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How to Prevent Duplicate Payment Charges with a Staging Site

It’s important to double check your setup and prevent duplicate payment charges with a staging site used during the development process.

A membership site is a complicated ecosystem. For use cases where you find yourself having to alter your AccessAlly site with a staging site, the developer tools are necessary 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.

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

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

Part I: Avoid Duplicate Subscription Charges on Staging or Testing Sites

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, whether a staging site or a live site.

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.

Part II: How to Use the Developer Tools When Transferring a Staging Site

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:

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 3: 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.

Step 4: 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 October 30, 2020

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