How to Migrate a WordPress Multisite Subsite to a Single Site

Today we are going to take a potentially difficult scenario – migrating a WordPress multisite subsite to a single site – and make it a little simpler. We will look at what multisite is, the benefits of using it, and two ways to split a multisite network into single sites so that you can give your growing sites room to grow and garner more success.

WordPress Multisite is an efficient way of connecting multiple websites and managing them from one central location. In fact, integrating several websites into one WordPress install offers website owners many benefits.

But what would you do if a single website outgrew your multisite network?

Today we are going to take a potentially difficult scenario – migrating a WordPress multisite subsite to a single site – and make it a little simpler. We will look at what multisite is, the benefits of using it, and two ways to split a multisite network into singe sites so that you can give your growing sites room to grow and garner more success.

What is WordPress Multisite?

A multisite network is as a group of websites that all share the same WordPress installation. Each website then separates into either subdomains or subdirectories and is easily accessed using your chosen multisite network structure or by domain mapping individual URLs with a few additional steps.

With a multisite network, you access all of your interconnected websites from one easy drop-down menu in the WordPress admin area, thus making the management of your websites easier. In addition, you can share all of your installed plugins and themes across the many websites you have in the multisite network. Furthermore, you can specify which ones to utilize on which websites.

In the end, setting up a multisite network gives you more control, saves you time, and gives you instant access to all of your websites by logging in one single time.

Migrate a WordPress Multisite to a Single Site Using WordPress Functions

There may be times when you want to migrate a multisite subsite to a single site install. These steps will outline how to do just that using the default WordPress functions, all of which are included in every WordPress install.

Step 1: Make a Backup

Before beginning the process of the exporting a single website from your multisite network, you must back everything up. Since exporting a website can be a difficult and often time-consuming process, you want to protect your site’s data from power failures, web-host server crashes, and even hack attacks.

So, make a thorough backup of your entire multisite installation and make sure to save it in an offsite area you can access should anything go wrong during the migration.

Step 2: Export the Single Site from the Multisite Network

The great thing about WordPress is that it has a built-in import/export functionality that can be used on both single site installs and multisite ones.

To utilize this feature, first, log in to the WordPress dashboard of the single site you would like to migrate away from your multisite network. Next, navigate to Tools > Export.

Migrate Multisite to Single Site - Export All Content

Make sure that you select All Content and then click on the Download Export File button. After doing this, WordPress will create an XML file that has all of your data included and send it to your browser for download.  Save this file to your computer for later use.

Step 3: Install WordPress

The next step after exporting all of your website’s data is to create a separate install of WordPress for your newly single website. Check here for a secure way to do just that.

Step 4: Import Site to New Domain

After successfully installing a fresh WordPress install for your website, log in to the WordPress admin section of that new install. Here you will import your exported website data (you know, the file you saved to your computer for later use). To do this, navigate to Tools > Import and select the WordPress option.

Migrate Multisite to Single Site - Import WordPress

Additionally, WordPress will ask you to configure the following:

  • Import Users. Unless you want to change authors on your newly single website, it is recommended you do nothing and allow WordPress to import all existing users.
  • Import Attachments. Check this so that WordPress can import all images from the posts and pages of your website as they were in your multisite network.

WordPress will then import all of your single website’s content into the new single site install. Keep in mind this may take several minutes depending on the size of your website. When everything has successfully imported, you will see an “All done, Have fun” notification.

And that’s it. You have now migrated a multisite subsite to a new single website using the default WordPress features.

But, there is another way…

Migrate a WordPress Multisite to a Single Site Using WP Migrate DB Pro

WP Migrate DB Pro is a premium WordPress plugin that offers website owners a whole host of features:

  • Push and pull databases for improved workflow
  • Detect serialized data and run a special find and replace to ensure there is no corrupted data
  • Backup your database before replacement with one-click
  • Start, pause, and resume your site migrations for ultimate control
  • Work in temporary tables so your live site is never affected
  • Track migration process with visual progress bar
  • Enjoy multiple add-ons such as the Multisite Tools Addon for exporting a multisite subsite to a single site

As you can see, WP Migrate DB Pro makes migrating websites very easy. And, it provides security and protection of your website data so that nothing becomes corrupt or lost.

WP Migrate DB Pro

Migrate a WordPress multisite to a single site using WP Migrate DB Pro.

Get the Plugin

In addition, the Multisite Tools Addon, which is what we will be discussing today, lets you push migrations from a multisite install to a single install of WordPress. Let’s see how that works.

