Do you prefer to take risks or to play it safe? When you run a website, it’s always better to choose the safe route. Taking risks could lead to dire consequences like hacks, a broken site, and malfunctions.
One of the biggest risks you can take is making changes directly to your live site. It is like walking blindfolded, not knowing the outcome, and hoping for the best.
A staging site enables you to test the changes like switching themes, add or remove plugins, add custom code etc; and make sure they actually work. But many people recreate the changes on live WordPress site which is extremely time-consuming and can result in more errors.
However, many staging solutions offer a nifty feature called ‘merge’ or ‘push to live’. This allows you to automatically replicate the changes you made on your staging site on your live site.
Seems complex? Don’t worry. In this article, we’ll show you how to set up a staging site easily and how to make the best use of it. We’ll show you how to push your changes from WordPress staging to live sites which makes things a whole lot easier.
The easiest and most effective way to set up a staging site and to push it live is by using a WP Staging Plugin like BlogVault. You can create a staging environment in one click. When you’re satisfied with your changes, you can simply click a button to push the changes onto your live site. You don’t have to replicate the changes again on your live site. It’s as simple as that!
What Is WordPress Staging To Live?
A staging site is a clone or a replica of your WordPress website. It is a private site that cannot be viewed by the public or be found by search engines. It’s a behind-the-scenes WordPress test environment where you can experiment with any kind of change you want to make on your website.
Once you’re happy with the changes, if you had to replicate the changes on your live site, you may not remember which changes you made and in what order. Recreating your steps could take a long time and can become a complex task.
To avoid the hassle, this is where the Staging to Live feature comes in. Staging to Live enables you to merge or push the changes from your staging site onto your live site. You don’t have to recreate all your steps again to reflect the changes in your live environment.
If you use a good staging service, you’ll also get the option to select which changes you want to merge and which ones you want to ignore.
Things To Consider While Pushing Staging To Live
To push staging changes to live correctly, there are a few important aspects to take into account:
1. A staging site should contain the exact same content and settings as your live site. This will ensure that you are making changes under the same circumstances.
To explain this further, let’s say you create a WordPress staging site today. Next, you make changes to your live site such as adding a plugin, inserting images, and publishing a few blog posts. A few weeks go by and you want to test out new ideas for your WordPress site. In this situation, you cannot go back and use the same staging site. You have to create a new one to ensure you are working in the exact same environment as your live site.
The changes you make on the old staging site will reflect differently on the live site once you merge it. Moreover, you will lose all the modifications and additions you had made on the live site
2. Setting up staging sites and pushing your changes shouldn’t consume too much of your time. There are manual methods to do it but you need technical expertise to do so. Furthermore, it takes a long time and entails a complex method. WordPress staging plugins are much faster as they automate the process.
Plugins make setting up the staging environment should be fast and easy so that you can concentrate on experimenting and making the changes to your site.
3. Sometimes, issues do prop up when you merge changes from staging to live. It’s always better to use a staging service that offers customer support. This will help you get your problems resolved quickly.
Now that you know what to bear in mind while pushing changes from staging to live, we can move on to the steps. In the next section, you’ll learn how to create a staging site and how to push changes you make on this site to your live environment.
How To Create And Push WordPress Staging To Live
We’ve spent over a decade working with WordPress. In doing so, we’ve gained expertise in WordPress staging and know the different WordPress staging methods inside out.
There are three main ways in which you can create a staging site – staging plugin, your web host, or manually.
Right off the bat, we advise you not to create a staging site manually. It is a complex process and requires technical knowledge and familiarity with the inner workings of WordPress.
Staging your WordPress files and staging database is not easy. Even for those who have technical expertise, it’s not recommended because whenever you modify and make changes in the backend of your website, you risk breaking your site. The purpose of a staging site is to test changes without crashing your site. Manually creating a staging site puts your site at more risk than directly making changes to your live WordPress site.
Further, if you want to push the changes you made on your staging to live site, you need to set up a complicated deployment process. And there’s a lot that can go wrong during the transition. Many times, only part of the changes are deployed and sometimes the transition can cause your site to crash. It’s safer to recreate the changes on your live WordPress site.
In the next section, we focus on using a staging plugin and your web host to stage a site and merge it to live because these methods are safe and easy to use.
1. Using A WordPress Staging Plugin (Reliable)
WordPress staging plugins enable you to create staging environments quickly and easily with just a few clicks. There are two steps to using a staging environment with a plugin:
However, you need to be careful while choosing a staging plugin because not all of them are dependable.
- Some plugins only offer staging. They don’t have the feature of merging your changes to your live site. So you’re left with recreating the changes onto your live environment. Some plugins also charge a premium if you want to access the Staging to Live feature.
- Many staging plugins like WP Staging create the staging environments on your own web servers. This is a problem because your WordPress site resides in a folder called public_html. These plugins create a subfolder here and replicate all your files. So, now your web server is now hosting two websites. This means you’ve doubled your database and increased the load on your server. This will affect your live website’s performance and speed.
- A small mistake could make the folder publicly accessible. This means visitors and search engines can view the site. Your SEO efforts could be penalized on account of duplication.
BlogVault is a backup & staging plugin that overcomes these challenges.
