Well, I'm finally ready to put my five-site multi-site installation online. This community has been a great help in getting me to this point. So thank you all for that.
I'm a bit nervous about the gotcha's that await me in this next step -- discovering differences in operation between my local environment and the one online. I'm running XAMPP on my computer with Apache 2.4.10, PHP 5.6.3, and MySQL 5.6.21. Drupal core and all modules are up-to-date. In addition to each site's database, there is an extra db that is accessed by all sites for common data. For the online system, I plan to select a host company from the list on the Drupal.org, so I can expect them to have all the right stuff. I plan to get a shared server account.
In my current ASP sites (which these Drupal sites will replace), I've been able to develop the sites entirely on my local computer and then just upload the files to the online server and I don't think I've ever had a problem with any differences in operations. My scripts are set up to detect whether they are running locally or online and adjust certain things (such as inter-site URLs accordingly). I've attempted to develop things in Drupal to work that way too, but I'm not sure if there are differences I don't yet know about. I'm concerned about this because on the ASP sites I never had to instal any software. The server company instals whatever is necessary to run the site and I just uploaded files compatible with their software. But in Drupal, I've had to instal Drupal over again for each site, so I'm a bit unsure about how this will translate to the online environment.
So one question I have: Is it possible to simply FTP the entire Drupal folder plus the MySQL database to an online server and have a functioning set of sites, or do I need to go through the installation process on the online computer again for each site?
The doc page on Migrating a site says that it is for single site and that migrating multi-sites is covered elsewhere, but doesn't say where. Even for a single site, it lays out a 16-step process in which I don't think I'll understand most of the steps until I've done them. In any case, that page seems to say that the answer to my above question is very much NO, that I cannot do this by just copying files over.
Anything helpful to suggest on entering this process?