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What’s a WordPress Staging Website and How Do You Set One Up?

Once you’re updating your web site, including new options, or rolling out a brand new design, you need to make the method as seamless and secure as potential. And whilst you can at all times restore a backup when you have one available, it’s higher to keep away from that within the first place. 

One of the simplest ways to do that is with a WordPress staging web site (additionally known as a staging surroundings), which you should utilize to check and deploy main adjustments. So if the change that you just make breaks something — whether or not that’s including a brand new plugin, enhancing code, or switching themes — it gained’t have an effect on your dwell web site. Because of this you continue to make gross sales and supply a wonderful expertise for potential prospects.

What’s a staging web site?

Staging websites are copies of your dwell web site hosted on a separate URL (also called a check or staging URL). They’re often the ultimate step within the growth course of earlier than deploying both a brand new web site or vital adjustments made to an current web site. On a staging web site, you’ll be able to check new plugins, options, and design adjustments all with out affecting your dwell web site.

Not solely will your dwell retailer not go down should you make a mistake, you can too take no matter time it is advisable check and experiment with out complicated web site guests.

Key parts of a staging web site

Whereas your staging surroundings must be as near a precise reproduction of your dwell web site as potential, there are a number of key variations: 

  • Your dwell web site could be hosted at “”, and your staging web site might want to use a special area title (e.g. 
  • Your staging web site shouldn’t be public-facing.
  • Relying on the way you arrange your staging web site, you might have to manually replicate sure features of your dwell surroundings like SSL certificates, PHP variations, and different server settings.

What sort of adjustments ought to I make with a staging web site?

In case you’re fixing a typo, updating a product worth, or making different minor adjustments to your web site, it’s not going to be price copying your dwell web site over to a staging surroundings, making the change, and re-deploying again to dwell once more. Simply make your minor adjustments in your dwell web site and transfer on together with your day. 

You must use a staging web site when making the next adjustments:

  • Manually updating plugins, themes, or WordPress core
  • Including new plugins
  • Enabling vital new performance with current plugins
  • Making main design and content material adjustments to current pages and posts
  • Redesigning your web site fully
  • Switching fee gateways or making different main performance adjustments

The place is a staging web site hosted?

Staging environments are often hosted by means of a internet hosting supplier — typically the identical one which hosts your dwell web site. You possibly can create a one-click staging web site by means of your host, construct one manually with a internet hosting supplier, or use localhost by yourself pc.

Listed below are some advantages and disadvantages to every kind of staging web site:

One-click staging

One-click staging is often provided on managed WordPress internet hosting plans.


  • It’s quick and simple to deploy out of your internet hosting firm’s admin panel.
  • It typically consists of one-click dwell deployment.
  • It mechanically generates a staging URL, so that you don’t should buy a special area for testing, or fiddle with subdomains and DNS.
  • It’s usually included in your internet hosting plan, so there are not any added prices. 
  • It mechanically updates root URLs within the staging web site’s database.
  • It’s simply accessible to collaborators.
  • Serps are mechanically discouraged from crawling content material. 
  • It makes use of a safe https:// connection.


  • Some hosts could use plugins for one-click staging deployment that battle together with your theme or different plugins in your web site.
  • You don’t have any management over what strategies are used to create the staging web site.

Guide staging on an online host

In case you don’t have internet hosting with one-click staging otherwise you don’t like the way in which your internet hosting supplier units up their staging websites, you’ll be able to nonetheless arrange your personal. 


  • You have got management over the way you copy your dwell web site to the staging surroundings.
  • You possibly can select your personal customized check URL.
  • You should use any internet hosting firm you need.
  • It’s simply accessible to collaborators.


  • It takes longer to arrange and re-deploy to your dwell web site.
  • You’ll have to pay extra internet hosting and area registration charges.
  • Your SSL certificates might not be mechanically enabled to your check area.
  • This may be extra liable to errors.
  • Your internet hosting supplier could not allocate sufficient assets to rapidly deploy a staging web site to a dwell web site. That is particularly frequent on shared internet hosting plans.
  • You’ll have to manually test “Discourage search engines like google from indexing this web site” in WordPress’ Settings Studying.
  • You’ll have to make your staging web site unavailable to the general public utilizing a upkeep mode or privateness plugin.

Staging with localhost

Localhost staging is usually a nice possibility should you’re used to creating domestically and don’t want to attach with a staff of individuals for testing. It does have fairly a number of drawbacks that you must be mindful, although.


  • You don’t should be linked to the web to work on or check sure components of your web site — you’ll be able to work on a flight, in your subway commute, or out tenting in the course of the desert.
  • Your web site could load extra rapidly than in your net host, making growth and testing sooner.
  • Your check web site is non-public and inaccessible to the general public by default.
  • There are not any extra area registration or internet hosting charges.


