How To Create And Use WPEngine Staging Environment (Complete Guide)

Jun 22, 2020

How To Create And Use WPEngine Staging Environment (Complete Guide)

Jun 22, 2020

Have you ever made changes on your website and it hasn’t turned out the way you expected it to? Reverting back is stressful and time-consuming.

Fortunately, there is a solution – a WordPress staging site! This provides you with a safe environment to develop and experiment with your site.

WP Engine has a staging feature built into its platform.

How does it work? How to use it? Where can I find it?

We’ve hosted websites on WP Engine and have checked out their staging features. We answer all your questions. We’ll show you how to create a staging site and how to use it on WP Engine.

TL;DR

Using WordPress hosts for staging can slow down your website because it uses the same server as your live website. You need a solution that uses its own web servers so there’s never any extra load on your own. Use BlogVault to set up a staging site in under a few minutes. Your staging site will never affect your live environment, and what’s more, merging the changes is as simple as one click.

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What Is A Staging Site On WPEngine?

If you plan on making major changes like shifting to a new theme, updating your WordPress website, installing a new plugin on your WP Engine site, we recommend first testing it out on a staging site.

A staging site is like a play environment to make all sorts of modifications to your site without ever affecting your live site. It is an exact replica of your live website, so the results shown here will reflect what it would look like in your live environment.

This feature is extremely handy for developers. And many website owners tend to be under the impression that such features are required only by big corporations. But truth be told, every website, even a small or medium business, needs to use a staging site.

WP Engine supports this staging feature with all of its WordPress Hosting Plans to facilitate safe WordPress development.

This feature will enable you to check for errors and bugs behind the scenes, so you can fix them before you make the changes on your production sites. You can avoid putting your site in maintenance mode. Your visitors and search engines will always see an up and running, fully-functional website.

WP Engine supports developers by having the staging feature built into its plans. However, the staging site uses the same server as your live website. This means when you create and use a staging environment, your web server has to host two websites. Your server will divert resources to the staging site which will impact your live site in terms of speed and performance.

To stage a site, you should ideally use a different server from your website’s server. This will ensure your live site is never impacted while creating or using your staging site. If you’re looking for such a solution, BlogVault has a free staging solution that’s easy to set up and use. It’s hosted on BlogVault’s own secure servers so your original site is never impacted.

That said, if you still want to proceed with staging a site on WP Engine, we’ve detailed the steps below.

Fun Fact: Earlier, WP Engine’s staging feature was called Legacy Staging. Then in 2018, WP Engine announced a new staging and development environment feature. WP Engine’s Legacy Staging Environment was eventually replaced with the new one.

How To Create A Staging Site On WPEngine

To stage a website, you need a WordPress staging plugin that will copy the contents of your site from live to staging. Some web hosts offer staging sites as a part of the hosting plan or as a premium add-on.

If you’re a WP Engine customer, the managed WordPress host provides this feature on your dashboard. It’s easily accessible and easy to use the WP Engine create staging site feature!

Step 1: Log into your WP Engine Hosting Account. On the dashboard, go to Sites and select your website.

Step 2: You’ll see three options appear – Add Production, Add Staging, Add Development. Select Add Staging, name your staging site, select Create Environment. The process of WP Engine copy production to staging will begin.

 

 

adding wpengine staging environment

TIP: While naming your WP Engine staging site, you can use the name only once. You cannot reuse names even after you’ve deleted the staging site from your dashboard. If you name your staging site abc.wpengine.com, you can never use abc.wpengine.com again as your WP Engine staging URL.

Step 3: To access your staging site, go back to Sites on your dashboard. Your staging site will appear here with an icon STG next to its name.

Step 4: By clicking on this site, you’ll be directed to a dashboard where you can access your wp-admin page.

You can use your WP Engine staging site the same way you would use your live website. Once you’re happy with the changes you made, visit your homepage, cart and checkout pages, your blog, and any other important pages on the staging site to make sure everything is working fine.

To make the changes on your live site, you don’t have to go back to your live environment and recreate the changes. This would lead to confusion and be an unnecessary waste of time.

Instead, you can automate the process by pushing staging to production the changes you made to your live site. Let’s look at how you can do this on WP Engine.

How To Move WPEngine Staging To Live

To move changes from WP Engine move staging to production environment, you just need to click a few buttons on your WP Engine dashboard.

Step 1: Access your WP Engine staging area under Sites on your dashboard.

Step 2: Select your staging site to access the staging dashboard.

Step 3: Here, you’ll see options on the top right-hand corner Copy From and Copy To.  Select the Copy To option. Follow the instructions, select the changes you want to implement on your actual WordPress site, and merge them.

 

 

merge staging to live on wp engine

 

 

Again, after using WP Engine push staging to live feature, we recommend that you visit your live site and check that your changes have reflected. Check integral pages such as your homepage, cart and checkout pages, your blog, and any other important pages. If you don’t see the changes, clear your server and browser caching, and try visiting your site in incognito mode.

