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

If you’re updating your website, including new options, or rolling out a brand new design, you wish to make the method as seamless and protected as doable. And whilst you can all the time restore a backup you probably have one readily available, it’s higher to keep away from that within the first place. 

The easiest way to do that is with a WordPress staging website (additionally known as a staging surroundings), which you should utilize to check and deploy main adjustments. So if the change that you simply 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 reside website. Because of this you continue to make gross sales and supply a superb expertise for potential clients.

What’s a staging website?

Staging websites are copies of your reside website hosted on a separate URL (also referred to as a take a look at or staging URL). They’re normally the ultimate step within the improvement course of earlier than deploying both a brand new web site or vital adjustments made to an present website. On a staging website, you may take a look at new plugins, options, and design adjustments all with out affecting your reside website.

Not solely will your reside retailer not go down should you make a mistake, it’s also possible to take no matter time you have to take a look at and experiment with out complicated website guests.

Key elements of a staging website

Whereas your staging surroundings needs to be as near a precise reproduction of your reside website as doable, there are a couple of key variations: 

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

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

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

You must use a staging website when making the next adjustments:

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

The place is a staging website hosted?

Staging environments are normally hosted by means of a hosting supplier — typically the identical one which hosts your reside website. You may create a one-click staging website 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 downsides to every kind of staging website:

One-click staging

One-click staging is normally 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 reside deployment.
  • It robotically generates a staging URL, so that you don’t should buy a unique area for testing, or fiddle with subdomains and DNS.
  • It’s sometimes included in your internet hosting plan, so there aren’t any added prices. 
  • It robotically updates root URLs within the staging website’s database.
  • It’s simply accessible to collaborators.
  • Engines like google are robotically 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 along with your theme or different plugins in your website.
  • You don’t have any management over what strategies are used to create the staging website.

Handbook staging on an internet 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 may nonetheless arrange your individual. 


  • You’ve management over the way you copy your reside website to the staging surroundings.
  • You may select your individual customized take a look at URL.
  • You need to use any internet hosting firm you need.
  • It’s simply accessible to collaborators.


  • It takes longer to arrange and re-deploy to your reside website.
  • You will have to pay extra internet hosting and area registration charges.
  • Your SSL certificates will not be robotically enabled on your take a look at area.
  • This may be extra vulnerable to errors.
  • Your internet hosting supplier could not allocate sufficient sources to rapidly deploy a staging website to a reside website. That is particularly frequent on shared internet hosting plans.
  • You’ll must manually verify “Discourage serps from indexing this website” in WordPress’ Settings Studying.
  • You’ll must make your staging website unavailable to the general public utilizing a upkeep mode or privateness plugin.

Staging with localhost

Localhost staging could be a nice choice should you’re used to growing regionally and don’t want to attach with a workforce of individuals for testing. It does have fairly a couple of drawbacks that you must take into account, although.


  • You don’t should be linked to the web to work on or take a look at sure parts of your website — you may work on a flight, in your subway commute, or out tenting in the midst of the desert.
  • Your website could load extra rapidly than in your net host, making improvement and testing sooner.
  • Your take a look at website is personal and inaccessible to the general public by default.
  • There aren’t 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 website rapidly and have by no means developed regionally earlier than, this selection shouldn’t be your first alternative.
  • It takes longer to arrange and re-deploy to your reside website than with a one-click staging website.
  • You’ll must manually add an SSL certificates.
  • Deploying to a reside website will be extra vulnerable to errors.
  • You gained’t be capable to take a look at fee gateway transactions, notification emails, or any service that’s linked by way of API with out an web connection.
  • It’s not very accessible to collaborators.

