Learn how to clone and stage your WordPress website without breaking a sweat, using our simple guide that teaches you everything you need to know.
How to Clone/Stage Your Website
- Down the Duplicator plugin for WordPress.
- Use it to download your site’s package/installer.
- Upload those files into your site’s server.
- Create a new database for the site in cPanel.
- Run the package/database installer.
- Delete the temporary files in the plugin page.
WordPress is one of the most highly regarded platforms for many reasons. Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe use WordPress every day. It’s simply because WordPress offers unmatched customizability, control, accessibility, pricing, and reliability. It allows you to create a high-quality website with very little trouble.
One of the most important things they offer is a high degree of control that you don’t see anywhere else. The sheer number of options and features WordPress lets you customize can be overwhelming. In a lot of cases, this level of control can be a bad thing. Many beginners overlook aspects of their site when they get overwhelmed.
One of the most intimidating things for beginners is cloning and staging a website. Every WordPress user should learn to clone and stage their website. If you can clone and stage your website, then you will have a safe backup of your website and a testing ground to try new things. These two things can save an enormous amount of time and money.
Cloning and staging is a vital process because it gives you a replica of your website to use. This replica site can come in handy when you are installing big updates, making substantial changes, and testing out new features. A replica is also necessary when migrating your website to a new hosting provider or domain name. There are also countless other reasons you may need to clone and stage your site.
Although it may seem difficult, it is actually much easier than you think. With our simple guide, you quickly learn how to clone and stage your website. This guide will follow the basics and every step of the process. It does not matter if you are a WordPress beginner or expert because this guide will cover everything you need to know.
Why You Should Clone and Stage
First, I will go over what exactly it means to clone and stage your website. I will also cover why you would need to clone and stage your website. These basics will show you how crucial cloning and stage can be when using WordPress. You should also know these because there are situations where you don’t need to clone and stage your site.
Cloning your website is exactly what it sounds what it says. When you clone your website, you create a carbon copy of it that you can use. Staging your website is similar, but it serves a specific purpose. When you stage your website, you create a copy of it called a “staging site”. This staging website is a testing site that can be used for anything.
Cloning your website is crucial because it provides you with a clean backup of your website. It also can be used when migrating your website between domain names and hosting providers. It is also vital when you are creating a subdomain or extension of your website. It could also be useful to have a copy of your website downloaded.
A staging website is necessary for countless purposes and reasons. Updating WordPress, plugins, your theme, or other things can be risky, so people use staging sites. They are also perfect for experimenting with new ideas, plugins, themes, and tools. If you want to start A/B testing for conversion rate, then you will need a staging site.
These are the most common reasons for needing to clone and stage your website, but there are several others. Now that I have covered the very basics of cloning and staging, we can start the process. However, I will cover some precautions and requirements you need before you can start. In the next section, I will have everything you need to have before you can begin.
Before you start the process of cloning and staging your website, you should follow these preparations. Firstly, if you are making substantial changes to your website, you should always backup your WordPress website. A backup will give you a checkpoint to come back to if you mess anything up. I highly recommend that you backup your website.
Next, you will need an FTP client if you want to clone and stage your website. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Clients are tools that allow you to transfer files between your local computer and website. They are necessary for downloading and uploading your website’s files. The best FTP client that you can use for free is FileZilla.
Lastly, you will need to be able to login into your hosting account and cPanel. These accounts have crucial tools and settings that we need to access to clone and stage your site. They are needed for this entire process, so you should find your logins for them. You should also use them to contact your hosting provider if something goes wrong.
Once you have followed these requirements and precautions, you can proceed to the first part of the process. In the next section, I will explain how to clone your website by using a plugin. All you need to clone your page is one plugin and five easy-to-follow steps. After following the steps, you will have a cloned website.
How To Clone Your Website
To clone your website you must first download a plugin called Duplicator. This plugin is necessary for creating your cloned website and makes the process very simple. All you have to do is download and install the plugin, then just follow our five simple steps. Once you have the plugin activated, proceed with the following steps.
Step 1 – Download Your Website’s Package & Installer
- Go to your WordPress dashboard.
- Find and open the Duplicator plugin page.
- Click on Create New above the Packages section.
- Add a name for the package and click Next.
- The Duplicator may now display some warnings.
(A few of the warnings are common, so you should ignore them. However, if there are serious warnings or several warnings displayed, you should try to fix them or contact your hosting provider.)
