Moving A Single Drupal Install from default Directory to Multi-Site Drupal Installation

Recently I decided to modify my configuration of Drupal 6. Previously, I had just one site, and I had innocently left everything in the default/ directory. This install in retrospect was easy but not an example of good planning. I later had to do some minor changes when I decided to migrate to multi-site.

When it later became clear that I wanted to host multiple sites, I had to move my 'files' directory from inside of /sites/default to /sites/ That was easy enough. I moved the settings.php file, cleaned the cache (I have devel module installed), fixed my hard-coded logo URL in my custom theme (oops) and it was running without a hitch.

except... I then realized that my modified installation hadn't properly transferred knowledge about the exact location of the images. Most images were not displaying - not Random Image block, not user thumbnails, etc.

So then I found some tips on Drupal: changing "files" directory configuration setting. No problem. I didn't even put the site in maintenance mode. I just backed up the db, fired off this sql: update files set filepath = replace (filepath, "sites/default/files", "sites/") ; and most images were back.

Except.. User thumbnails not showing up. So I fired up firebug for drupal (I had this module installed), and examined the queries for the user page ... eventually I realized 'duh' and just went to the database and did 'describe users' which made it clear that there was a 'pictures' field equivalent to the 'filepath' field... executed this sql update users set picture = replace (picture, "sites/default/files", "sites/") ; And it seems that everything is now working nicely. Of course the htaccess and robots.txt files are shared, which I might have to consider seriously in the future, but for now I think it's ok.

** NB - Update - January 1, 2010.  I just received the following news about a drupal module that can help you automate this migration:

I just wanted to let you know that based on your post and experiences I've had of migrating sites in a mult-site setup I've created a module to make it much easier.  I also wanted to add it to your post for other users who happen to find your blog post as I did when I was looking for an easier way to migrate.

So in some ways this module was created thanks to you and your blog post!

-Andrew Riley


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I've decided to change my

I've decided to change my local install to multisite for the same reason, my configuration is this:
- wamp 2.0 with windows xp,
- my site's image and css are under /sites/files

so this is what I did:
1) changed the Administer > Site configuration > File system to /sites/ppe/files (previously it was pointing to /sites/default/files)
2) put D6 offline
3) updated the tables as instructed above (adjusting the file path of course, but oddly my files table is empty, showing 0 records, could it be? I assume I'm supposed to update the table in ppe, which is the table I created for my site, right? Sorry for this dumb question, I'm new to this). Even if I did not update the table, I should be able to see my site, right? I just won't be able to see the links to my images.
3) moved dir from /sites/default ==> /sites/newdomain (including settings.php then removed default dir as recommended)
4) brought D6 back online
5) went to localhost
and got the install page instead of my homepage.

Am I missing something here? Seems D6 did not recognize the new path in File system. Is there any other place that I have to change?

ps: D6 is still in the same location (/www/), I did not move it.

Thanks in advance,

try this apache option

Hi Michael,
I'll just take a wild guess - if you are running on your local machine, maybe you are specifying your URL something like: http://localhost:3004 to specify one domain, http://localhost:3005 for the other domain, etc...  But apache might be telling drupal literally that the site is http://localhost:3004 - when you want it to say - do you follow?  So drupal looks in /sites/localhost:3004/* for the files, instead of /sites/* - you need to get apache to change the URL to before passing it to drupal.  Try adding something like this to your .htaccess file:

Listen 3004
Listen 3005
Listen 3006

ServerAdmin temp [at] temp [dot] com
DocumentRoot "c:/path/to/drupal/root"

ServerAdmin temp [at] temp [dot] com
DocumentRoot "c:/path/to/drupal/root"

ServerAdmin temp [at] temp [dot] com
DocumentRoot "c:/path/to/drupal/root"

In one case I also had to specify the following directive inside the VirtualHost section for a particular site (I think that site was always going to the install screen, but I can't remember for sure) - you might also try it:
usecanonicalname on

Can you tell me how to execute an SQL?

Hi Peter, Trying to do this exact same thing, but not sure how to "execute an SQL". Can you explain in detail for a relative laymen like me how to accomplish this. Thanks.

Never Mind

I figured it out. Thank you so much for this. Really helped me out.

Image Path Changes and SEO on a Multi-Site Install

How does moving a site from a single install to a multi-site install effect the SEO value of a page? I'm actually concerned about two issues. Some of our images come up first or near to the top in Google when doing an image search. The other is the multiple use of a the domain name in the path, i.e. Is there a method of avoiding the repeat of the domain name in the image path when files are stored in the site/domain directory?

htaccess or link

Hi, good things to consider.  You can probably address those issues with your htaccess file if you prefer to do it that way (using a rewrite rule).  Or you might try a hack with a link from your sites/default/files to your sites/ (make sure htaccess allows apache to follow links).  Try either one out on your dev site first and also make sure that when you add new images, you're satisfied with how they are handled as well, before you take the jump on your production site.

Thanks so much for posting

Thanks so much for posting this! It really helped me out. I'm FINALLY on a multi-site installation that works!