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How to Set Up a WordPress Staging Site (Beginner’s Guide)

How to Set Up a WordPress Staging Site

Do you want to set up a WordPress staging site?

A WordPress staging site is a clone of your live site where you can test new features, themes, and plugins before deploying them into the live site. That way you can fix bugs and test changes before adding them to your live site.

In this article, we’ll show you how to properly set up a WordPress staging site.

Setting Up a WordPress Staging Site

Some web hosting providers offer a 1-click staging setup, which is the easiest and recommended way to set up a staging site.

Bluehost, WP Engine and SiteGround are some of the few hosting providers that offer a one-click staging setup. If your web hosting provider doesn’t offer a 1-click staging setup, then you might want to migrate your hosting to a web host that offers a staging option. Alternatively, you can also build a staging site with a WordPress plugin or even manually.

Table of Contents: Building a Staging Site in WordPress

1. How to Build a Staging Site on Bluehost
2. How to Build a Staging Site on WP Engine
3. How to Build a Staging Site on SiteGround
4. How to Build a Staging Site with a WordPress Plugin
5. How to Build a Staging Site Manually

How to Build a Staging Site on Bluehost

Bluehost is one of the most popular web hosting companies and an official WordPress hosting partner. You can use their 1-click staging site option to set up your staging site quickly and easily.

The Staging site feature is available with all Bluehost hosting plans.

To roll out a new staging site, log into your WordPress admin account and visit Bluehost » Staging as shown in the screenshot.

Create staging site

From there, click on the Create Staging Site button to continue.

You’ll need to wait for a few seconds for Bluehost to set up a staging site for your main website.

Go to staging site

Next, you need to click on the Go To Staging Site button to visit your staging site. It’ll take you to the WordPress admin area of the staging site. Now you can see a red button at the top that indicates it is a staging environment.

Feel free to test with any new updates on this site. Once you tested the changes, you can add them to the live website.

Update Your Changes From Staging Site to Live Site on Bluehost

Once you tested all the changes in your staging environment, you can roll out the new features/changes to your live site as follows: Navigate to Bluehost » Staging and scroll down to Deploy Staging to Production section.

You’ll find multiple options, such as Deploy Files Only, Deploy Files and Database, and Deploy Database Only.

Deploy staging site

Select an option and click on it.

You’ll now see the popup where you can click on the Yes! Let’s Deploy button to continue.

Yes deploy site

That’s it! You’ve successfully set up a staging site on Bluehost and deployed all the changes to your production site.

How to Build a Staging Site on WP Engine

WP Engine is one of the best managed WordPress hosting companies. With WP Engine, you don’t have to worry about your site’s security, performance, speed, and backup because their platform comes bundled with all these features.

Aside from that every WP Engine plan also offers a 1-click staging environment setup.

In order to setup the staging site on WP Engine, you need to log into your WP Engine dashboard and click on your site for which you want to create a staging website.

WP Engine Add Site

After that, click on the Add Staging option to build a staging environment.

Start by entering a name for your new staging site. Click on the Create Environment button to launch your staging site.

WP Engine Site Name

The new staging site will be a blank WordPress website. You can switch to your production site from the left menu.

To clone your production site content in your staging site, you need to click on the Copy To button and click on the Staging option.

Production to staging

Then choose a backup point and click on the Preview Copy button to continue to the next step.

WP Engine Preview Copy

Next, you’ll see a popup that prompts you to confirm that you want to copy the live website’s content to the staging environment. Click on the Copy Environment button.

WP Engine Copy Environment

That’s it! You’ve set up a staging site on WP Engine and clone your production site content successfully.

Migrate Your Staging Site to Live Site on WP Engine

First off, navigate to Staging » Backup Points from the left menu. Then, click on the Backup Now button.

WP Engine Backup Points

A popup will prompt you to enter the backup description and an email address to send a notification when the backup is ready.

WP Engine Staging Backup

Click on the Create Staging Backup button to continue.

Once the backup is processed, you can go ahead and click on the Copy To option.

WP Engine Deploy Production

Now, choose the backup point that you’ve added when setting up the staging environment and click on the Preview Copy button.

WP Engine Staging to Production

A popup will open where you need to confirm that you want to move your staging site to the live site. Click on the Copy Environment button to continue.

WP Engine Confirm Copy Environment

You’ll get a notification on your email address when the migration process is completed.

How to Build a Staging Site on SiteGround

SiteGround is a leading web hosting company on the market that also comes with a 1-click staging site setup with their premium plans: GrowBig and GoGeek.

If you’ve subscribed to SiteGround with any of these hosting plans, then it’s easy to set up a staging site for you.

Start by logging in to your SiteGround‘s account and click on the Site Tools button. From there, you need to visit WordPress » Staging from the left menu.

SiteGround Staging

Next, enter the name of your staging site and click on the Create button.

Create SiteGround Staging

In a few seconds, you’ll see a success message and your staging site will be ready. You can scroll down to Manage Staging Copies section and click on the arrow icon to log into the WordPress admin area of your staging site.

That’ it! You’ve successfully created a staging site. You’re all set to start implementing new features and test for bugs.

