UPDATE – April 9, 2012:  The Boles Blogs Network is now back on WordPress.com.  We are keeping this article published in case it might help others in the future.

If you’re running your own WordPress Multisite installation, you know having a proper and secure backup plan is a must in today’s wretched world where bad people love to tear down good things instead of building them up from scratch. Backing up your WordPress files and database on a regular basis are not tough tasks, but they can become cumbersome and gruesome if your schedule overcomes you and if you then allow your self-serving security needs to become lackadaisical.

Enter VaultPress! VaultPress is built by Automattic to cleanly and invisibly secure your WordPress installations and VaultPress now supports WordPress Multisite. The catch is that pricing for WordPress Multisite VaultPress protection is confusing. Today, I have the proper answers for you in detail.

I believe the general confusion about VaultPress pricing for Multisite is caused by this blog announcement on the VaultPress site dated November 14, 2011 where it particularly says:

Using VaultPress with your network’s main site will backup your network’s users table, plugins, and themes. For non-main sites, VaultPress will not backup users, plugins, or themes.

Here’s a screenshot of that announcement:

For those of us with Multisite installations, “tables” most importantly translates to “posts” and “comments” and that announcement says the all the tables in the main site’s database will be backed up under the main site’s VaultPress license and that means all the posts and comments and content from across the blog network are covered. Cool! The only things that will NOT be backed up are the USERS and PLUGINS and THEMES for the subdomain blogs off the main site. That’s fine with a Multisite setup like mine because I am the Admin for all my blogs and I use the same Plugins and Users and Themes for my entire network!

I’m ready to pay my $15.00USD a month to backup my main site, right?

Not so fast!

It seems there is some confusion in the WordPress community concerning that VaultPress announcement. Why would VaultPress be so generous in backing up all the content of the subdomains under a single, main site, blog license? Other argue there is a clear, and purposeful, semantic separation between “tables” and the subdomain’s tables and users and plugins.

I decided to write to VaultPress support and ask for a clarification on how main domains work and how the subdomains work. I specifically wanted to know if all posts and comments from all Multisite blogs would be backed up under a single, main site, VaultPress license. Here’s the official email response I received yesterday from Brian C.:

At this time, each site in the multisite install will need a subscription if you want them to be backed up.

You can backup the main site with one subscription, but only its files and data will be backed up. The other sites will be ignored.

You can’t get clearer than that — “only its files and data will be backed up” — and that means only posts and comments in the main blog will be backed up and the subdomain blogs’ posts and comments and such will not be backed up under the main site’s VaultPress subscription.

Rats! Foiled again!

I suppose that makes initial business sense for VaultPress to price their service in this manner. If you’re a commercial blogger using Multisite, or if you’re charging people fees for hosting their blogs on your Multisite install, then $15.00USD a month isn’t a horrible business deal, but what if you’re a small potatoes guy like me?

Sure, I run a “blogs network” under Multisite, but The Boles Blogs Network has 14 blogs and no income. We refuse all advertising. We write because we want to give back to the world, not because we’re looking to pull a buck from our readers or charge those who wish to join us so they can blog on a for-fee subdomain subscription off of our Multisite install.

If I were to go with VaultPress to backup all my current blogs, I’d have to pay $15.00USD a month for each of my 14 blogs. That rounds out to $210.00USD a month only for VaultPress. Yikes!

It costs me a lot of money to host 14 blogs, and while I’m not complaining, I do wish VaultPress would add a kinder new subscription level for Multisite installs: The Non-Profit Personal Blogger Network Subscription — good for hosting non-profit, no-fee-anywhere Multisite blogs up to, say, 15 blogs, under a single VaultPress Multisite installation and key. Pricing might be something like $15 for the main blog and then, say, $2.00USD per subdomain blog. A scheme like that for VaultPress would cost me $41.00USD a month to protect all my personal network blogs, but I’d spend that much just to gain the extra peace of mind.

9 Comments