Performing backups and migrations with basic WordPress sites are pretty straightforward nowadays. There are thousands of step-by-step tutorials on the web and plugins which automate the entire process, making it quick and painless. However, when it comes to a WordPress multisite setup, tasks such as backups and migrations are a little more complex.

This is primarily due to the fact that multisite setups share the same WordPress database and installation. Therefore, unless you’re migrating or backing up the entire multisite, you have to segment the job down to the subsite level. Or worse, maybe you’re wanting to turn a subsite back into a normal WordPress install.

Today we’ll share with you a few WordPress multisite plugins we recommend for Kinsta clients when trying to accomplish the following tasks:

  1. Backup Multisite Subsites
  2. Migrate a Multisite Subsite to Standard Install (or Vice Versa)
Check out these recommended WordPress multisite plugins for backing up subsites as well as migrating subsites to a standard install and vice versa. 🏋️ Click to Tweet

Backup Multisite Subsites

Our automated backups at Kinsta have you covered in terms of always having a copy of the data for your entire multisite. However, there are times where you might need to backup only the subsite itself.

For this, we recommend using ManageWP. They are an approved backup plugin for our environment as they perform incremental backups and work great with multisite setups and subsites.

ManageWP WordPress backup plugin

ManageWP WordPress backup plugin

As per ManageWP’s documentation, here are a few things to be aware of:

  • When a backup is performed on a sub-site, the whole multisite network is backed up. However, you are only charged for that one subsite.
  • You don’t have to back up your parent website, in order to have a successful sub-site backup.
  • If you decide to upload your backup to an external destination, you will be uploading the whole multisite network.
  • Has three restore options, including the ability to restore only the selected subsite. Plugins and themes will not be restored as these are at the multisite network level.

Migrate a Multisite Subsite to Standard Install (or Vice Versa)

There might be times when you need to migrate a subsite to a standard WordPress install or a standard WordPress install into a subsite. Here are three recommended options:

Option 1 – Migrate DB Pro + Multisite Tools Addon

The first option we recommend is the Migrate DB Pro plugin from Delicious Brains. This has more functionality and advanced features than most plugins on the market in terms of different ways you can migrate your WordPress data.

WP Migrate DB Pro plugin

WP Migrate DB Pro plugin

You will also need their Multisite Tools Addon. The Multisite Tools addon extends WP Migrate DB Pro with WordPress multisite specific functionality. With it you can do the following:

  • Push a subsite (including media) to a single site install.
  • Pull a single site install (including media) into a subsite.
  • Push a single site install (database and media) into a multisite install as a subsite
  • Pull a single site install (database and media) into a multisite install as a subsite
    Export a subsite’s data as a SQL file ready for importing into a single site install

Check out their documentation for more details.

Option 2 – Duplicator Pro

Another option you have is the WordPress Duplicator Pro plugin from SnapCreek. Duplicator Pro supports multisite network backup & migrations. You can even install a subsite as a standalone site.

WordPress Duplicator Pro plugin

WordPress Duplicator Pro plugin

You can move a subsite to a standard WordPress install with just a few simple steps:

  1. Create a package on your source machine, just as you would on standard single site.
  2. Copy the installer/archive to the new location and create your database and user
  3. Browse to the installer
  4. You will see a dropdown containing all the subsites in the package. Choose one and continue with the install.
  5. The subsite chosen in step 4 will be installed as a new standalone.

Option 3 – NS Cloner

The last option you have is the NS Cloner plugin from Never Settle. Its purpose is to effortlessly copy or migrate WordPress sites, including all database content and media files, and works for both WordPress multisite and non-multisite (including back and forth between the two). It has both a free and pro version, but unlike the other two plugins above, NS Cloner has full multisite support in the free version.

NS Cloner multisite WordPress plugin

NS Cloner multisite WordPress plugin

A few other features of NS Cloner include:

  • NS Cloner was built from the ground up specifically for multisite (not just added on), so it’s especially suited and refined as a multisite tool. It can easily copy sites/blogs within a multisite network, an important feature that you might need.
  • It’s a stable, established and actively developed plugin – over 6 years old.

Other Solutions

For those of you familiar with WP-CLI, you could also use the MU-Migration plugin from the team at 10up. Note: This doesn’t support multisite versions 3.5 and below due to the old blogs.dir directory structure.

If you’re wondering why some of the other popular migration plugins such as All-in-One WP Migration, BackupBuddy, or UpdraftPlus are not mentioned in our list, this is because we have seen them cause performance issues for our clients. See our full list of banned plugins at Kinsta.

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