Amazing Disappearing Multi Site Phenomenon!!!

I had a bit of a surprise yesterday, I logged into one of my sponsor filled autoblogs only to find it wasn’t there! My server and WordPress had conspired to perform an amazing disappearing multi site act! Those guys, they make me laugh…with hysterical cries of despair!

The vanished site was one of my solo WordPress subdomain installations that I had recently integrated into a WordPress Multi Site installation using the methods outlined here. I tested the site after its integration and it worked fine. Seemingly, according to the domain’s server error log, it went off-line a few days later. So, when I went to visit it yesterday I was confronted with the magical, expressive and meaningful message:

Firefox can’t find the server at sub.domain.tld

“Annoyed” is not the word to describe the expressive list of words that shot out of my mouth like a torrent of bullets.

After calming down, I logged into the primary site of the network, domain.tld. I thought, I’ll log into the subdomain’s backend from the Super Admin panel of the primary site. I could see the subdomain site was still registered so, great, I thought. Then, when I hovered my mouse cursor over its title and clicked “Backend”, the magician in WordPress reared his head and said:

Your server may not be able to connect to sites running on it. Error message: Couldn’t resolve host sub.domain.tld

I doubt he expected the barrage of insults I through back at him!

So, after a cup of rooibos (I don’t imbibe caffeine) I’d calmed enough to fix the problem.

Please understand, I’m not usually distressed by a non-functional site – all problems can be fixed – but this particular site has a very particular purpose: it acts as an index for a free hosted white label site provided by one of my adult sponsors (I sell adult toys in my spare time); so, as you can appreciate, it is an important part of my online income (it’s also the one that pays enough for me to keep JournalXtra.com running).

I repaired the database, optimized it, gutted it a little to remove obsolete tables, I checked to ensure the subdomain site was still properly listed in the database, I posted a request for help in the wordpress.org forum. None of that fixed it.

I created a test site to ensure that the wildcard DNS for the domain was properly set-up. It was, the test sites worked.

An idea struck

I was about to create another site, download the database tables for the broken old site, edit the tables to make them look like the new site’s tables, delete the new site’s tables, import the edited old site’s tables into the complete database then use the Super Admin backend to delete the old site and rename the new site as the old site, when, like a wand had been waved, I was struck by an amazingly cheeky idea.

I knew the subdomain site had disappeared because either WordPress had forgotten the virtual DNS record it had created for it (hence the subdomain’s host could not be found) elsewise there might have been a server error created when I deleted the real (non-virtual) DNS record for the subdomain site after the site’s integration into a primary WordPress Multi Site installation.

I created a new real DNS record for the subdomain site using cPanel. Instead of creating a new directory for the subdomain, I registered the subdomain to the root directory of the primary domain. Bingo! Job done! I was as happy as Larry! The site reappeared within 10 minutes of the real DNS record’s creation.

Of all the WordPress subdomain sites I have integrated into a primary WordPress Multi Site network, this is the only one that has caused me any aggro.

In Summary

If one of your WordPress subdomain sites (installed with its own database and WordPress files) disappears after you have moved it into the fold of a WordPress Multi Site installation with shared database and shared WordPress files then you can get your site back by creating a real DNS record using your host provided control pane (cPanel>Subdomains) and selecting the network’s primary domain’s directory as the subdomain’s directory.

Worked for me and I hope it works for you if ever one of your WordPress Multi Site sites goes missing.

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