Setting up WordPress staging site is an essential aspect of any website development process. If you haven’t created your WordPress staging site yet, you should create one for your site. And if you are not sure about how to set up a WordPress staging website, you certainly have come to the right place. In this guide, I will show you some of the absolutely simple ways to set up a staging site and keep your website up and running.

WordPress is certainly one of the leading and so powerful content management systems available in the market. It powers over 60% of websites over the internet. Everybody wants a reliable and powerful solution to create a website. And WordPress is jam-packed with compelling features and functionalities. Once you have successfully designed your WordPress website, it will keep going. Right from publishing it to maintaining it, the process is never-ending.

Sometimes it may happen that you try to make some changes in your website and it leads to confusion instead of improving the functionality. Making changes to a live site if not handled properly can cause disruption and inconvenience on your website. And that’s where the concept of staging websites comes into play. Because when you want to make changes in your WordPress website such as installing a new WordPress plugin, deleting an outdated plugin, reducing your content, removing media files, etc. are some of the common reasons that can break your website if not executed in a correct format.

Therefore, it is suggested that you should use a WordPress staging site to analyze how changes will work. So, without much ado, let’s now learn about the methods to set up a WordPress staging site.

WordPress Staging site – How to Set Up

How to Set Up WordPress Staging site Through Web Host

It is crucial to choose the best web host provider for your WordPress website. However, web host providers such as Bluehost, HostGator, Kinsta, SiteGround, etc. are some of the best options available out there. You can pick any web hosting provider that you think is giving you what you are seeking. It is important for you to know that Bluehost, SiteGround, and many other managed WordPress web hosts come with built-in WordPress site staging functionality.

For instance, I will walk you through the process of building a staging environment in Kinsta.

Step 1: Login to your Kinsta dashboard.

Step 2: Head to the Sites page in the left navigation. Here you will see a list of sites/installs. Click on the one which you would like to replicate. As soon as you make your choice, you will be redirected to the dashboard.

Step 3: Now click on the Staging from the drop-down menu at the top right corner.

Step 4: Now hit on the Create a Staging Environment button.

Step 5:  You can name your staging site and the URL structure for each staging area will be seen as ‘https://staging-sitename.kinsta.cloud’. Moreover, if you have SSL enabled on your WordPress website, then SSL will be enabled on your staging site as well.

Step 6: You will now have a separate control panel along with the connection information, backup tools, plugins, DNS for your WordPress staging site.

Step 7: It’s time to fill your staging site with the content of your site. Hit the Production button to do so.

Step 8: Click the Copy button now.

Pushing Changes to the Original Website

1. Log in to your My Kinsta dashboard and pick the website you had staged.

2. Now head to the Staging Environment from the top of the page. Here in the staging environment page, you will see an option ‘Push Staging to Live’.

3. Depending on the size of your website, Kinsta will consume time to push the changes. It will notify you once the entire process completes.

How to Set Up WordPress Staging site using Plugins

Duplicator WordPress Migration Plugin

If your chosen web host provider does not provide you a one-click staging solution like Bluehost or Kinsta. Then you might need to use a plugin to set up your WordPress staging site. WordPress plugin library is loaded with plugin options that can help you with almost anything you want. Similarly, when it comes to adding staging functionality to your WordPress website. It has a range of plugins for that too.

For now, I will discuss the ‘Duplicator – WordPress Migration Plugin’. This WordPress plugin gives users the ability to clone a website or set up a staging area without any difficulty. The best thing about this plugin is that it lets you choose and replace the existing elements on your live website that you surely don’t want to be replicated to your staging area. Moreover, it provides you multiple options while you migrate your WordPress website.

One thing that is really impressive about the Duplicator plugin is that it doesn’t require you to set up a separate WordPress site. However, making use of this plugin or say any plugin requires some basic technical knowledge. Thus, it may not be the best solution for less skilled or complete beginners.

