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Setting Up a Staging Site WordPress

If you’re working with an existing WordPress membership site, you’ll want to make a working copy of your website, often called a “Staging Site” that you’ll be able to work on behind the scenes.

What is a Staging Site?

A “Staging Site” is a working copy of your website, that you can use to test plugins, theme changes, and extensive content changes without affecting your main website.

Making a Staging copy of your current WordPress website is a good development practice, and it will save you a lot of frustration if anything goes wrong or you plan to be working on the site for more than a day.

The benefit of a Staging site is that you can do all of your modifications without anyone seeing your changes, and then when you’re ready for the big reveal, you simply go from “Staging to Live” and replace the current site with your updated one.

Important! About Recurring Payments and Staging Sites.

When using a staging site you’ll want to make sure that you are not processing any recurring or subscription payments on your staging site! Processing payments on the staging site results in duplicate payments if not managed properly. To avoid duplicate payments follow the steps below.

  • On your staging site go to AccessAlly > General Settings > Initial Setup > Developer Tools
  • Next look for the section called To Avoid Duplicate Subscription Charges on Staging or Testing sites
  • Add a checkmark to the box “Only process subscription and recurring payments on the specified site
  • In the Production URL box type in your AccessAlly site URL (this is NOT the same URL link as your staging site)
  • Complete this process for both your staging site and AccessAlly live site using the live site URL for both sites!

Staging Site Payment Settings in AccessAlly

How to Set Up A Staging Site On WordPress

Keep reading to see how you can easily make a staging copy of your WordPress website, and how that will help you set up your AccessAlly membership site.

Tutorial: Using WPEngine’s Staging Functionality

Part I: Create the Staging Site

WPEngine hosting makes the staging site process incredibly simple and straightforward.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Head over to your WordPress Dashboard (yourdomain.com/wp-admin or installname.wpengine.com/wp-admin)
  • Select the WP Engine logo on the top left corner of the sidebar
  • Select the “Staging” tab
  • Click “Copy site from LIVE to STAGING”

After click the Copy site from LIVE to STAGING, a staging site will be created for you. This might take a little while, depending on the size of your website.

Once the staging site is ready, a link will appear so you can access it.

Note: If you’ve created a staging site before, this process will overwrite your previous staging site.
WPEngine offers more detailed information on this process here.

Part II: Make the Staging Site “Live”

Once you’ve finished working on the staging site, it’s time to push those changes back to your live site! In your WordPress dashboard, head over to WPEngine > Staging.


Then, you can select the button “Copy site from STAGING to LIVE.”


Next, you’ll see a dropdown that allows you to choose which database tables you’d like to push to the main site. If you choose “All Tables,” know that any changes made to the live site (new posts, pages, etc.) will be overwritten, if they were made during the time you were working on the staging site.

WPEngine offers more detailed information on this process here.

Tutorial: Using the BackupBuddy Plugin To Manually Create a Copy of Your WordPress Site

Part I: Create the Staging Site

The BackupBuddy plugin will allow you to manually create a copy of your WordPress site that you can use as a staging site.

To do this, begin by making a backup of your website.

Then, you’ll want to restore this backup on a new domain. An easy way to do this is by using a subdomain, like: staging.yourdomain.com

After your backup has been restored on a new domain, head back to your “live” (main) site and go to BackupBuddy > Remote Destinations > Show Deployment Key.

If you’ve never selected Deployment before for this site, you will need to add this line to your wp-config.php file:

define( ‘BACKUPBUDDY_API_ENABLE’, true );

Once you’ve added the line to your wp-config.php file, refresh the page. Then, select “SHOW DEPLOYMENT KEY.” This will reveal your API key, which you want to copy & paste into your staging site.

Still inside your staging site, go to BackupBuddy > Remote Destinations > Add New > BackupBuddy Deployment (BETA).

Here you’ll add the API key that you copied from your live site.

…and your new staging site is all set up and ready to go!

BackupBuddy offers more detailed information on this process here.

Part II: Make the Staging Site “Live”

You can begin by logging in to either your staging OR your live site. Then, go to BackupBuddy > Remote Destinations > My Deployment Site.


Select either “Pull From” or “Push To,” depending on which one you want to do. This will reveal information on both of your websites.


Now you’ll be able to select which data you’d like transferred to your live site. To begin the transfer process itself, select “BEGIN PUSH/PULL.”


Once the transfer has been completed, test the changes on your live site to make sure everything looks ok. Once you’re satisfied, select “CONFIRM CHANGES.”

If, on the other hand, you’re NOT satisfied with the changes, select “UNDO DATABASE CHANGES.”

The summary of all transferred files can be found at BackupBuddy > Remote Destinations.


BackupBuddy offers more detailed information on this process here.

Updated on January 27, 2020

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