The right way to arrange a staging website

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

Earlier than you begin

Irrespective of the way you arrange your staging website, just remember to have: 

  • Website hosting that meets WooCommerce necessities. In case your internet hosting doesn’t meet WordPress necessities, you may not be capable to copy your reside website over efficiently. 
  • A staging area title linked to your net host. Some internet hosting firms could allow you to arrange new cases of your website on take a look at URLs that they personal. Others could require that you simply use your individual bought area title. In case you’re utilizing a URL you personal, be sure that it’s linked to your internet hosting account by means of your DNS data.
  • Login particulars on your internet hosting management panel. These particulars are normally the identical because the login info on your internet hosting account. In case you’re uncertain, verify along 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 uncertain the place to search out them, ask your host’s assist. The main points you will have are:
  • Host (your reside server’s IP handle)
  • Username
  • Password
  • Port quantity

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

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

Organising a WordPress staging website along with your host

Many internet hosting suppliers provide one-click staging environments, particularly as a part of managed WordPress plans. That is the simplest approach to arrange a staging website as a result of your host takes care of nearly all of the be just right for you. They’ll additionally present assist must you run into any points. 

The precise steps you’ll must take will fluctuate 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 website with Siteground.

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

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

creating a staging site with a hosting provider

If in case you have recordsdata situated outdoors of the everyday 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 website performance or design. This can fluctuate for every setup. Then, click on Affirm.

And that’s it! You may entry your staging website from the identical space in your management panel and push adjustments to your reside website in a couple of clicks as effectively.

Organising a staging website utilizing a plugin

In case your internet hosting supplier doesn’t provide staging, utilizing a plugin to make a replica of your reside website and migrate it to a staging surroundings is the most suitable 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 wish 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 reside website!

After you put in and activate the plugin, navigate to WP Staging → Staging Websites in your WordPress dashboard. There, you may choose the components of your database and the recordsdata you wish to embrace in your staging surroundings. Every part will likely be chosen by default, and that is the suitable choice for almost all of websites. 

creating a staging site with WP Staging

Now, click on Begin Cloning. The time it takes to create your staging website will fluctuate primarily based on its dimension, 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 might log in utilizing the identical credentials as your reside website. 

Observe that you will want the premium model of the plugin to push adjustments from staging to reside. Nonetheless, 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 probably be definitely worth the funding. 

Organising a WordPress staging website manually

The next steps are primarily based on a number that makes use of cPanel. In case your host makes use of an alternate like Plesk or a proprietary management panel, the steps ought to nonetheless be fairly comparable. Nonetheless, should you’re uncertain, you may seemingly discover help in your internet hosting supplier’s assist documentation or by reaching out on to their buyer assist workforce.

Step 1: Make a backup of your reside website 

Take a backup of your reside website earlier than you start copying your website to staging simply in case something goes improper. 

Step 2: Copy your recordsdata out of your reside server to your desktop

You’ll want an SFTP shopper 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 shopper. 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 wish to obtain your website recordsdata. In most SFTP purchasers, native recordsdata seem within the left pane and exterior server recordsdata on the suitable.
finding site files via filezilla
  1. Navigate to the general public listing in your net server (proper pane). This folder is normally referred to as ‘public_html’ or ‘www.’ The listing title can fluctuate, nonetheless, so verify along with your internet hosting supplier should you’re uncertain.
site files as shown in filezilla
  1. Choose the entire recordsdata from the suitable pane and drag them to the left pane. This can take some time relying on what number of recordsdata you’ve got and your connection velocity.
moving sites from the server to a local computer

Step 3: Export your reside website’s database

When you’ve moved your recordsdata out of your reside server to your desktop, you’ll must 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

Not like your WordPress recordsdata, 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 beneath 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 observe of the place that is saved, as you’ll must import this in your staging net server.

Step 4: Import your reside website’s database to your staging server

To add your reside website’s database, you’ll first must 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 named ‘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 singular 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 Adjustments.

assign user privileges

Voilà! You’ve efficiently created a clean database into which you’ll be able to import your reside website’s database.

Step 5: Edit your wp-config.php file

The wp-config.php file incorporates vital details about your database. This file connects WordPress to very important information like publish content material, publish 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 website can talk along with your database.

