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How to Easily Create a Staging Site for WordPress

bluehost staging site

What is a staging site?

A staging site is a replica of your website that you use to test changes before they are made live. Staging sites can help you spot errors and prevent you from breaking your live website.

Many users install WordPress locally on Windows and Mac computers in order to test new features. After they are done updating, they upload the changes to their localhost account.

This approach has one major problem: what happens if something you tried on your localhost doesn’t work on the live server?

Sometimes, live WordPress hosting servers and localhost are not in the same environment.

Because the staging site is hosted on the same web hosting server as your live site, it can be easily prevented from making any errors.

Let’s now take a look at setting up a WordPress staging site.

How to Create a WordPress Stage Site

There are many ways to set up a WordPress staging site. You can use the built-in staging feature of your hosting provider to create a WordPress site.

One-click staging sites are offered by many of the top WordPress hosting companies. You can create a staging website easily if your site is hosted with one.

We also offer a solution for those who don’t have one of these hosting options. This plugin can be used to create a WordPress staging website.

You can navigate faster by using the navigation below. This will allow you to jump to the most relevant section for you.

Bluehost: How to Create a Staging Site

Bluehost is a top-rated WordPress hosting company. Bluehost offers a 1-click staging solution that comes with all of their plans.

You first need to log in to your WordPress website’s admin area. Next, go to Bluehost >> Stage page.

 

This will take you to Bluehost’s staging website wizard. To continue, click on the “Create Staging Site” button.

 

Bluehost will prepare the staging environment for you website. After the process is complete, you will receive a success message and a link to your staging site.

 

To continue, click on the “Go to staging location” button.

The admin area of your staging WordPress website will be opened. To indicate that you are in the staging area, you will see a red button at the top of the admin bar.

You can continue working on your website and not worry about whether it will affect your live site.

Changing from staging to live on Bluehost

When you are ready for changes to be pushed to live, go to Bluehost >> Stage page.

 

Scroll down to the section on Deployment Options. There are three options available for deployment. There are three options for deployment: you can either deploy the files only, the database only, or both.

To deploy any changes to the staging environment, click the Deploy Files or Database button.

The popup will ask you to confirm that the staging site is being deployed to the production site. To continue, click on the ‘Yes Let’s Deploy’ link.

 

Bluehost will now begin deploying your staging website to the live site. This may take some time depending on how large your website is.

When deployment is complete, the pop-up will be automatically deleted. To see the changes made to your production website, you can visit your live site.

SiteGround allows you to create a staging site.

SiteGround, another WordPress hosting company, offers 1-click staging with their GrowBig or GoGeek plans. This is how to set up a staging site if your website is hosted by SiteGround.

Login to your SiteGround dashboard. Scroll down to the section titled “WordPress Tools” and click on the Staging icon.

 

This will take you to the staging site page. You will need to add your website the staging site manager. To continue, click the “Add WordPress” button.

 

Next, select the URL of your website. To move on, you can add the sub-directory where your WordPress site is located.

 

Your website will be detected by the staging site manager and added to the page. To continue, click the “Create Staging Copy” button.

 

A popup will appear allowing you to password-protect your staging site. It is a great idea as it blocks others from accessing your site. This also stops Google from indexing duplicate content.

Enter your username or password, then click “Continue”.

 

SiteGround will now set up the staging environment for WordPress.

After it is done, you’ll see the staging website manager with links to your staging site admin area. Start working on your WordPress staging website.

Once you’re done with making any changes to your website you can push it live from cPanel’s staging page. Click on the button ‘Manage Staging Copies’ next to your website.

 

You can click the button ‘Push To Live’ to make changes to staging and push them to your live website.

 

Create a staging site on WP Engine

WP Engine is the most trusted WordPress managed hosting company. Managed WordPress Hosting is a service that takes care of your WordPress site’s security, performance, and updates.

WP Engine provides a one-click staging option with all plans. This is how to set up a staging area for WP Engine if you use it to host your website.

Login to your WP Engine dashboard first. Next, click on the Sites tab to select your website.

 

You will now be able to access your website dashboard. You will now need to click the Add Staging link in the left column.

 

Next, click the “Create New” tab to input a name for your staging website. This name will also become the subdomain for your staging site.

 

To continue, click on the Create Environment button.

WP Engine will create a staging environment for you. This staging environment does not contain any content from your actual website.

Let’s make this change.

Click on Production from the left column to switch to your production environment. Click on the Copy button in the upper right corner of your screen.

 

Next, select the backup point that you wish to use for your staging website. You can also choose the most recent backup of your website if you are unsure.

 

To continue, click on the preview button.

A pop-up will appear informing you that the source website is being copied to the staging environment. To continue, click on the Copy Environment button.

 

WP Engine will now move your live website to the staging area. When it is complete, you will receive an email notification.

You can then login to your staging site using the same admin username/password as your live website.

Deploying Stage to Live Website on WP Engine

Before you can push the changes from WordPress staging site to your live site, you need to first create a backup.

Backup points are like saving your progress in a video game. Before you can deploy your staging site’s updates to the live site, you need one.

Go to WP Engine Dashboard and click on Stage >> Backup Points menu in the left column.

 

Next, enter a description of your backup to help you remember what happened later. Finally, click on the ‘Create a staging backup’ button.

 

WP Engine will now create an automatic backup point for you website. When your backup is complete, you will be notified by email.

Now you are ready to deploy your staging area.

Click on the “Copy to” button in the upper right corner of your screen, and then select “Production”.

 

Next, select a backup point. Next, select the backup that you have created previously and click the preview button.

 

A warning message will appear. Click on the “Copy Environment” button to continue.

 

WP Engine will now transfer your staging environment to the live website. When it is completed, you will receive an email notification.

