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Multi-site on Windows - using IIS

Last updated on
August 30, 2016 - 13:47


This guide assumes you have the following installed and running:

  • Microsoft's Internet Information Services web server 6 or 7
  • PhP 5.2 or higher with PDO dlls enabled.
  • The IIS FastCGI Module (IIS6 version here - in IIS7 it's an integrated module that needs to be enabled).
  • MySQL
  • If you want clean urls, you'll also need the URL Rewrite module (IIS7) or a third-party url-rewrite module set up at some point, though you can do this afterward.


  1. Install a site. This will be the parent site, providing the code-base for all the child sites.

    IIS7: be sure your parent site has a web.config file (see this for more info). Child sites will use the settings in the parent site's web.config file. To override these settings, put a web.config file with just the settings you want to override in the child site's folder (eg sites/site2.com/).

  2. Create child site folders. Decide how you want people to navigate to your sub-site. In the parent site's /sites/ folder, create sub-folders for each new site you wish to install.
  • Example 1: parentsite.com/subsite/ - in parent /sites/ folder, create /sites/parentsite.com.subsite
  • Example 2: subsite.parentsite.com - in parent /sites/ folder, create /sites/subsite.parentsite.com
  • Example 3: subsite.com - in parent /sites/ folder, create /sites/subsite.com
  • Copy the files & private subfolders. Go into the parent site's sites/default folder, and copy the /files and /private folders. Navigate to each new child site's folder (eg sites/parentsite.com/subsite/) and paste them.
  • Create child site settings.php file(s). Into each child site folder copy the parent's /sites/default/settings.php. Make each settings.php writable to IIS_WPG (IIS6) or IIS_IUSRS(IIS7).
  • Create IIS Site Mapping or Virtual Directory, depending on how you set up your site structure.
  • IIS7 - Start the IIS Manager.

    • Example 1: parentsite.com/subsite/ - Right-click on parentsite.com | Add virtual directory. Alias: [new site name, eg subsite]. Physical path: [parent site's physical path]. Click OK.
    • Example 2: subsite.parentsite.com - Right-click on Sites | Add web site. Site name: [new site name, eg site2]. Click to select the application pool, and select the parent site. Physical path: enter the parent site's physical path. Host name: [new site url, eg site2.localhost]. Click OK.
    • Example 3: subsite.com - add a web site as example 2, calling the host name subsite.com.
  • Set up the database(s).

    Multiple databases - If you want each site to have it's own database, create them now.

    For each child site, change settings.php to include each site's database name, username, and password:

    $databases['default']['default'] = array(
      'driver' => 'mysql',
      'database' => 'databasename',
      'username' => 'username',
      'password' => 'password',
      'host' => 'localhost',

    Single database - See this tutorial.

  • Run the setup script for each site, eg http://site2.localhost/install.php.