Step 1: Export Website Files

After purchasing, installing, and activating the WP Migrate DB Pro plugin, you will be ready to begin extracting your subsite and pushing it to an already installed single site. Keep in mind that the Multisite Tools Addon comes included with the Developer, Studio, and Agency plans.

Navigate to Migrate DB Pro in your WordPress dashboard. You will then see a screen with several migration options. Click on Export File and both checkboxes to save your files to your computer as well as compress the file with gzip.

Migrate Multisite to Single Site - WP Migrate DB Pro, Export File

Since the creators of WP Migrate DB Pro are always improving the functionality of their plugin, you will notice a checkbox labeled Export a subsite as a single site install. This is a new feature that makes migrating a subsite that much more intuitive.

Migrate Multisite to Single Site - WP Migrate DB Pro, Export File, New Function

From the dropdown menu, choose which multisite subsite you wish to migrate to a single site. Next, change the New Table Name Prefix to match that of the table name your single site install will use.

For instance, you might rename it subsite_. You will then change the URL in the next textbox to reflect the New Table Name Prefix. In our example, this would be //subsite.dev. In addition, rename the path.

Migrate Multisite to Single Site - WP Migrate DB Pro, Export File, New Table Name Prefix

The Tables box will only show you the tables that belong to your selected multisite subsite, as well as the usermeta and users tables that all subsites use. You can export all of them or choose those unique to the multisite subsite you are exporting.

Migrate Multisite to Single Site - WP Migrate DB Pro, Export File, Tables

You also have the option to include your multisite subsite’s media in your migration under the configuration labeled Media Files.

When these steps are complete, you can save the migration by giving it a unique title. Then, click on Migrate and Save Profile. WP Migrate DB Pro will immediately begin exporting your multisite subsite data as a newly created SQL file.

Step 2: Import the SQL file

The developers of WP Migrate DB Pro then suggest you import the newly created SQL file using your preferred MySQL administration tools. These may include phpMyAdmin, Sequel Pro, or the CLI Addon that comes with WP Migrate DB Pro Developer, Studio, and Agency plans.

For a closer look at how to do this, check out WP Migrate DB Pro’s quick migration video:

After importing the SQL file to your fresh WordPress install, simply refresh the site and voila. Your multisite subsite should appear with all of its content and media.

Final Thoughts

Migrating multisite subsites to single site installs can be a complicated process, especially for those that are relatively new to multisite functionality. However, the wonderful thing about WordPress is that there are typically multiple avenues to choose from when it comes to accomplishing any task, site migrations included.

If you are one that prefers to work within the WordPress admin itself and utilize the default tools WordPress kindly provides all website owners, migrating a subsite is doable. There are however increased risks of corruption, mistakes, and time-consuming steps when choosing to go the default way. Unfortunately, this is true with many built-in WordPress features. Despite its best intentions, using WordPress to perform complicated tasks is not always the best option.

If however, you want things to be extremely simple, more secure, and less involved, I recommend trying WP Migrate DB Pro. Not only does this plugin allow you to push and pull sites between multisite networks with a few clicks, but it also provides you with tons of other useful features that multisite website owners like yourself will be interested in.

Have you ever migrated a multisite subsite to a single site install? What method did you use? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Lindsay Liedke
Lindsay Liedke
Lindsay is a freelance writer who loves all things WordPress. When she is not writing she can be found spending family time with her son and two silly nephews.

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5 Responses

  1. We’re working on finding a solution to replicate all our subsites from production multisite environment to staging multisite environment. Is tool WP Migrate DB Pro works between two multisite environments to migrate all the sites from prod multisite to stage multisite?

  2. Great article!!

    I had installed WordPress as a multisite without knowing the implications. It was all good but is now giving me issues with some plugins.
    Most of them don’t have the settings option. Thus aren’t working as expected.
    I have been developing websites with WordPress and frankly speaking, I don’t think that multisite is a good feature!!!

  3. the Export/Import does nothing but creating incredible mess when the source is a subsite on localhost and the target is a single site on a web server

    most of instructions around the web do not explain how to correctly handle the most important assest: the MEDIA … no it’s not done automatically, or there are too many possibilities of errors that leave you out in the wild.

    also never explained: should themes and other plugins you use on the source installation be installed before importation, after, not at all

    sorry … all useless content

  4. This article only explains how to export and import the actual content of a website. That does not mean you are exportin and importing a whole website with themes, plugins and all. This is misleading information.

  5. I had a multisite install and realized I just needed the single install. The way I did it was create a staging site with a fresh new install of WP then use UpdraftPlus to clone the files over from MS to single install. Everything migrated over nicely. Once I confirmed everything was good to go, I switched out staging for live.

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