Categories: Web Design and Development news, Resources and TutorialsWordPress Tutorials, Tips and Guides

Create WordPress Staging Sites for Testing Features Before Live Deployment

For building a WordPress site, what you usually do? Build a localhost first then move WordPress from localhost to a server or build directly on your respective hosting provider? For instance, if your WordPress site is live but you want to update the current WordPress version or want to install new plugins/themes. In this situation, what will you do? Directly deploy changes on a live site? This is the first thought that comes to everyone’s mind.

Well, this is not the best practice. Everyone is well aware of the fact that, it is always recommended not to deploy/test any changes to a live site. In fact, working on a WordPress staging site eliminates the chances of a negative impact on the crashed site.

To overcome this issue, you need a hosting provider like Cloudways that provides one-click staging hosting to build an entire site before making it live. Here is a checklist that we are going to cover in this guide.

What is a Staging Environment?

Staging environment also referred to as staging site or area. It is the clone of your complete live site. You first test changes on a staging site, if something goes wrong, you can fix it accordingly. Once everything works perfect, just deploy the changes on a live site.

How Cloudways Build a WordPress Staging Environment for You?

Every WordPress site launched on Cloudways comes with a staging environment where you can build a complete WordPress site. Once staging is done, point a domain, and/or push changes to a live site via a third-party plugin.

Install WordPress on Cloudways

On Cloudways, installing a WordPress site is just a few clicks away. I assume, you already have an account with Cloudways, if not, you can easily create one from here.

Once created successfully, you will see a screen like below, click Launch.

It will ask which application and server you want to launch. In this example, we choose WordPress and DigitalOcean as our WordPress staging environment, however, you can choose any of the cloud hosting providers as a WordPress staging server.

Access to the WordPress Staging Site

Once the WordPress staging site is launched. You can get into the WordPress site by navigating to Applications tab and select your WordPress site.

Let me define the labels:

1: Get a list of Applications hosted on this account
2: This is our WordPress staging site along with the necessary details
3: The default URL to access our WordPress staging site
4: Options to do more with this site
5: You can launch more than one WordPress staging site on a single server

Get into the above WordPress staging site and you will be a similar screen like below.

This is the Application Management screen where you can get your hands dirty. The labels are pretty straight-forward if you want to get more details, give a read to WordPress Application Walkthrough.

Access to the WordPress Staging Server

Once the staging server is launched. You can get into the server via the top menu bar.

Let me define the labels:

1: Get a list of servers hosted on this account
2: Details of our staging server
3: Number of applications (WordPress, PHP, Magento etc) hosted on this server
4: Options to do more with the server
5: Just like hosting multiple websites on one server, one can launch multiple servers too

If you want to test themes/plugins or use a custom code, then clone your live site to a WordPress staging site on the same or another server. Now, test the changes and if everything is fine; deploy it on a live site.

Clone WordPress Site

If you run a web agency or want to build WordPress sites for your clients, then cloning feature manages all your needs. Whenever your client requires modifications in the code, you just need to clone his WordPress application, test changes, and deploy it on a live site.

Let’s start the process of creating a clone of a WordPress live site.

I’m assuming you have already installed WordPress on Cloudways. Navigate to Applications tab from the top left menu bar and get into the WordPress application that you want to clone.

Note: I named my WordPress application as “Breeze”.

Once you are in the application, hover on the bottom right orange button and select Clone App.

It will ask you to select the server in which you want to clone the WordPress application.

And then, here you go!

Cloning process will take few minutes to clone the WordPress site. Once done, you will find the cloned WordPress site under Applications tab.

Now, you are free to test anything for a live site.

Extend the Cloning Feature

Cloudways does not restrict you to clone applications only, but you can also clone, and/or even transfer servers to another account on Cloudways.

The above features can be used as a staging server and are very useful if you own an agency and/or build sites for your clients.

If you are a developer and uses code editor to directly communicate with Git and deploy changes, then I would suggest you give a read to connect Sublime with Git and deploy changes to a live site.

Migrate WordPress Site

Features listed above looks interesting? Want to make a copy on Cloudways to try the WordPress staging environment? Well, we care for YOU. You can easily a migrate WordPress site to Cloudways using our “WordPress Migrator Plugin”.


  • What Do You Mean by WordPress Staging Environment?

WordPress Staging environment is the environment for testing that resembles the actual production environment. It is an independent replica of the production environment.

  • What Do You Mean by WordPress Staging Server?

Staging environment includes staging server that is similar to the production server. It is always suggested to create WordPress staging environment on the same server where the live site is hosted.

  • Install WordPress on a Staging Server

Installing WordPress on staging server is just a few clicks away. Gave it a read to host WordPress on Cloud.

  • What Is a WordPress Staging Site?

A WordPress staging site is a clone/copy of your live WordPress site with restricted access. You can test themes/plugins and any other changes on staging site. Once you have tested your changes, you can then apply changes to your live WordPress site.

  • Migrate WordPress Staging to Live?

Pulling a live site to the WordPress staging environment is quite easy that can be done by using cloning feature offered by the hosting provider like Cloudways. A number of plugins like WP Staging and WP Migrate DB can also be used to pull a live site to the staging environment. However, pushing changes back to the live site is available in their pro versions.

  • WordPress Hosting with Staging?

A number of WordPress hosting providers like Cloudways offers WordPress staging environment where you can easily test a WordPress site before making it live.

To wrap up this tutorial, I would say that staging environment is the most important element in modern web development. If you have anything to ask regarding WordPress staging environment or creating a staging server, feel free to ask me in the comments section below.

Mustaasam Saleem :Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WordPress Hosting Platform, where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music. You can email him at mustaasam.saleem@cloudways.com