WordPress vs. WordPress MU: A Comparison

July 2010 Update: WordPress MU has been incorporated into WordPress 3.0 and later, so some of these differences are no longer relevant.

Although WordPress and WordPress MU share somewhere around 95% of the same code, there are many more differences between the two than just multi-blog support. Here’s a thorough analysis:


WordPress WordPress MU

Supports one blog with multiple bloggers.

Supports multiple blogs and multiple bloggers. Bloggers can write for multiple blogs.

Famous for its “5 minute install.”

Setup is more involved.

No advanced hosting requirements.

Your host needs to support wildcard DNS to use the subdomains feature.

Instant installation (through Fantastico, etc.) supported by many webhosts.

FTP time!

Each user is assigned a role level (subscriber, contributor, author, editor, administrator).

In addition to the standard WordPress roles, you can also specify “site admins” who can add/edit/delete all blogs and users.

WordPress receives updates first.

MU users must wait for WordPress updates to be applied to WordPress MU.

Administrators can edit themes, plugins, and code files from within WordPress.

The Theme Editor, Plugin Editor, and Manage Files sections are all disabled for security reasons.

Plugins can be enabled/disabled by the blog administrator.

The site admin can opt to have plugins disabled altogether (the default setting), or allow blog administrators to enable/disable plugins that have been uploaded.

Plugins can also be uploaded to a special “mu-plugins” folder, where they will be executed automatically on all blogs. (Some plugins won’t function property when run this way, however.)

If you have multiple blogs running standard WordPress, you’d need to upload plugin updates to each one.

Plugins for all WordPress MU blogs are stored in one place. Update once, and it takes effect on all the site’s blogs.

If you have multiple blogs running standard WordPress, you’d need to login to each one separately to access the administration.

You can switch between blog admins using a simple drop-down menu.

Allows you to use most HTML in your posts, but strips out PHP.

In addition to removing PHP, WordPress MU is more strict in regards to what post HTML it accepts. For example, it will strip out class/ID attributes, inline styles, <span> tags, etc.

WordPress allows posting via email.

WordPress MU lacks this feature.

WordPress lets you customize its list of update services.

WordPress MU doesn’t let you specify update services.

Are there any other differences between WordPress and MU that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

42 Comments

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  2. Nope, I think you got ‘em all. :)

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  6. Hi! One question, how do you add the nofollow tag to the “Rear more” links in the homepage???

  7. @Andrea_R: Thanks for the comment, and the link!

    @il maistro: I did it using my WordPress Tweaks plugin. The plugin supports 12 tweaks, one of which is the nofollow’d “Read more” links one.

  8. Gilles

    Hi,
    what about multilanguage support ?

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  15. is there a way to demo Mu before I install?

  16. @Gilles: Each blogger on WPMU can select a language for their blog. It’s up to the administrator to provide the necessary language files though.

    @Joan: To test drive MU, check this site out: testdrivewpmu.com

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  21. Max Ruegnitz

    Being fully aware of the security implications, how do you enable the Theme Editor, Plugin Editor, and Manage Files sections?

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  25. @Max: The only way to re-enable those sections would be to alter the WordPress MU source code. There’s no way to re-enable them from within the administration interface.

    However, you may want to check out the Custom CSS plugin, which allows users to create custom stylesheets.

  26. Thanks for the information ….. at least now i know which one to choose in setting my intranet wordpress cms project.

  27. Hi!

    Just wondering..
    In WPMU, you stated:
    “In addition to removing PHP, WordPress MU is more strict in regards to what post HTML it accepts. For example, it will strip out class/ID attributes, inline styles, tags, etc.”

    I use exec-PHP plugin to execute php in posts. Is there any plugin like that block’s WP from striping class/ID’s?

    Because when creating a ‘Page’ with something more than just text, like a div with floated span inside or just inline menu, something like that, will be impossible o.O

    Regards,

  28. Great post. It clearly explained the differences between WP and WP-MU.

  29. Finally a well written comparison of the 2 types of WordPress, which I’ve been struggling with for months. My main site is moving back to “single” while I’ll keep syndicated sites on MU, one per content category.

  30. At last I got a complete information about wordpress and wordpressmu. Thanks for share this nice article.

  31. If WPMU natively disallows PHP, will it allow PHP code encased in the Raw HTML Compatibility plugin?

  32. Great post.
    Please help me, can i use wp standart themes for wp mu, it’s posible?
    Does wp standart themes support for wp mu?
    thks

  33. We sure don’t need to worry about most of the differences any more do we? :D WordPress 3.0 has made my life a lot easier as a developer.

  34. So what are the benefits of using MU other than multiple blogs?
    Love to know what I’m missing.

  35. Each of them shares unique function. Though, WordPress alone has wider and specific functionality. Comparison of the two is much define. Have you posted any sample of wordpress MU installation? Can I have the link? Thank you in advance.

  36. @John Lamansky Thanks for the info – makes sense now – thanks!

  37. John – Thank you for the great info. Awesome.

  38. Thanks for the comparison. I was thinking of using WordPress MU for something, but realized it won’t work due to all of the instances of each plugin being set up the same way.

  39. Dina

    How about server-ressources? For example I have like 10-15 separate worpress instalations on my server. if i install wordpress MU and move all the blogs to it – will i save ressources? I mean espacially RAM-memory.

    one normal wordpress installation requires like 128MB RAM. how is this with the wordpress MU? does it depend by the number of blogs and how can one count with it?

    Thanks

  40. You left out the comparison about backing up. Single site backup is easy while WPMU is still one that I am trying to figure out a good solution because it doesn’t seem that there ARE any good solutions except exporting my tables directly.

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