  • Preliminary localhost setup will be time-consuming and is a reasonably technical course of. In case you’re making an attempt to deploy a staging web site rapidly and have by no means developed domestically earlier than, this feature shouldn’t be your first selection.
  • It takes longer to arrange and re-deploy to your dwell web site than with a one-click staging web site.
  • You’ll have to manually add an SSL certificates.
  • Deploying to a dwell web site will be extra liable to errors.
  • You gained’t have the ability to check fee gateway transactions, notification emails, or any service that’s linked through API with out an web connection.
  • It’s not very accessible to collaborators.

arrange a staging web site

On this part, we’ll cowl organising a staging web site together with your host, manually, and utilizing a plugin on a hosted surroundings. These steps also needs to translate to organising a staging web site on localhost. In case you’re new to utilizing localhost, Jetpack has an article with good suggestions for localhost growth instruments

Earlier than you begin

Irrespective of the way you arrange your staging web site, just be sure you have: 

  • Internet hosting that meets WooCommerce necessities. In case your internet hosting doesn’t meet WordPress necessities, you may not have the ability to copy your dwell web site over efficiently. 
  • A staging area title linked to your net host. Some internet hosting corporations could allow you to arrange new situations of your web site on check URLs that they personal. Others could require that you just use your personal bought area title. In case you’re utilizing a URL you personal, make it possible for it’s linked to your internet hosting account by means of your DNS data.
  • Login particulars to your internet hosting management panel. These particulars are often the identical because the login info to your internet hosting account. In case you’re not sure, test together with your internet hosting supplier.
  • Safe file switch protocol (SFTP) credentials. These will be present in your internet hosting management panel. In case you’re not sure the place to seek out them, ask your host’s assist. The main points you have to are:
  • Host (your dwell server’s IP tackle)
  • Username
  • Password
  • Port quantity

Even should you intend to make use of a plugin to repeat your dwell web site to a staging surroundings, the migration could not go easily. You have to be ready to repeat your web site over manually. To take action, you’ll want an SFTP utility like: 

For this instance we’ll be utilizing Filezilla, however most SFTP shoppers work equally.

Establishing a WordPress staging web site together with your host

Many internet hosting suppliers supply one-click staging environments, particularly as a part of managed WordPress plans. That is the simplest option to arrange a staging web site as a result of your host takes care of nearly all of the be just right for you. They will additionally present assist do you have to run into any points. 

The precise steps you’ll have to take will differ primarily based in your supplier, so take a look at their documentation for all the main points you want. On this instance, we’ll be organising a staging web site with Siteground.

In your Siteground account, go to the Web sites tab and click on Website Instruments beneath the web site you need to duplicate. Go to WordPress → Staging.

Within the Choose WordPress Set up dropdown, select the positioning you’re engaged on. Then, add a reputation to your staging web site and click on Create.

creating a staging site with a hosting provider

You probably have information positioned outdoors of the standard WordPress setup — e.g. customized JavaScript — a field will seem asking if you wish to embrace these in your staging surroundings. Embody them in the event that they’re part of your web site performance or design. This can differ for every setup. Then, click on Verify.

And that’s it! You possibly can entry your staging web site from the identical space in your management panel and push adjustments to your dwell web site in a number of clicks as properly.

Establishing a staging web site utilizing a plugin

In case your internet hosting supplier doesn’t supply staging, utilizing a plugin to make a replica of your dwell web site and migrate it to a staging surroundings is the best choice. Not solely is it simpler than the guide technique, it’s much less time consuming and produces fewer errors. We’ll use the WP Staging plugin for this instance, however different choices embrace Jetpack, BackupBuddy, and Transferito

The method for every plugin will differ, so should you determine to go along with one thing apart from WP Staging, you’ll need to learn the plugin’s documentation earlier than going by means of the migration course of. After all, earlier than you do something, again up your dwell web site!

After you put in and activate the plugin, navigate to WP Staging → Staging Websites in your WordPress dashboard. There, you’ll be able to choose the components of your database and the information you need to embrace in your staging surroundings. Every part can be chosen by default, and that is the appropriate possibility for almost all of web sites. 

creating a staging site with WP Staging

Now, click on Begin Cloning. The time it takes to create your staging web site will differ primarily based on its measurement, however the plugin will maintain you up to date all through the method.

progress bar for creating a staging site

As soon as the method is full, you’re good to go! You’ll see directions for accessing the staging copy and may log in utilizing the identical credentials as your dwell web site. 