You can then log in to your live site to verify everything is working as it should. This is because you have tested all of your changes on stage.

Using WordPress Plugins to Create a Staging Site

A WordPress plugin can be used to create a staging page if your WordPress hosting company doesn’t offer it.

This method has its disadvantages.

A plugin will have limited control over your hosting server. It may not always deliver the best results.

Second, the plugin that we use will store your staging website on their servers. This may not be the best situation for you if you are concerned about data privacy or privacy.

Let’s now see how to make a staging WordPress website using a WordPress plugin.

First, install and activate WP Stagecoach. You can find more information in our step-by-step guide to installing a WordPress plugin.

The plugin will automatically add a WP Stagecoach menu item to your admin bar upon activation. You can click on it to go to the plugin’s settings page.

 

Enter your WP Stagecoach username, and the API Key. These can be found under your account on this plugin website.

You will then be able create your staging site.

Your staging site name must be provided. This name will be used to create the subdomain for your WordPress staging site.

Make sure to tick the box next the ‘Password Protect the Staging Site’ option. This will protect your staging site from search engines and public view.

 

To continue, click on the button ‘Ride The Stagecoach.

This plugin will create a backup from your WordPress files and databases to be exported for your staging site. After the plugin is finished, you’ll see the link to your staging website and its admin area.

Click the link to go to your staging site.

Stage to Go Live with WP Stagecoach

When you are ready for import changes to your live website, go to Stagecoach >> Import Content page. Click on the Check for Changes button.

Now, the plugin will check for any changes to your staging site and show you options to export them.

 

You have the option to either import file changes only, database changes only, or all changes. To continue, click the import button.

The plugin will display the progress of your import and notify you when it is complete. To verify that all changes have been successfully imported, you can now test the live site.

Make a staging site for WordPress manually

This requires that you manually create a staging area for your WordPress installation. This method is more difficult than the other options and is recommended for advanced users.

This method has a disadvantage: your website may not be available while changes are being deployed from the staging server to the live server.

Let’s now see how to manually set up a staging area for your WordPress website.

You will first need to create a Subdomain for your staging site. Click on the Subdomains link under the Domains section of your hosting account dashboard.

 

Note: We’re using Bluehost in our example screenshot, so your screen may look different.

Next, enter a name for the subdomain (e.g. staging), and click on the Create button.

Your hosting control panel will now add the subdomain. This subdomain can be used to import your WordPress site.

Next, install and activate Duplicator on your live website.

After activation, click on the Duplicator menu on your WordPress admin sidebar. Click on the Create New button.

 

You will then be asked to click the Next button to proceed.

Duplicator will run the website duplicater wizard. It will first run tests to verify everything is working. Click on the button to ‘Build’ if all items have been marked as ‘Good’.

 

Now, the plugin will create a duplicate package of your WordPress website. This may take several minutes, depending on how large your website is.

After you are done, you will see the download options for Installer or Archive. To download both files, you will need to click the “One-click download” link.

 

Both of these files must be uploaded to the subdomain file directory you have just created. See our guide to FTP for uploading files to WordPress.

Next, you will need a database for your staging WordPress site. Let’s make one.

Go to your WordPress hosting account control panel and click the MySQL Databases icon under the Databases section.

 

Next, enter a name and click on the Create Database button.

 

Next, create a MySQL account for your database. Scroll down to the MySQL Users section, and enter a username or password for your new user.

 

You will now need to grant this user access to the database that you have created. Scroll down to the section ‘Add user database’ and choose the database you have just created.

 

To continue, click on the “Add” button.

The next step is to choose the privileges that you want for the user. Select ‘All Privileges’ and click the “Make changes” button.

 

Your database is now ready for use in your staging website.

Next, open a new tab in your browser and go to the subdomain of the staging site.

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

Do not forget to replace yoursubdomain.com with the subdomain.

This will activate the Duplicator wizard.

 

The archive file will be searched by the installer. To continue, you will need to review the terms and conditions and click the next button.

The installer will now ask you to enter the information for your WordPress database.

Localhost will be your host. Next, enter the details for the database that you have created for your domain name.

 

Once you are done, click the next button to move on.

Duplicator will now extract your WordPress backup from the archive and place it into your new database.

It will then ask you to change the site URL or path. It will detect your new subdomain URL and its path automatically so you don’t need to do anything.

If it does not, you can modify the URL to point to your subdomain. To continue, click the next button.

 

Duplicator will finish the migration.

To access the WordPress admin area on your new site, click the “Admin Login” button.

You have now set up your staging site. Now let’s make sure it is protected by adding password protection for your subdomain.

Go to the cPanel dashboard of your hosting account and click on Directory Privacy.

 

Next, select your subdomain folder. Then check the box to ‘password-protect this directory’. Next, you will need to enter a name and password.

 

To save your settings, click on the Save button. The password protection will hide your staging site.

Now you can work on your staging site, and make any modifications that you wish.

Manually Deploy Staging Website to Live

Once you’re ready to deploy changes to your staging site to the live servers, you will need to follow the steps outlined above.

Create a new Duplicator Package on your staging site and then download the Installer and Archive files directly to your computer.

Next, go to your live website and create a WordPress backup. Duplicator can also be used to create a backup.

After you’re done, you need to delete all WordPress files from your live site. Your WordPress website will go down temporarily.

Follow the steps above to run Duplicator wizard to import staging site onto a live server.

The last option is not always the best. This should be avoided at all cost. Bluehost, SiteGround or WP Engine are reliable hosting providers that offer built-in staging features.

We hope you found this article helpful in creating a staging area for your WordPress website. You can also refer to our comprehensive guide to fixing common WordPress problems if you have any questions.

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