How You Can Set Up WordPress Staging Site Using Duplicator

1. Click on the ‘Duplicator’ menu right in your WordPress dashboard and head to the ‘Package’ screen.

2. Hit the ‘Create New’ button.

3. The system scan will begin and it will include the detailed information of your existing live website. Now click on the ‘Build’ button.

4. As soon as the build has been completed, you can quickly download the installer and archive files. You need to download both the files.

5. Visit your web host through FTP and upload the files to an empty directory.

6. Now go to a new web browser or a new tab and type the URL for the installed file.

7. Include the configuration details that you wish to incorporate on your staging site.

8. Click on the ‘Run Deployment’ button and follow the given instructions while updating your database.

9. Once it is done, you can check if your WordPress staging site is working fine.
That’s it!

How to Set Up WordPress Staging Site Manually

You may sometimes wish to set up a WordPress staging site manually. However, the manual process can take a lot more time than any other method. But there are certainly some legitimate reasons why any user would choose the manual method to set up a WordPress staging site. It includes many steps that need to be performed in a specified manner in order to set up a WordPress staging site properly.

No matter how good you are at learning, if you miss even a single step or make any mistake, it would lead you to a broken staging site. And such a staging website would definitely be of no use. I will tell you the main basic steps that would need to take and create a clone of your live WordPress website.

Note: This setting up of WordPress staging site manually is not at all recommended for complete beginners. Only if you are comfortable with MySQL database operations, consider this manual method. Or else go for some other method.

Here are the Basic Steps

1. You need to set up WordPress locally or at the subdomain on your web host provider.

2. Create a copy/replica/clone of your WordPress website. Make sure you don’t forget to include both databases as well as files.

3. Now you are required to import your website data into a new WordPress installation.

4. Modify the database and make sure you have updated the URLs as well as the links in the database.

5. Amend wp-config.php file in the staging site.

So, after performing all these steps in the right order and in the right format, you shall be able to access the WordPress staging site. Furthermore, you can log in to the dashboard using the live site credentials.

What are the Pros and Cons of WordPress Staging Site?

Like any other plugin or internal feature, the WordPress staging site also has some pros and cons that you should be aware of. However, the pros are certainly outweighing the cons. Let’s have a look at both of them.

Pros of WordPress Staging Site

  • WordPress staging sites can be easily reproduced either offline or online. Thus, it provides you the flexibility to work offline as well.
  • It enables you to build strong features with the freedom to test them for as long as you want.
  • You can easily test each and every aspect of your website without having to worry about the loss of users.
  • Detection of bugs, errors, and other critical issues can be done ahead of time.
  • You can take risks (in terms of functionality) and see if they work or not.

Cons of WordPress Staging Site

  • If you are not using a web host provider that comes with a built-in staging site feature, then you are likely to incur some extra charges for using a staging site. However, you can anytime move WordPress to a new host without losing any data. But, of course, that can be little tiresome.
  • While you spend quite a lot of time on your staging site, you may take more than expected time in your WordPress website development. However, you are required to optimize your WordPress website to minimize load time.

So, these were some of the pros and cons of setting up a WordPress staging site. However, there are not really many cons that can stop you from using the WordPress staging site.

How to Set up WordPress Staging Site – In Conclusion

Well, if you are a professional website developer and you know how to implement the changes in your WordPress website and you don’t have to worry about the final outcome. Whereas, if you are not sure about your technical skills then while making changes you may end up upsetting user experience. But when you are getting a chance to test everything before you implement anything on your actual website, you should avail that. Website staging allows you to test all the changes rather than directly implementing them to your working website.

I am sure by now you must have got an idea about the importance and usefulness of the WordPress staging site. So, all those who are not using WordPress staging sites can now have one just by following the aforementioned ways. Also, don’t think of the right way to do it, just choose the method which you think you can do based on your experience. And start taking advantage of the WordPress staging site now. So, let me know which method you have picked for staging your WordPress website, also, if you have any query regarding site staging in the comments below.