Word that you will want the premium model of the plugin to push adjustments from staging to dwell. Nevertheless, should you aren’t a developer and don’t have staging instruments as a part of your internet hosting plan, the convenience of use will more than likely be definitely worth the funding. 

Establishing a WordPress staging web site manually

The next steps are primarily based on a bunch that makes use of cPanel. In case your host makes use of another like Plesk or a proprietary management panel, the steps ought to nonetheless be fairly related. Nevertheless, should you’re not sure, you’ll be able to doubtless discover help in your internet hosting supplier’s assist documentation or by reaching out on to their buyer assist staff.

Step 1: Make a backup of your dwell web site 

Take a backup of your dwell web site earlier than you start copying your web site to staging simply in case something goes incorrect. 

Step 2: Copy your information out of your dwell server to your desktop

You’ll want an SFTP consumer and login credentials. In case you aren’t certain what these are, ask your internet hosting supplier.

  1. Log in to your net server utilizing your SFTP consumer. Enter the credentials offered to you by your host for the Host, Username, Password, and Port fields.
connecting using filezilla
  1. Navigate to a folder in your pc the place you need to obtain your web site information. In most SFTP shoppers, native information seem within the left pane and exterior server information on the appropriate.
finding site files via filezilla
  1. Navigate to the general public listing in your net server (proper pane). This folder is often referred to as ‘public_html’ or ‘www.’ The listing title can differ, nonetheless, so test together with your internet hosting supplier should you’re not sure.
site files as shown in filezilla
  1. Choose all the information from the appropriate pane and drag them to the left pane. This can take some time relying on what number of information you’ve got and your connection velocity.
moving sites from the server to a local computer

Step 3: Export your dwell web site’s database

When you’ve moved your information out of your dwell server to your desktop, you’ll have to export your database and import it to your staging surroundings. In case you attempt to go to your staging URL earlier than importing your database, you’ll see the message ‘error establishing database connection.’

database connection error

In contrast to your WordPress information, the database just isn’t accessible by means of SFTP or the cPanel file supervisor. To entry and export your database, you’ll use phpMyAdmin. Yow will discover phpMyAdmin in cPanel underneath Databases.

phpMyAdmin in cpanel

In phpMyAdmin:

  1. Choose your database.
  2. Click on the Export tab.
  3. Choose Fast because the export technique, select SQL because the file kind, then click on Go.
exporting database tables

This can obtain a .sql file to your pc. Take a notice of the place that is saved, as you’ll have to import this in your staging net server.

Step 4: Import your dwell web site’s database to your staging server

To add your dwell web site’s database, you’ll first have to create a brand new, clean database on the staging server.

  1. In your internet hosting management panel, go to the ‘Databases’ part and click on MySQL databases
  1. Create a brand new database. On this case, the database is known as ‘tutorial_mydb.’
creating a new database
  1. Create a database person. Within the MySQL Customers part you’ll create a brand new person. Use a novel username (not “admin” — get artistic) and a robust password.
creating a new database user
  1. Add the database to the person. Within the Add person to database part, choose the person and database you simply created, then click on Add.
adding a user to a database

5. Assign all privileges to the person account and click on Make Modifications.

assign user privileges

Voilà! You’ve efficiently created a clean database into which you’ll import your dwell web site’s database.

Step 5: Edit your wp-config.php file

The wp-config.php file comprises necessary details about your database. This file connects WordPress to important information like submit content material, submit meta, customers, and theme and plugin settings. Your wp-config.php file should be up to date with the staging server’s database info in order that your new staging web site can talk together with your database.

  1. In your pc, discover the copy of your wp-config.php file that you just downloaded out of your dwell web site. Then, open it in a textual content editor of your selection, like VS Code or Notepad++.
  1. Go to the mySQL part of the file and exchange your dwell web site’s database particulars with these you simply created.
// ** MySQL settings – You will get this information out of your net host ** //

/** The title of the database for WordPress */

outline( ‘DB_NAME’, ‘yournewdatabasename’ );

/** MySQL database username */

outline( ‘DB_USER’, ‘yournewdatabaseuser’);

/** MySQL database password */

outline( ‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘yournewdatabasepassword’ );

Some wp-config.php information additionally comprise the next traces:

outline(‘WP_SITEURL’, ‘’);

outline(‘WP_HOME’, ‘’);

In case you see these traces in your file, you’ll want to vary them to the URL of your staging server.

  1. Save your wp-config.php file and overwrite the one you uploaded to your net server by dragging and dropping it over utilizing your SFTP consumer.

