions, like Admin or Editor?

    • Antonio,
      Try UglyRobt’s “Multisite Plugin Manager” plugin.
      It will let you expose or hide plugins for different sites on your network.
      With this setup, you don’t have to network enable plugins to see them on subsites. You can pick which sites get which plugin.

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