We are all familiar with the white screen of death. There are many reasons behind this issue but the most important one is updating failure of plugins, themes or WordPress site. The only gateway to recover fast from this issue is ‘staging site.’ Many readers ask how to update plugins or themes and test new plugins or software without affecting the current site. As per our opinion, being a WordPress user you have the privilege of using a WordPress staging site and avoid complex situations. We will show you possible systematic ways to create a staging site for your WordPress.
Why you should create a WordPress staging site?
Most of the WordPress support providers use staging site while building a new website. This process is extremely helpful while improving or updating the current site. While testing software, plugins, and updates, you can ensure that the user experience of the page viewers is not affected. Besides, working on a staging site will eliminate the chances of a negative impact in case the site crashes for reasons beyond control.
Have you ever installed a plugin? and guess what your website turned into a white screen? Panic struck you start hunting the backend only to find the same distorted layout. After a few minutes, you are not only worried about your website but also your business since the customers are leaving, sharing their poor experience and that may hit your revenue graph.
Fortunately, this situation can be avoided by making a wise choice. Install a WordPress staging site and start testing plugins and other updates on it.
Also popularly known as a testing site or a development site, this is a smart clone (offline) of your website and unknown to actual site visitors. This masked cloned site is indispensable for site maintenance. Be it a developing new website, small code change, or a plugin insertion, it is highly recommended especially to the novice WordPress users to work on a staging site in order to avoid unwanted conflicts.
Benefits of working on WordPress staging site:
- Testing plugins or developing a whole new website on a staging site is proven beneficial for web maintenance and business.
- It permits you to keep an eye on the plugin issues and resolve it saving you from embarrassments at your live website.
- Working on a staging site eliminates the threat of crashing of your website which in turn saves the live traffic.
- You have all the time in the world while coding or making changes in the staging site without putting a “maintenance board” on the live site.
Setting up a WordPress staging site
Clearly setting up a WordPress staging site is not an amateur’s job. You may need to consult with pro WordPress developers for this task. However, the job could be done in three possible ways, which are manual, using web hosts and using plugins. Here are details about staging the WordPress site:
Set a WordPress staging site manually
For the manual approach, you require significant coding knowledge. First, you need to create a subdomain on your main domain. It will help you to run the staging site in a discrete folder. Give the sub-domain a name and select a sub-domain from the drop-down menu. The “document root” text box will show a location based on the subdomain inside the cPanel. It will look like: public_html/staging. Click “create” while you complete the process.
Next, you have to create an FTP account to access the staging site and avoid the live site. After the creation of subdomain, you should copy data from the main site to the staging site. Search for the box “Copy Database To” and enter staging database’s name. Copy both data and structure without changing any setting and select “Go” to run the copy site. After copying the site, select it from the left sidebar and launch it, then click “SQL” tab. Run following SQL queries:
UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = REPLACE(option_value, ‘ORIGINAL_URL’, ‘NEW_URL’);
UPDATE wp_postmeta SET meta_value = REPLACE(meta_value, ‘ORIGINAL_URL’, ‘NEW_URL’);
UPDATE wp_posts SET guid = REPLACE(guid, ‘ORIGINAL_URL’, ‘NEW_URL’);
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE(post_content, ‘ORIGINAL_URL’, ‘NEW_URL’);
Hit the go button and wait for confirmation. Now, download a fresh copy of WordPress software from WordPress.org and upload it. Then all of the plugins and media file and theme should be copied. After that, you will be able to copy database with the WordPress staging installation. Only then WordPress will connect with staging database and detect WordPress was successfully installed. You will be asked to log in and the login credentials should be same as on the actual website.
Set WordPress staging site with Web Host
Many WordPress care plans come with one-click opportunity to create staging site. Yes, your host can bear all the responsibilities of creating a staging environment. Sometimes, the WordPress service packages also offer a command line tool. Hosting sites add speed, accuracy, and security. Besides, if you have a less technical knowledge, asking help from the WordPress service providers will be great. They offer it in so advanced level that you don’t have to continue reading this post and just sign up for their service package.