Step 6: Import your dwell web site’s database

  1. Go to phpMyAdmin in your net server. In cPanel, you’ll discover this underneath Databases.
  2. Choose your newly created database, then click on the Import tab.
  3. Click on Select File and discover the sql file that you just exported earlier.
importing a database

4. Click on Go to start the import course of. Relying on the dimensions of your database, it would take a short time to import. When the import is accomplished, you must see all of your database tables on the left.

Step 7: Change the basis URLs in your web site’s database

Now that your information has been imported, you’ll want to interchange all situations of your dwell web site’s URL together with your new staging web site URL.

  1. Open phpMyAdmin and choose your database.
  2. Click on in your wp_options desk. Tables often seem on the left.
wp_options table in ftp

3. As soon as opened, you must see the primary two choices. Look underneath the option_name column for the labels siteURL and house.

4. Double click on on the siteurl and residential possibility values underneath the option_values column and alter each of those to your staging URL. Ensure you don’t embrace a ahead slash (/) on the finish of the URL.

editing siteurl in the database

5. Open your browser and sort in your staging web site’s URL with /wp-admin/ on the finish (e.g. This can redirect you to the login web page. 

Permalinks are the everlasting URLs for pages and posts in your web site and their underlying construction. Generally your submit and web page hyperlinks could not work in your staging web site until you flush your permalinks first. This can be a easy course of.

  1. In your staging web site’s WordPress dashboard go to Settings Permalinks.
  2. Click on Save Modifications. You shouldn’t have to vary something within the settings.
editing WordPress permalinks

Step 9: Search and exchange your dwell web site’s URLs in your database

Your web site more than likely has not less than a number of self-referencing hyperlinks that use the basis URL. In your staging web site, you don’t need these hyperlinks to nonetheless reference the dwell web site, so that you’ll have to do a search and exchange. The perfect and most secure means to do that is with a plugin. For this instance, we’re utilizing the Higher Search Exchange plugin.

Reminder: earlier than doing something to your database, make certain to create a backup.

In your WordPress dashboard:

  1. Go to Plugins → Add New.
  2. Seek for Higher Search Exchange.
  3. Click on Set up Now → Activate. 
  4. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Instruments → Higher Search Exchange.
  5. Fill the Seek for subject together with your dwell web site URL (e.g. 
  6. Fill the Exchange with subject together with your net server URL (e.g.
  7. Choose the database tables that you just need to carry out the search/exchange on. Often it’s solely obligatory to use this to the wp_posts and wp_postmeta tables.
  8. Test Run as dry run?.
  9. Click on Run Search/Exchange. The dry run implies that this may make no adjustments, however it’s going to present you the variety of adjustments that can be made while you do really run the search and exchange.
  10. Test for adjustments. When the dry run is full, you must see a lot of adjustments. In case you don’t, then you might have to double-check your URLs. In case your URLs are right and there’s nonetheless nothing to vary, then you definately don’t should do something additional and may delete the plugin.
  11. If there are adjustments to make, uncheck the Run as dry run? possibility and click on Run Search/Exchange.
  12. Deactivate and uninstall Higher Search Exchange. As soon as your search and exchange has been accomplished and also you’ve checked that the positioning is working appropriately, you’ll be able to deactivate and uninstall the plugin.

Take a break and seize a cup of espresso. You’ve accomplished your guide staging web site setup and may now start troubleshooting, experimenting, and testing!

Take a look at your staging web site for errors

Irrespective of the tactic you use to create your staging web site, you must check it to verify nothing has gone awry through the setup course of after which check it once more after you’ve made your adjustments and updates. The particular belongings you may check will differ from web site to web site, however right here’s a guidelines of some inquiries to ask through the testing course of:


  • Does the web site show as anticipated on each desktop and cellular? 
  • Do all hyperlinks work?
  • Are interactive components functioning appropriately (e.g. carousels, buttons, accordions, pop-ups)?
  • Are you able to submit kinds? Are the submissions obtained?
  • Do your Cart and Checkout pages work appropriately?

WordPress dashboard:

  • Do your dashboard pages load appropriately?
  • Are you able to add and edit posts, pages, and merchandise?
  • Can your web site be listed by search engines like google? Go to Settings → Studying and guarantee Discourage search engines like google from indexing this web site is unchecked.
  • Do your plugin and theme pages and settings work?
  • Can you put in new plugins?

Maintain your dwell web site secure and stop downtime

Whichever possibility you select, check out any main updates and adjustments to your web site in a staging surroundings as a substitute of straight in your dwell web site. Doing so will maintain your dwell web site secure from issues from new plugins, stop downtime as a result of errors or conflicts, and be sure that your guests take pleasure in a seamless and uninterrupted person expertise. 

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