1. The staging feature and merge to live features are free.
2. It creates a staging environment on its own secure servers. This means your live website’s speed and performance is never compromised.
3. It also automatically password-protects your staging site so that visitors and search engines cannot access it.
We’ll show you how easy it is to use the BlogVault Plugin to stage and merge your changes:
A. Create Staging Site Using A WordPress Staging Plugin
WordPress staging plugins like BlogVault enable you to create staging environments quickly and easily with just a few clicks.
Step 1: Install the BlogVault Staging Plugin on your WordPress site.
Note: BlogVault is a premium backup plugin that offers the staging feature for free in all its pro version plans.
Step 2: Once installed, select BlogVault from your WordPress dashboard and you’ll be redirected to BlogVault’s independent dashboard. Here, you need to Add your site to the dashboard.
Step 3: Once added, under Staging, select Add Staging Site.
Step 4: The plugin will take a few minutes to set up your WordPress staging site, after which you can visit your site.
BlogVault will automatically ensure the site is private and cannot be viewed by visitors or search engines. It will password-protect your site.
To access your WordPress staging site, visit your domain, and enter the username and password created by BlogVault.
Step 5: To access the wp-admin of your staging site, simply add /wp-admin to your staging URL.
For example, if your staging site URL is https://www.example.d.wpstage.net, enter https://www.example.d.wpstage.net/wp-admin in the address bar.
This will take you to your login page. Enter your credentials and you can start using your staging site.
B. Push Changes from WordPress Staging to Live Using A Staging Plugin
Once you’re done testing out your changes and you’re satisfied with it, you don’t have to go to your live site and recreate the changes. Using BlogVault, you just need to click a button to push the changes from your staging to live site.
You don’t have to worry about losing your modifications or breaking your site. BlogVault will ensure the transition happens smoothly.
Step 1: Visit the BlogVault dashboard > staging and select Merge.
Step 2: The plugin will generate a table of differences between your live site and the staging site. You can choose to merge all changes or select which changes you want to push to your live site. The changes will automatically be replicated on your relevant live site.
This is the easiest way to set up and use a staging site. Pushing staging changes to your live WordPress site has never been easier.
2. Using Your Web Host
Here, too, we’ll cover staging in two parts:
A. How To Create A Staging Site Using Your Web Host
There are a few Managed WordPress hosts like WP Engine, FlyWheel, and Kinsta that have an option on their hosting dashboard that enables you to create a staging site.
Host-provided staging options makes it easy to stage a site. However, you need to ensure that the site is password-protected and inaccessible by visitors and search engines.
If your web host doesn’t have this option, check if your host offers the Softaculous App Installer. Most hosts like BlueHost, GoDaddy, NameCheap, to name a few, offer Softaculous. If Softaculous was used to install WordPress on your site, you can use it to stage a site as well.
Note: You can use Softaculous to stage a site only if you installed WordPress using this app when you created your WordPress website. Your WordPress installation will appear in the Softaculous App.
Here are the steps you can follow to stage a site using Softaculous:
Step 1: Log into your web hosting account. Go to cPanel and look for the Softaculous App Installer.
Step 2: Here, go to Installations and click on the icon of two pages to stage a site as seen in the image below:
Step 3: Next, choose the domain you want to create a staging site for, select your database, select Disable Search Engine Visibility, and select Create Staging.
Pro tip: If you don’t know your database name, you can find this information in your wp-config file. Open cPanel > File Manager. Open the folder called public_html and inside, you will find the wp-config file among other WordPress files. You can download it and view it in any text editor.
The time taken to set up staging sites varies depending on the size of your WordPress site. It usually takes a few minutes for your staging website to be set up after which you can access it and begin to use it.
B. How To Push Changes from WordPress Staging to Live Site Using Your Web Host
Web hosts who offer the staging feature usually have the option to push the changes to live site. Under your staging feature, you should see an option like this:
This method usually takes a couple of minutes, but sometimes, you may experience long wait times. There are also times where only a few changes are merged while the rest of the modifications get lost. This is why we strongly recommend using a reliable plugin like BlogVault to stage and merge.
If you used Softaculous to stage your site, follow these steps to push your changes to your live WordPress site:
Step 1: Visit the Softacluous App installer > Installations.
Step 2: Next to the staging icon that depicts two pages, you will see a new icon that has appeared on the left of it.
Step 3: By clicking on this new icon, you will be redirected to a page that will allow you to select and merge changes with your live site.
By clicking on Push to Live, the changes made on your WordPress staging website will be recreated on your live site automatically.
That brings us to the end of staging a WordPress site. If you followed the steps above, we’re confident that you can successfully stage a site and merge the changes.
Testing out changes before making them on your live site is a safe way to improve and develop your site. This will prevent any blunders and mistakes. Your visitors will always see a site that appears and functions the way you want it.
If you’re still worried about errors being made on your live site, always take a full backup of your site. Also if you are building new site without affecting live site, check out our guide on how to build new WordPress site while the old site is live.
We recommend installing the BlogVault Backup Plugin. It will backup your site automatically and store the copies safely. When you need to restore your site, it’s as simple as one click. The plugin is fast, easy to use, and most importantly, it works every time!
Backup and Stage Your WordPress Site With BlogVault!