PRO TIP: You need to create a fresh staging site every time you want to use one. It’s not possible to continue using the same staging site each time. Say, you stage a site and push the changes on Monday. Then, you publish a few blogs and install a new plugin through the week. On Friday, if you want to use a staging site, you have to create a new one to ensure both the environments are an exact match. If not, changes will reflect differently on your staging site and your live site.

Once you’re done using the wp staging site and the WP Engine staging to live feature, it’s best to delete it. We reveal why and how next.

Deleting A Staging Site On WPEngine

Staging sites provide numerous benefits for developers, but once you’ve completed merging your changes, you need to delete your WP Engine staging environment for two main reasons:

    1. When you create the staging site, WP Engine stores it on your same server where your live site is stored. Your server has to shoulder the burden of two WordPress websites now.  This will affect your live website’s speed and performance. To free up server resources and optimize your site, we suggest deleting unnecessary elements like your staging site once you’re done with it.
    2. You need a fresh site every time you want to work with a staging environment. Staging takes your site from live into a secret duplicated environment and it needs to be the latest updated site. It’s best to get rid of staging sites once you’re done with it to ensure you or any member of your team doesn’t use it again.

To delete a staging environment on WP Engine, follow the steps below.

Note: You need to have Owner Level access. You won’t be able to delete a site if you are not an Owner.

Step 1: Log in to your WP Engine account and access the User Portal.

Step 2: Under Sites, locate your staging site’s name, you’ll see three dots on the right-hand side of the screen. This is a quick action menu.

 

 

quick action menu on wp engine to delete staging

Step 3: Click on the three dots to get a drop-down menu. Here, select Delete Environment.

Step 4: Type the name of your environment to confirm the deletion.

PRO TIP: If you don’t want to use the quick action menu, click on the staging site and you’ll be redirected to the site’s dashboard. Here, there’s an option to Delete Environment like so:

delete staging environment on wp engine

 

 

The fact that WP Engine offers the staging feature within its hosting plan is amazing. Plus, you get acccess to the WP Engine deploy from staging feature. You won’t find this option with many hosts. However, the WP Engine staging site uses the same server as your live website. This means while you create and use a staging environment, it will consume your server resources and your live environment could be impacted in terms of speed and performance.

If you want a solution to overcome this issue, you can opt for our WordPress Staging Plugin BlogVault. Plus, your changes will move faster from staging to live.

How To Stage A WordPress Site Using A Plugin

There are many staging plugins available in the market. But not all of them host the staging site on their own servers. We suggest that you compare plans of different plugins before opting for the right one.

BlogVault is a widely popular and trusted WordPress Backup Plugin that offers its staging feature free with all plans.

To stage a site, you can follow the steps below:

Step 1: Create an account with BlogVault and Add Your Site to the dashboard.

 

 

add site on blogvault

Step 2: The plugin will automatically sync and take a backup of your WordPress site. This will take a few minutes tops.

Step 3: Select your site and locate the Staging tab. Here, you can Add Staging Site.

 

 

add staging site on blogvault

Step 4: BlogVault will create the staging site automatically on its own servers. This ensures there is never any load on your live website. Once complete, your staging site will be protected with a username and password. This ensures that your site is private and visitors and search engines cannot view your staging site.

 

 

set up staging site on blogvault

Step 5: To access your staging site’s WordPress admin panel, go back to the Staging tab on the BlogVault dashboard. Select your newly staged site and it will display your stage site URL. Now, enter this URL in your browser’s address bar and add ‘wp-admin’ to your staging site’s name.

For example, if your staging 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 WordPress credentials and you can start using your staging site.

Step 6: Once you’re happy with the changes you’ve made, go back to Staging on the BlogVault dashboard. Here, you can merge your changes to your live WordPress site with one click.

 

 

merge staging to live on blogvault

 

 

You will be given the option to choose whether you want to merge all changes or select the ones you want. Within a few minutes, your changes will appear on your live site.

You needn’t worry about deleting your site as the staging site will expire on its own within 30 days. However, you can choose to delete the site if you choose.

That’s it! You’re done staging and merging a WordPress site. You can explore our platform and check out the other benefits of the plugin such as backups and security.

 

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What’s Next?

Staging environments enable you to keep your live WordPress website functioning perfectly fine for your visitors while you experiment with it behind the scenes.

But as we mentioned, WordPress sites can be sensitive to change. Whether you choose to stage your website or not, ensure your WordPress site is backed up. In case anything goes wrong with your site, you can use your backup to restore your site back to normal.

With BlogVault, you get independent 1click staging options and reliable automated backups. Restoring your site is as easy as one click and it is guaranteed to work.

Backup and Stage Your WordPress Site With BlogVault!

 

wpengine staging

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