How to Setup a WordPress Staging Website

For WordPress developers, WordPress staging has become an integral step while performing updates, installing plugins, and testing new features and major changes without causing errors on live sites. The common practice of WordPress staging is the act of working on a clone of the website, and pushing functional changes to the active website.

There are a variety of ways to stage WordPress websites, but one of the simplest methods anyone new to WordPress could learn themselves is by using a new feature in Softaculous called WordPress Staging. This is available with every hosting account at GlowHost. We’re also offering a special on our WordPress hosting right now!

Create a WordPress Staging Website

With Softaculous’s WordPress Staging feature, it’s surprisingly easy to stage your website. It all starts within Softaculous, in your WordPress installations overview.

To start staging your WordPress website, go to all of your active installations from within Softaculous. On this page, click the very first icon adjacent to your website to begin staging.

This will be very similar to when you were installing WordPress, except this time you will not be setting a password. This process will produce an exact copy of the existing website.

Once you have your staging environment setup for WordPress, you may begin using this to test new plugins, run updates, and undergo your science experiments without fear of losing the hard work you’ve already put into the live site.

For a complete explanation on staging a WordPress website in Softaculous, visit our article, How to Stage a WordPress Website Using Softaculous in our knowledge base. While the process is simple, our knowledge base will go into even more information and cover all options available.

Staging Vs. Production Sites

While there are many stages in the inception of any website, staging and production often last longer than other phases of development. The two are closely related, and the real difference between them come down to who may access them.

Production Website: The final version of your website which your visitors will see and interact with is referred to as the production website. This version will showcase the hard work and development that went into the website, and should be error free and contain no bugs in the live environment.

Staging Website: Before reaching live production, the staging website acts as the testing environment to ensure all of your website’s functionality works as expected.¬† Although all functionality should be complete after development, staging provides an opportunity for final quality checks in a natural state. This is in comparison with making changes to the live site.

Who Needs a WordPress Staging Website?

In a perfect world, everyone would be staging their websites to mitigate any potential risks of changes. Let’s face it, there’s always a risk in updating code.

To be more realistic, anyone running a moderate sized operation should be staging their websites. Updating your website could render it unusable, and leave you with the dreaded WSOD (White Screen of Death). If you’re confident that your updates will not result in any negative impacts, then you probably don’t need to do any WordPress staging.

Below are some questions you should ask yourself.

  • Does your website generate a sizable amount of your income?
  • Do people rely on your website for services or information?
  • Do you have outdated backups, or none at all?
  • Would you not be able to recover easily should an update fail?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you should maintain a WordPress staging website.

WordPress Staging Benefits

WordPress staging addresses the risks involved with development performed on a live site. This results in time and money saved which would otherwise be spent if you had to take your website down for development or to fix errors.

Some benefits of WordPress staging can be found below. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • Catch errors and non-functional features before they reach the live site.
  • Test new plugins and code without impacting existing website users.
  • Prevents downtime due to time spent fixing mistakes.
  • Perform updates without onlookers or unexpected traffic during tests.
  • Hides pages from search engines, preventing accidental indexing.

With WordPress staging, you’re given more freedom and control over how features get implemented with fewer risks.

WordPress Staging Disadvantages

With any good practice perks, you have to take the good with the bad. Staging a WordPress website does have some drawbacks. Depending on your circumstances, the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks. Your decision to stage a WordPress website should be based on the value you receive versus the sacrifices you make.

  • Increased development and maintenance time.
  • May not always be identical copies of the active version.
  • An additional website to maintain in tandem with the production site.
  • Risk of search engines indexing the staging site if not secured properly.

Are you the only WordPress webmaster? Staging may not make sense to you. Do you have several hands committing code to your website? if so, then staging becomes important in tracking bugs and testing new features.

Other Ways to Stage a WordPress Website

The simplest method to staging a WordPress website¬† would be through Softaculous’s WordPress staging feature, however there are numerous ways to stage WordPress. Some methods will work better for specific cases.

  • WordPress Multi-site
  • WordPress cloning plugins
  • Manual copy of your files and database in another folder
  • Duplicating your files in an offline environment

Whichever methods you prefer to stage your website, you will be protecting your live WordPress website, and currently working plugins and themes.

WordPress Staging Considerations

Think about all the hard work you’ve already (or will) put into your WordPress website. Is it worth staging a second website to work on? How much time will you save from errors as opposed to time spent on working with a WordPress staging website? These are just a few questions you should ask yourself before considering WordPress staging. When a website is doing its job, it’s always advantageous to work on a copy instead of disrupting the integrity of an active website.

How do you tackle your WordPress updates and development? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below.