WordPress Staging: How to set up a test environment
A staging environment, also called a staging site, is basically a copy of your website that exists independently of your live site and cannot be viewed by visitors. It shares the same configurations, software, and hardware features with your live site, but is securely hosted in a separate area while you work on it. In this respect, a WordPress staging site is similar to a live site, but it serves an entirely different purpose. Staging sites are private and not open to the public. They are great for conducting experiments and running tests. Therefore, they are often referred to as "test environments" or "development sites".
Why is a staging website of such great importance?
Website staging is an indispensable feature in any high-quality hosting package, since it lets you make adjustments to your website without affecting your live site. This means that you'll be able to make changes without any interruptions, and thus continue engaging your readers or selling products without fearing downtime. Additionally, your SEO ranking will remain unaffected, since search engines won't index the staging version of your site.
There are other situations when a staging website can be extremely useful for your online project:
- If you want to redesign your website while the old website remains active to avoid downtime and interruptions.
- When installing new plugins or themes.
- In performing regular updates to your themes or plugins, including testing new features and functionality.
- For troubleshooting and testing solutions to problems that occur on your website.
Of course, you could also perform all these tasks directly on your live website. However, that carries certain risks. For example, if you're trying out a new plugin or testing bug fixes on your public website, you could affect functionality. This could result in temporary downtime, a slower website, or a compromised user experience. Not to mention the challenges that would arise if you completely redesigned your live site without a staging site.
Although there are various ways to set up and manage a staging environment manually, in this tutorial we will discuss a user-friendly and automated staging feature available through the Softaculous Apps installer and ORC Web Hosting's default deployment in cPanel when you purchase a hosting plan.
How do I use the WordPress staging feature from Softaculous?
Before we start with the step-by-step instructions on how to use this feature, it is important to note a few points:
- The staging feature is only available for selected applications, and Softaculous developers are constantly expanding this list.
- If you installed your website manually instead of Softaculous, you must first import it into Softaculous.
- This tutorial is based on WordPress as a sample application, and it is assumed that the Installing WordPress via Softaculous has taken place.
Step 1: Access the cPanel service of your web hosting account through your web browser or customer area.
If you have difficulties accessing the cPanel service, you can consult a tutorial on this topic: How do I log in to the cPanel?
Step 2: Go to the "Software" section and search for "Softaculous Apps Installer" and click on the "Softaculous" icon that appears.
Step 3: On the Softaculous Apps Installer page, click the purple "Installations" box.
Step 4: Find your WordPress installation and click the "Staging" button to the right of it. The staging page opens and shows the current installation details. You will also find a form where you can fill in the staging installation details.
Step 5: On the staging page, a new form opens for entering the staging details, which we break down here for a better overview:
- Select protocol: You have a choice between HTTP and HTTPS. If you want to use an SSL certificate for your website, select HTTPS. If you want to run the website without an SSL certificate, select HTTP.
- Select domain: Here you can use the drop-down menu to select the domain name for which you want to create the staging environment.
- Set directory: In this section, you enter the name of your staging area. This appears to the right of your domain name, e.g. www.website.com/staging, if you specify "staging" in the directory field.
- Database name: Enter the name of the database to create for the staging installation. This name must be different from that of your original website. Usually, the field is already pre-filled. We recommend to accept the suggested setting.
- Disable visibility for search engines: If you enable this option, you prevent search engines from indexing the website. It is up to search engines to decide whether to honor this request. This setting is recommended for staging environments.
- Enter site name: In this field, enter the name of your new website. If you want to use the same site name as for the original website, leave this field blank. This is a recommended setting for a WordPress staging website.
Step 6: Just press the "Create Staging" button and it should now create the WordPress staging. The time required may vary depending on the size of your installation. Please be patient for a little while.
There you have it! You have successfully created a staging environment for your WordPress website.
Our Support Team is at your disposal to assist you with your concerns. Whether you have questions about creating a staging environment or need assistance with other web hosting issues, we are here to help. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We are just a message away to help you out!