Besides, the host can offer complete documentation or guide for creating a staging site. Although the price is high, the main advantage of this process is its simplicity. Using host’s tool to create a copy of own site requires limited or no technical knowledge. However, the disadvantage or risk is also high as you may have no control over anything that may go wrong in staging procedure. Even experienced WordPress developer will admit that paying extra to the WordPress hosts is worth it.
Set WordPress staging site with plugins
Using plugin for this purpose may be the easiest and cost-effective process. With the access to WordPress admin area, you can easily install a staging plugin. A staging plugin from reliable source cover the process of copying databases and create a discrete staging WordPress site. Here are four reliable and popular plugins for creating staging site:
- WP Staging
This plugin has 4.8-star rating along with 3000 active installations. The main reason behind its popularity is its simple installation. After installing this plugin click on the option “Create New Staging Site.” Then enter the name of your staging site to create a subdirectory. Confirm scan of files, database tables, and other advanced modules. Finally, click “Start Cloning” to start the process. After completion of the project, just log in to your staging site. The admin credentials remain same in this process.
- All-in-One WP Migration
This is a well-known plugin commonly used for migrating WordPress websites. It comes with 4.7 rating and 100000 active installs. It will help you to make an exact facsimile of your website, which is ideal for all-purpose testing. After installation, click on the “All-In-One WP Migration > Export.” You will find it in the WordPress admin. With this plugin, you will have the power to change the domain name to other subdomains. You can also delete spam comments and reduce the size of the file. After the transportation, you can import the file to a new WordPress installation on a subdomain. Then, install the plugin on a new site and go to All-In-One WP Migration > Import within WordPress admin. Use drag and drop process to export file in appropriate place and start.
- WP Stagecoach
This plugin is could be installed and create a staging site within few minutes. After its installation, click on “WP Stagecoach” and you will be able to set a URL for your staging site. you can also create a password if required. Then select “Ride the Stagecoach” to build staging environment. You will have the privilege to use same user credentials of the original site while logging in the staging site.
With 4.9 star rating and 700,000 active installs, this plugin is certainly popular among the WordPress users as well as WordPress backup service providers. You can install this plugin easily and start creating back up file just by clicking “Create New Button.” Click “Build” button to scan the system. Download both archive and installer files and upload them to an empty directory on the web host with FTP. In a web browser paste and go the URL of install file. Here you can change the configuration as well as the settings of the empty database. Hit “Run Deployment” button and step by step update the database and run a test after it is completed. The best part is there is no need for the WP installation for a new site.
WordPress Staging Site Issues
Although it may sound an easy job to install a WordPress staging site and start working on it, in the real world it may not be that easy. Following are some of the common issues that are commonly faced by the developers:
- The staging site is not working or directed to 404
This problem could be faced if you have not installed the latest version. If you are facing the issue repeatedly even after installing the latest version, it is recommended to seek help from the wordpress.org support or similar.
- In case, staging site redirects to the live site it may cause major havoc.
This is a very crucial issue and can be caused by different reasons. WordPress.org support itself is offering a few solutions to find out which plugin is responsible for the issue and possible preventions. Here are the links:
- Login issue: staging site created with GoDaddy
If you have created a staging site with the help of GoDaddy or any other hosting providers and facing a login issue, then the best solution is to contact the respective support systems. A fair discussion with your hosting provider will help you to understand whether it is your fault or not and you can dig deeper with the expert’s help.
Hope these possible solutions help you out to sort the issue out. If you are still unable to, you are not alone and ask the huge community of WordPress developers or directly publish your queries in https://wordpress.org/support/ or call a professional WordPress maintenance support provider for a faster solution.
The thought of creating a staging WordPress site may be stressful for a website owner, But, if you own a WordPress website, you have the power to use several plugins and skip the hectic of technical steps. If you are afraid to rely on the plugins, you can do it manually or depend on web hosts. In both cases, you will require a little bit of technical and coding knowledge. Whatever will be your preference, we are here to help you. Stay connected for more details.