New How-To: WordPress Staging Site

Feb 9, 2021

Editing a production WordPress site is like detailing your car while it’s driving down the freeway. You might arrive at your destination on time and looking good. Then again, it could all go horribly wrong—and if you do it often enough,  your luck will run out eventually.

If a business depends on its WordPress site or WooCommerce store, editing the live production installation is simply not worth the risk. WordPress staging sites, also called development sites or testing sites, are the safe alternative.

In this article, we explain what you need to know about WordPress staging sites, why you should use them, and how cPanel’s WP Toolkit (WPT) makes it easy to deploy a staging site and synchronize changes back to the production site.

What Is a WordPress Staging Site?

A staging site is a cloned copy of a production site. It has the same data and files, but it isn’t accessible to the public, and it’s usually hosted on a different subdomain. Any changes you make to a staging site are not transferred to the production site unless you want them to be. Because it’s a clone hosted in the same environment, it behaves just like the production site, making it the ideal testing ground.

In the past, creating a staging or development site was complicated and time-consuming. You had to export data from the production database, create a new database, import the data, copy the files, reconfigure the site, and set up a staging subdomain. Then you’d have to reverse the process to deploy the changes to production.

That complexity is why many WordPress users don’t use staging sites, instead opting for the risky high-wire act of editing a busy live site. However, if you host WordPress sites on a server managed by cPanel & WHM, the whole process takes just a few clicks.

Why Do You Need a Staging Site?

There are many situations where it’s a good idea to deploy a WordPress staging site to test changes before committing to them. Ideally, any change more complicated than publishing a post gets thoroughly tested before it goes live.

Use cases for staging sites include:

  • Testing new landing pages to ensure every component works as expected before potential customers visit.
  • Testing updates for compatibility issues, although WP Toolkit can automate that for you with Smart Update.
  • Creating a new theme or editing your current theme.
  • Editing the site’s code to add new functionality.

Staging sites are also useful when you want to let developers and designers work on your site but don’t want to give them access to the production installation.

Read the Guide: How to Setup a WordPress Staging Site

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