Migrate Your Staging Site to Live Site on SiteGround

When you’re done making changes in the staging environment, you can go ahead and migrate your staging site to the live website.

To do that, go to WordPress » Staging in your SiteGround Site Tools dashboard. Then, scroll down until you find Manage Staging Copies section.

Find the staging copy you’ve created in the previous step and click on the 3 vertical dots next to it. Now, click on the Full Deploy option.

Deploy Full Staging Site

Now you’ll need to confirm the deployment. Then click on the Confirm button to continue.

Confirm deploy

You need to wait for a few minutes for the process to complete and then, you’ll see a success message.

How to Build a Staging Site With a WordPress Plugin

If your hosting provider doesn’t come with a staging option, then the ideal solution is to use a WordPress plugin to create a staging environment.

There are multiple plugins that let you create a staging site in WordPress. We recommend using WP Stagecoach, which is a popular WordPress staging plugin.

Install and activate the WP Stagecoach plugin. For more details, check out our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

After the activation, you need to visit the WP Stagecoach settings page from your WordPress admin.

WP Stagecoach Settings

Start by entering your WP Stagecoach username and API key. You can find this information on your WP Stagecoach account.

You need to specify the name for your staging site. Also, you can select Password protect the staging site option to protect your staging site.

WP Stagecoach Ride

Click on the Ride the Stagecoach button to continue.

It’ll take a few minutes to set up a staging site for your main WordPress website. Once ready, you’ll see the link to visit your staging site and its admin area.

Migrate Your Staging Site to Live Site on WP Stagecoach

When you’re done making changes on your staging site, visit WP Stagecoach » Import Changes and click on the Check for Changes button.

You’ll be asked to select the updates that you want to move from your staging site to the main site.

WP Stagecoach Import Changes

Now, click on the Import button to transfer all your changes from staging site to live website.

You need to wait for a few minutes for the process to complete and then visit your live website to see your changes in action.

How to Build a Staging Site Manually

If you’re a developer or an advanced user who wants to create a staging site manually, then this method is for you. This method will consume more time than other methods mentioned in this article.

You should also know that during the deployment process from the staging environment to the live site, your main website will go down temporarily.

To start building a staging site manually, create a subdomain on your hosting account. For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll be using the Bluehost platform to show the complete process.

Create subdomain

You need to enter a name for your subdomain, such as staging. Click on the Create button and your subdomain will be ready.

Databases

After that, you can visit the Advanced settings from the left menu. Then click on the MySQL Databases option.

Create database manually

Next, enter a name for your new database and click on the Create Database button.

Create database user

You also need to create a new database user. Scroll down until you find the Add New User section.To add a new user, enter a username, password, and click on the Create User button.

User to database

Next, go to Add User To Database section. Select the user and database that you want to connect, and click on the Add button.

User privileges

This will display the privileges screen. Next, check the All Privileges option and click on the Make Changes button to continue.

Now, you can visit your WordPress site’s admin area to install and activate the Duplicator plugin. Then, visit Duplicator » Packages page.

Next, click on the Create New button and then click Next to continue.

Duplicator create new

The Duplicator plugin will run some tests to see if your site is ready to be cloned. If all checks are passed, you can click on the Build button.

Duplicator build

You need to wait for a few minutes for the process to complete and then you’ll see a download link. Click on the One-Click Download option to save the complete package on your computer.

Duplicator download

Next, open a new browser window, and then add this URL:


https://mysubdomain.example.com/installer.php

In the above URL, you need to replace ‘mysubdomain’ with your subdomain and ‘example.com’ with your main domain name.

When you try to visit the above URL, Iyou’ll be directed to Duplicator plugin settings page.

Duplicator settings

Next, check on the terms and clickNext.

Then add information about the database that you created earlier. It’ll include a database name, username, and password.

Duplicator Install Database

Click on the Next button to continue.

On the next page, you can see the Duplicator plugin has added the URL of your subdomain automatically. If it’s not there, you can add it manually and click on the Next button.

Duplicator Update Database

Once the migration is completed, you can access the admin area of your staging site. Then start making changes to your staging site per your needs.

Additionally, you can also protect your staging site by adding a password for the subdomain. For that, you need to log into your hosting account and locate the Files section.

There, you’ll find Directory Privacy setting.

Directory privacy

To protect the subdomain with a password, select the Password Protect This Directory. Then, you’ll need to enter a name for this protection, add a username, and new password.

Protect staging site

Click on the Save button.

Move Your Staging Site to the Live Site Manually

To transfer your staging site to the live site, follow the previous step. The only difference is that in the last step, you moved live site to the staging site. Here, you got to move the staging site to live site.

You also need to create a complete backup of your main website before deploying any updates from your staging site. The Duplicator plugin also lets you create a WordPress backup easily.

After creating the backup, remove all WordPress files from the live site. Now you’ll see that your live website shows a white screen.

Then follow the previous step to import your staging site to the live website using the Duplicator plugin.

We hope this article helped you learn how to set up a WordPress staging site. You may also want to check out our guide on best WordPress backup plugins.

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