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Move a Subsite From a WordPress Multisite to a New Single Installation
Move a Subsite From a WordPress Multisite to a New Single Installation

Learn how to move a subsite from a WordPress multisite to a new single installation.

Emmad avatar
Written by Emmad
Updated over a week ago

Many WordPress site administrators often need to extract a single subsite from a WordPress Multisite setup. This is often the case when a single subsite becomes too big for the network and needs to be moved to its own independent installation.

The process of extracting a subsite from a multisite setup and then moving it to a new host is a three-step process that involves extracting the subsite, setting up a fresh WordPress installation, and then moving the subsite to its new home.


Before moving a subsite to a single installation, it is highly recommended to take a backup of the application’s data. Follow this KB for backing up the server and the application.

Move a Subsite From a WordPress Multisite to a New Single Installation

Step 1: Log in to the WordPress Subsite

Visit your WordPress subsite and use your admin credential to log into the Admin Panel.

Step 2: Export WordPress Subsite Data

For the purpose of exporting the subsite data, we will use the native export functionality available in the latest WordPress version.

Since you are logged into the subsite you wish to move to another hosting, go to the left side menu and select Tools > Export.

From the Export screen, select the ‘All Content’ radio button. This will create an XML file that will contain all the subsite data required to move it to the new installation. Once done, click the ‘Download Export File‘ button, and the XML file will be downloaded to the local system.

Step 3: Export Website Theme and Plugins

Once the XML file has been downloaded, the next step is to copy the theme and the plugins used on the site. Use an FTP client (FileZilla is a popular choice) to log into the subsite. If you need help, check out this KB on connecting to your application through SFTP.

Go to the wp-content folder, and create a copy of the folder at the local system.

At this point, you are ready to move the subsite to its new single installation.

Step 4: Install a New WordPress Application

Now you need to install a new WordPress application on your server that will serve as the new home for the subsite. This application could be located on the same server or another Cloudways managed server. If you need help in launching the new WordPress application, refer to this KB.

Step 5: Prepare the installation for the Subsite data

Before importing data into the new installation, it is essential to prepare the website. For this, log in to the new WordPress website and carry out the following actions:

  • Delete the “Hello World!” post, “Sample Page,” and the sample comment

  • Match the permalink structure of the new WordPress website with that of the multisite. For this, go to Settings > Permalinks.

Step 6: Import WordPress Subsite Data

Now your website is ready to receive the subsite data. For this, go to Tools > Import and select WordPress (located near the bottom) from the list.

You will be prompted to install the WordPress Importer plugin. Once this plugin has been installed and activated, you can select the file to import. In this step, choose the XML file downloaded in Step 2.

Click the “Upload file and Import” button. You will be asked to assign authors to the posts and pages that would be imported during the process. For this, you have three options:

  • Import the user accounts associated with the posts and pages

  • Create a new user during the Import process (the user will be assigned a randomly-generated password) and assign the posts to it

  • Assign all the posts and pages to a user on the current side

Note that you should also check the checkbox for downloading and importing the attachments from the multisite setup. This will ensure that all the media files used in the posts and pages will be imported into the new site.

Step 7: Install Theme and Plugins

At this point, you might wish to restore the theme and the plugins used on the multisite setup. This will ensure consistency in the UI and UX of the new website.

In order to restore the theme and the plugins, you need to upload the relevant content of the folder you downloaded in Step 3 to the appropriate folders in the wp-content folder. To upload the theme, connect to the wp-content folder using SFTP and upload the theme folder to the new wp-content/themes/ folder. Similarly, upload the plugin folders to the new wp-content/plugins/ < plugin folder>.

Note that you will need to activate (and configure some settings, if required) both the theme and the plugins on the new WordPress website.

Step 8: Verify That Everything is Working Correctly

Finally, go to the frontend of the new WordPress website and check out the posts and pages to see if all the links and media files are properly rendered, and there are no broken links.

That’s it! We hope this article was helpful. If you need any help, then feel free to search your query on Cloudways Support Center or contact us via chat (Need a Hand > Send us a Message). Alternatively, you can also create a support ticket.

Cloudways is offering WordPress multisite hosting to easily host multiple sites and manage these from a single dashboard.

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