How to Create a Staging Area for Your WordPress Site

Creating a staging area for your WordPress site gives you the benefit of testing, altering and improving your site’s features before they go live on the site. A staging site is one that’s identical to your existing WordPress site, making it possible for you to improve on your site without the pressure that comes with having to shut it down temporarily.

Most of your site staging needs can be solved using either of two methods – using your site host or a plugin. If you are not versed in MySQL, you’ll want to use one of these two simple methods. Some WordPress site hosts have built-in staging sites as part of their package. Alternatively, you may use the WP staging plugins.

Some WordPress hosts incorporate built-in staging sites to their packages, including WP Engine, SiteGround, Flywheel, Kinsta and Pressable. Since the hosts are likely to vary in their methods, you have to depend on their guidelines to create your staging site. This technique is user-friendly and requires zero expertise, but the downside of it is that your WordPress has to be hosted on these web hosts, and it denies you the control of the stage creation process.

You can use plugins like WP Staging to stage your site.

Note: The WP Staging plugin does not work for a multisite setup or on Windows Server.

The WP Staging plugin works by creating a clone of your website into a subfolder of your main WordPress installation that includes an entire copy of your database. There is no option for it to set it up in a sub-domain setting, as it can be complicated to set up.

1. In your WordPress Dashboard, go to the Plugins area of your WordPress site.

2. Click “Add New,” as seen in the screenshot below

3. Now, go the search box on the right side, enter “WP Staging” and click Enter.

4. Finding WP Staging in your search results, click on “Install Now.”

5. Click on the “Activate” button.

6. You’ll be taken to a page to start cloning. Click on “Start Cloning” as shown in the screenshot below.

7. The plugin takes you to a page where you can clone your site in three simple steps. Click on the button labeled “Create new staging site,” as shown below, to start cloning.

8. Now, name your staging site and hit the button that says “Start Cloning.” The size of your site is what determines the length of time of the staging process.

8. When your site is done cloning, click the button as show in the image below asking you to “Open staging site (login with your admin credentials).”

9. You’ll be denied access and asked to log in using your Username and Password.

10. Enter your login credentials in the appropriate boxes and click login to gain access to your cloned site.

11. Your staging site’s Dashboard looks just like your website with minor differences like the orange-colored ribbon and the unique URL.

Your cloned site’s permalinks are disabled by default. Usually, staging sites do not need permalinks. Since both your production and staging sites are reachable under the same domain, verify that you’re NOT working on your production site and are instead working on your staging site. It’s easy to confuse one for the other.

WP Staging automatically sets your staging site to go with the name “STAGING – [Your Website Title],” which you’ll find on the admin bar of your staging site. If you ever decide to delete your staging site, follow these steps.

1. Go to your production site’s dashboard and click on the WP Staging link on your dashboard menu.

2. Click “Delete” as shown in the box in red below. You can also click on any of the options there to open or edit your staging site.

WP Staging is just like any other plugin. If you wish to stop using the plugin, click on your plugins in your dashboard menu, scroll down to select “WP Staging” from your list of plugins and then click uninstall.

It’s usually frustrating when your site goes down, even if it is for a few minutes of maintenance. Along with making sure you don’t err by making changes directly to your WordPress site, a staging site also gives you the liberty to take your time to continually improve on your site while your main site remains live.

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