Do you want to stage your WordPress website but can’t find the tool? Know that you can create a staging environment manually, but the procedure can be long and unnecessarily complicated. Thus, we will provide two solutions that can easily do the job. Before that happens, we must go over the term, what it entails, and why it’s useful to so many users worldwide. To pique your interest, we will say that the tool facilitates a safe environment for testing changes to your live website. It does so without it going public or getting indexed. With that, let’s answer the question, “what is the WordPress staging tool?”
Explanation of WordPress staging environment or tool
A staging website represents a duplicate of a live website, hosted separately, that lets you make changes without them affecting your live website. That permits users to test code they came up with, try or modify a WordPress theme or plugin, and scan for potential errors and conflicts. They may also alter site content (think archiving, restructuring, or rebranding), update WordPress, plugins, or themes, add, edit, remove user roles, and more. All that is possible without the danger of the live site going offline, resulting in negative consequences on reputation, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and visitors’ loyalty.
Consequently, a WordPress staging tool facilitates the creation of a staging environment, i.e., staging a website. Though not necessarily a “tool”, the first iteration included users creating a subdomain or buying a separate domain. They would then copy their website to that hosting space, and ensure only the live one remains public. That works but is very time-consuming, not beginner-friendly, and you must manually repeat all the changes you made to the staging website. Therefore, two new ways came to the forefront in recent years:
1. Utilize a staging WordPress plugin
This used to be the go-to. A plugin would do all the work of duplicating files, keeping them separate, and letting you access that version separately. Additionally, it would ensure that you could apply some changes from the staging to the live website in a few clicks. You may not have to pay for the plugin, but the feature may cost you today. Additionally, you may have to get extra storage space and learn about migration and duplication to use it confidently and safely.
2. Employ the cPanel tool for staging
Adding a staging tool to a cPanel (or a custom version web hosting providers offer) is a recent convenience. It does the same as a plugin but works on all websites on your account, giving you a repository of staging websites you can open and close. The cPanel staging tool for sites usually doesn’t cost extra, though there may be a minimum hosting payment plan for its use. Finally, the tool is more extensive in applying modifications from staging to live site. It has greater access and went through better development.
Why users should use a staging website over a local copy
We know the case of a local copy would come up. After all, users could install WordPress locally, on their computer for years. That lets them test changes offline, without the dangers of accidental application before replicating them on the website. While equally risk-free and helps website owners catch crashing, PHP errors, conflicts, incompatibility, and other problems, it has two difficulties.
First, it is hard to predict whether what works in a local environment would be problem-free in a server one. Second, users would have to memorize all modifications and apply them manually to the live website one by one. The risk of an error during that process is high, making it hard to see the result until you finish copying. Additionally, users would have to bring the site offline or activate Maintenance Mode. Moreover, doing all this without a plugin or a cPanel tool requires advanced knowledge and plenty of time. Therefore, using the same server configuration as the live website is much easier, safer, and more consistent.
Using the WordPress staging tool to create a website clone
After explaining what the staging tool does, we will demonstrate how it works. Here are two methods to set up a WordPress staging site:
1. Use a cPanel staging tool to generate an independent site environment
Many web hosting providers, including Bluehost, SiteGround, Hostinger, Kinsta, HostPapa, and WP Engine, offer a staging tool in their cPanel. Most have a custom version, making it hard to demonstrate the procedure for users with a regular cPanel. Because SiteGround uses a slightly modified version, we’ll use it. Let’s begin.
- Sign in to the user dashboard on the SiteGround website.
- Find the “WordPress TOOLS” section and click the Staging option.
- Make sure Display is set to “WordPress sites only”.
- Click on Add WordPress in the top right corner.
- Enter the URL of your website. If you installed it in a subfolder (example.com/wordpress), enter “wordpress” in the second text field after “/”.
- Click the Add URL button. After a brief search, the staging tool recognizes your site and adds it under “Websites”. Click the Create Staging Copy button.
- Configure a password to prevent others from accessing the staging copy and search engines from indexing your site.
- After providing a username and password combination, click Continue.
- You can access the clone by clicking the Manage Staging Copies button next to the website name. You now have options such as Destroy, Replicate, Manage, Admin Panel, and, most importantly, Push to Live (transfer changes from staging site to live site).
2. Create a staging environment via a WordPress plugin
There are plenty of free and paid options among staging plugins. However, in our unbiased and unaffiliated opinion, WP Stagecoach is a newbie-friendly option with a reasonable free trial and affordable pricing. It also claims to be the only one that never overwrites your database (it merges it) during the push to live. It works like this:
- Install the staging plugin from a ZIP archive, then activate it.
- Click the WP Stagecoach option in WordPress Admin Bar.
- Enter the username you picked when registering for WP Stagecoach, as well as the unique API (Application Programming Interface) key in your Stagecoach account dashboard.
- Now, under “Create a staging site:” enter the subdomain URL, such as
- Put a checkmark in front of Password protect the staging site.
- Click the Ride the Stagecoach! button. The plugin does everything else.
- After the process finishes, you can access options like those in step 9 above. Push to Live is located in WP Stagecoach → Import Changes → Click the Import button after selecting which.