Creating a staging WordPress site

A staging website is a test site you can use to try out changes you'd like to see on your live website. For example, you could test new themes, plugins, and upgrades to see if anything negatively affects your site's functionality. This allows you to work on the staging site while not affecting the live website.

Difference between staging a WordPress or Dreampress site

DreamPress is DreamHost's managed WordPress hosting. It's a premium service with several extra features over standard WordPress hosting.

DreamPress already has options in place to stage your website, so the instructions in this article are not necessary. View the articles below for further details:

With your standard WordPress One-Click Install, you'll need to manually create the staging site.

Creating the staging WordPress site

These instructions assume you've either installed WordPress manually or by using the One-Click Installer. This also assumes that your WordPress site is on Shared, VPS, or Dedicated hosting.

For the rest of this guide, it's assumed your website is 'example.com' and the staging site is 'example.dreamhosters.com'.

To stage a WordPress site, you'll need to manually create a duplicate of it. Follow the steps below in order to create a copy of your site.

  1. Create a new dreamhosters.com domain. You can name it anything you like. This guide uses the name 'example.dreamhosters.com'. It may take a few hours for the DNS to update, but once it does, you should see a 'Coming Soon' page.
  2. Copy the contents of 'example.com' to 'example.dreamhosters.com'. You can use either of the following two articles to accomplish this:

    If you followed the steps in those articles, your domain is not only copied to the new site, but the URLs in the database are also updated.

    This is very important since every WordPress database has hardcoded URLs that need to match your website name.

  3. At this point, your example.dreamhosters.com site should be an exact copy of example.com. You can now install and test anything you like. 
  4. When you've got your example.dreamhosters.com site set up exactly how you would like, it's time to migrate that data back to your live website at example.com.

Migrating the staged site back to the live site

To migrate your staged site back to your live site, you can just repeat the step you previously took top copy the site:

Both of those articles show how to import the data back into your live website and change the URLs in the database.

Once complete, your live website will be updated with the content from your staging site.

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Article last updated PST.