How to Easily Create a Staging Site for WordPress
A WordPress staging site is a test site that you can use to “safely” make plugin updates and other changes before going live.
In the past, it used to be very difficult to set up a WordPress staging site, but now that has changed so even a non-technical person can do it.
What is a Staging Site?
A staging site is a clone of your live website that is used for testing changes before making them live. Staging sites help you catch errors, so you don’t end up breaking your live website.
A lot of users install WordPress locally on their Windows or Mac computers to test changes. Once they’re done with the updates, they simply upload those changes from localhost to live server
The biggest problem with this approach is what if something that worked on your localhost does not work on the live server?
Often localhost and live WordPress hosting servers are not running the same environment.
Since the staging site lives on your web hosting server, you can easily prevent all those errors because it runs the same server configuration as your live site.
How to Easily Create a WordPress Staging Site
There are multiple ways to create a staging site for WordPress. The easiest of them is to use your hosting provider’s built-in staging site feature.
Some of the best WordPress hosting companies already offer 1-click staging websites. If your website is hosted with one of them, then you can easily create a staging site without any hassle.
Creating A Staging Site on Bluehost
Bluehost is one of the best WordPress hosting companies. They offer a quick 1-click staging site solution which comes with all their plans.
First, you need to login to your WordPress site’s admin area and go to Bluehost » Staging page.
This will bring you to the Bluehost’s staging site wizard. Next, you need to click on the ‘Create Staging Site’ button to continue.
Bluehost will now prepare the staging environment for your website. Once finished, you will see a success message with a link to visit your staging site.
Now, you can click on the ‘Go to staging site’ button to continue.
You will reach the admin area of your staging WordPress site. Will see a red button on top of the admin bar to indicate that you are working in the staging environment.
You can go ahead and work on your website without worrying about it affecting your live site.
Deploying changes from staging to live site on Bluehost.
Once you are ready to push changes from staging to the live site, simply go to Bluehost » Staging page.
Scroll to the Deployment Options section. You will see three options for deployment. You can deploy only the files, only the database, or both files and database.
If you’re not sure, then click on the Deploy Files and Database button to deploy all changes from the staging environment.
This will bring up a popup where you will be asked to confirm that you want to deploy the staging site to the production site. Click on ‘Yes, Let’s Deploy’ button to continue.
Bluehost will now start deploying your staging site to the live site. Depending on the size of your website, this may take a while.
The pop up will automatically disappear when deployment is over. You can now visit your live website to see the changes applied to your production site.
Creating a Staging Site on SiteGround
SiteGround is another top WordPress hosting company offering 1-click staging feature with their GrowBig and GoGeek plans. If your website is hosted with SiteGround, then this is how you would set up a staging website.
First, you need to login to your SiteGround cPanel dashboard. Next, scroll down to the ‘WordPress Tools’ section and then click on the Staging icon.
This will bring you to the staging sites page. From here, you need to add your website to the staging site manager. Once you’re done, click on the ‘Add WordPress’ button to continue.
On the next screen, you need to select the URL where your website is installed. If your WordPress site is installed in a sub-directory, then you can add that in the field next to it and click on the Add URL button to move forward.
The staging site manager will detect your website and add it to the page. You can now click on the ‘Create Staging Copy’ button to continue.
You will see a popup that allows you to password protect your staging site. This is a good idea because it prevents others from accessing your site. It also prevents Google from indexing duplicate content.
Go ahead and provide a username/password and then click ‘Continue’.
SiteGround will now create the staging environment for your WordPress website.
Once it’s done, you will see the staging site manager with links to the admin area of your staging site. Go ahead and start working on your WordPress staging site.
After you are done making changes to your website, you can push it live by going to the staging page in cPanel. You need to click on the ‘Manage Staging Copies’ button next to your website.
On the next page, you can click on the ‘Push to live’ button to push changes from staging to your live website.
Creating a Staging Site on WP Engine
WP Engine is the best WordPress managed hosting company in the world. Managed WordPress hosting is a concierge service for your WordPress site where the hosting provider takes care of updates, backups, security, and performance.
WP Engine offers one-click staging solution with all their plans. If you are using WP Engine to host your website, then this is how you would set up a staging environment for your site.
First, you need to login to your WP Engine dashboard. Next, go to the Sites page and select your website by clicking on it.
This will bring you to your website dashboard. Now, you need to click on the Add Staging link from the left column.
On the next screen, you need to enter a name for your staging site under the ‘Create New’ tab. This name will also be the subdomain of your staging site.
Click on the Create Environment button to continue.
WP Engine will now create a staging site for you. However, this staging environment is just an empty WordPress site that does not have any content on your live website.
Let’s change this.
Switch to your production environment by clicking on production from the left column. On the next screen, click on the Copy to button at the top right corner of the screen.
Next, you will be asked to select the backup point you want to use for your staging site. If unsure, select the most recent back up of your website.
Click on the preview copy button to continue.
You will see a warning popup informing you that you are copying the source website to the staging environment. Click on the Copy Environment button to proceed.
WP Engine will now copy your live website to the staging environment. You will receive an email notification when it is done.
After that, you can log in to your staging website using the same admin username and password as your live website.