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How to Prevent Duplicate Payment Charges while using a Staging Site

When you create a staging site, you duplicate all the existing functionality from the main site. While this makes it a perfect environment to work on development behind the scenes, there is some risk of error involved.

For example, AccessAlly has no way of knowing whether it’s on a “live” site or a “staging” site. It will simply function as directed.

So if AccessAlly is currently collecting subscription payments on the live site, the duplicated version will also collect the same payments, which causes duplicate charges on your client accounts.

You can use the developer tools inside AccessAlly to prevent purchases and subscriptions made through your AccessAlly order forms from being lost or accidentally duplicated.

Why Do Duplicate Charges Happen With a Staging Site?

When you copy your live site to staging, all of the information is transferred over – including the payment charge info on AccessAlly.

So essentially, there are then TWO copies of the plugin, both with the exact same instructions to collect payments.

This can (and will) result in chaos, unless you tell one of the plugin versions that it is in staging mode – which is possible through the developer tools.


Please note that the instructions in this article are only a small piece of the “staging site” puzzle.

We recommend that you do not make any changes to already-existing products, offers, and subscriptions themselves inside the staging site.

If you do change the products and offers themselves, it may result in chaos when the staging site turns live, since the purchase data may not be able to sync properly with the new information, leading to lost (or duplicate) orders and subscriptions… and very unhappy customers.

How to Prevent Multiple Charges

This tutorial will walk you through the process of migrating new users and ongoing orders from a live site to a staging site, and back to live.


This is not a way to copy one AccessAlly site’s user and order data to a new “blank” AccessAlly installation… because it does not carry over all of the settings, only the payments and users.

This feature is intended for identical copies of an AccessAlly site, with minor edits like to your theme or content – not to products.

Setup BEFORE Creating a Staging Site

1. Locate Developer Tools

You can find the settings mentioned in this article by going to: AccessAlly > General Settings > Developer Tools

2. Specify which URL belongs to the “Live” site

This first option inside the AccessAlly Developer tools will ensure that your AccessAlly plugin will only charge auto subscription payments if the site URL it’s installed on matches the URL you specify in the settings.

It is recommended that you enable this box on any site that AccessAlly is installed on. This can prevent errors further down the road.

The Production Site URL should be the URL to your live membership site built with AccessAlly.

Please note that it is advised to type in the URL without the http: or https:, so a site with a URL of https://membership.yoursite.com would be typed in as: //membership.yoursite.com.

3. Create a Backup of Your Main Site

As always, please create a backup of your main site, in case something goes awry.

4. Create Your staging site

At this point, you can create your staging site.

How to Safely Make Your Staging Site Live

When first created, a staging or testing site is an exact clone of the “live site”. However, when made live, the staging site will overwrite all the information on your original live site.

This means that any new information that came into your live site during the staging process (like new orders or subscriptions) will be overwritten by the “outdated” information inside your staging site.

To help you keep your membership site open for business throughout the staging development process, AccessAlly includes a feature that allows you to transfer all of the most up-to-date e-commerce information to the new live version of your membership site.

When your membership staging site is ready to be deployed and replace the “live” version, please follow these steps exactly to ensure that your sales and subscriptions are not lost or accidentally duplicated:

1. Turn on Maintenance Mode In BOTH Sites

Before making your staging site live, maintenance mode MUST be turned on in the “live” site AND the “staging” site.
This will prevent any orders from being accepted during the transition on either site.

2. Export Migration Data

On the LIVE site, click on the “export migration data” button. This will create a snapshot of all orders and subscriptions that have been purchased on your membership site.

IMPORTANT: This setting ONLY pertains to the orders and subscriptions purchased through AccessAlly. It will NOT export any products, offers, or subscription settings.

3. Create (another) backup of live site)

Once again, please create a backup of your live site at this point. This will only be used in case of error.

4. Deploy your staging site

At this point, you may deploy your staging site to live.

Once the transition is complete and you have tested to make sure everything is working properly, you may choose to continue the steps to begin taking orders again.

5. Import Migration Data

With the staging site now active as your “live” membership site, you can click on the “import” option to important the purchase history saved in Step 2.

Once again, please note that this data ONLY includes the purchase history on your AccessAlly site. All products, offers, and subscriptions must be identical to their previous settings in order for this data to sync properly inside your “new” membership site.

If you have any questions about this process, please reach out to AccessAlly support before beginning work on your staging site.

Updated on January 20, 2021

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