  1. In your pc, discover the copy of your wp-config.php file that you simply downloaded out of your reside website. Then, open it in a textual content editor of your alternative, like VS Code or Notepad++.
  1. Go to the mySQL part of the file and change your reside website’s database particulars with these you simply created.
// ** MySQL settings – You will get this data 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 recordsdata additionally comprise the next strains:

outline(‘WP_SITEURL’, ‘’);

outline(‘WP_HOME’, ‘’);

In case you see these strains in your file, you’ll want to alter 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 shopper.

Step 6: Import your reside website’s database

  1. Go to phpMyAdmin in your net server. In cPanel, you’ll discover this beneath 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 simply exported earlier.
importing a database

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

Step 7: Change the foundation URLs in your website’s database

Now that your information has been imported, you’ll want to switch all cases of your reside website’s URL along with your new staging website URL.

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

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

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

editing siteurl in the database

5. Open your browser and kind in your staging website’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. Typically your publish and web page hyperlinks could not work in your staging website except you flush your permalinks first. This can be a easy course of.

  1. In your staging website’s WordPress dashboard go to Settings Permalinks.
  2. Click on Save Adjustments. You shouldn’t have to alter something within the settings.
editing WordPress permalinks

Step 9: Search and change your reside website’s URLs in your database

Your web site probably has at the very least a couple of self-referencing hyperlinks that use the foundation URL. In your staging website, you don’t need these hyperlinks to nonetheless reference the reside website, so that you’ll must do a search and change. The perfect and most secure method to do that is with a plugin. For this instance, we’re utilizing the Higher Search Substitute plugin.

Reminder: earlier than doing something to your database, ensure that to create a backup.

In your WordPress dashboard:

  1. Go to Plugins → Add New.
  2. Seek for Higher Search Substitute.
  3. Click on Set up Now → Activate. 
  4. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Instruments → Higher Search Substitute.
  5. Fill the Seek for area along with your reside website URL (e.g. 
  6. Fill the Substitute with area along with your net server URL (e.g.
  7. Choose the database tables that you simply wish to carry out the search/change on. Often it’s solely essential to use this to the wp_posts and wp_postmeta tables.
  8. Verify Run as dry run?.
  9. Click on Run Search/Substitute. The dry run implies that this can make no adjustments, however it’ll present you the variety of adjustments that will likely be made while you do really run the search and change.
  10. Verify for adjustments. When the dry run is full, you must see various adjustments. In case you don’t, then you could must double-check your URLs. In case your URLs are appropriate and there’s nonetheless nothing to alter, then you definately don’t should do something additional and might delete the plugin.
  11. If there are adjustments to make, uncheck the Run as dry run? choice and click on Run Search/Substitute.
  12. Deactivate and uninstall Higher Search Substitute. As soon as your search and change has been accomplished and also you’ve checked that the location is working appropriately, you may deactivate and uninstall the plugin.

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

Check your staging website for errors

Irrespective of the strategy you utilize to create your staging website, you must take a look at it to verify nothing has gone awry in the course of the setup course of after which take a look at it once more after you’ve made your adjustments and updates. The precise belongings you may take a look at will differ from web site to web site, however right here’s a guidelines of some inquiries to ask in the course of the testing course of:


  • Does the web site show as anticipated on each desktop and cellular? 
  • Do all hyperlinks work?
  • Are interactive parts functioning appropriately (e.g. carousels, buttons, accordions, pop-ups)?
  • Are you able to submit kinds? Are the submissions acquired?
  • 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 serps? Go to Settings → Studying and guarantee Discourage serps from indexing this website is unchecked.
  • Do your plugin and theme pages and settings work?
  • Can you put in new plugins?

Hold your reside website protected and forestall downtime

Whichever choice you select, take a look at out any main updates and adjustments to your website in a staging surroundings as an alternative of immediately in your reside website. Doing so will maintain your reside website protected from issues from new plugins, forestall downtime as a consequence of errors or conflicts, and be sure that your guests take pleasure in a seamless and uninterrupted person expertise. 

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