- After checking the warnings, check the box with “Yes, Continue with the Build Process”.
- Then click on the Build button and let the plugin clone your site.
- Once it is finished, this page should appear:
- Now you need to download the package and the installer.
Step 2 – Uploading Your Clone Package & Installer
Once you have downloaded and saved the two files onto your computer, you can proceed to the next step of cloning your website. For the next step, you need to open your FTP and connect it to your clone’s server. Then open your FTP client and follow the steps below:
- Open your FTP client and find your files.
- Find the root directory folder of your server.
- (This is usually called www or public_html. If you are using a server hosted locally, you must create a subfolder inside the root.)
- Upload both of the files into the folder.
- They should appear like this:
Step 3 – Creating a Database
The next step is creating a database for your new WordPress website. Every WordPress website requires a database to function properly. Databases store vital metadata, tables, information, and files that your website needs. To create a database for your clone website, you need to start by opening your cPanel dashboard and follow these steps:
- Open your cPanel dashboard.
- Find MySQL Databases in the Database section.
- Find the Create New Database section.
- Pick a name for your database and click Create Database.
- Scroll down and find the Users section.
- Select Add User, then pick a username and password.
- Find Add User to Database, then select it.
- Add the user name and database name, then add the user.
- Make sure to check the box saying All Privileges.
In the next section, we will install the website package and database for your website. You should also save the username, password, and database name later because you will need them for installation.
Step 4 – Install the Package & Database
In this section, we will install the package and database for your website. After this step, your website will be ready to run and view. You should test your website thoroughly after the installation to look for bugs and issues. Follow these steps for the installation process:
- Open your web browser and insert this link: http://www.example.com/installer.php
- Replace “example.com” with your website’s domain name.
- Open the link, and the installer page should appear.
- The installer will check for any issues and display them.
- (If there are any problems with the files, you should try to download them again.)
- Once there are no issues, accept the terms and notices.
- Then proceed by click on Next.
- In the second screen, input all of your database information.
- Make sure to use Test Database to see if everything works.
- Then click on Next, and the third page should appear.
- Fill in the URL data for your website and click on Next.
Unless an error occurred, your installation is completed.
Now that you have finished the last step of this list, you are almost done with cloning your website. In the next section, we will complete the final step for creating a clone of your website. This step will include deleting your temporary files and testing your website.
Step 5 – Deleting Temporary Files & Testing Your Website
Once you have finished the installation process from the last step, your website should be ready. In this step, we will delete the temporary files because now they are useless. After removing them, you should thoroughly test your website to make sure everything works. You should access pages, check plugins, and check settings on your website to check that everything works properly.
Here are the steps for deleting temporary files:
- Open your WordPress dashboard.
- Find Tools under the Duplicator page in the sidebar.
- Then click on Remove Installation Files.
How to Stage Your Website
The process for creating a staging website is almost the same as creating a clone website. For the most part, you will be following the same steps as the previous section, except for some key changes. However, you should know that host providers have stage website services, see your hosting plan for this.
If you want a good web host that provides staging services, you should use Host Armada. You can also use a staging plugin like WP Stagecoach to create a staging website. If you are creating your stage website manually, you will need to download and activate the Duplicator plugin. After doing so, you should create a subdomain by following these steps:
- Open your cPanel dashboard.
- Go to the Domains section and select Subdomains.
- Pick a name and use it for the subdomain and folder name.
- Then click the Create button.
- Remember the name of your subdomain and its folder.
Once you have Duplicator and a subdomain, follow the steps for cloning your website, but with these changes. For the FTP server, use the folder you made earlier. As for the installer, use this link instead:
Replace the “subdomain” with your new subdomain name and “example.com” with your website’s domain name. Then for the installation process, you should use the subdomain URL and folder names you created earlier. Finally, you can use the Admin Login button to enter your staging website’s admin dashboard. Lastly, we will add password protection to your new subdomain. Follow these steps:
- Open your cPanel dashboard.
- Find and open Directory Privacy.
- Then select your subdomain’s folder.
- Click on “Password protect this directory”.
- Create names and passwords to fill out the fields.
- Then click on Save and exit the page.
Now that you have finished these simple steps, you have a staging website ready to be used. You can open, view, edit, and tweak your new staging website to your heart’s content. It is also password-protected, so that only you can access the files and data. I hope you found this guide useful for learning how to clone and stage your site.
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