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Patty was certain that the new plugin update would go smoothly. She skipped backing up first and just clicked update as she normally did any other day. The screen flickered then flashed and boom! Her site wouldn’t load. She couldn’t login, she couldn’t undo. YIKES!
Have you done the same as Patty, just click update without a care in the World as most updates do install fast and easy with no issues. But every once in awhile an update or change will wreck havoc on your WordPress site.
If you want to be prepared, you need to protect your site, it’s an important asset after all. Before making any changes on your site, make the change in the staging site first. Confirm that it works with your site in this test/dev environment, then before you apply the same change live, take a backup (Instructions here).
I have not personally “Pushed to Live” from my staging site to my Production site, because I often make changes and test different things on my staging site to help answer other bloggers technical questions.
So for me, I use the staging site to make the changes, confirm that my site looks and responds alright to the change (no broken parts), then make the same change on my live site. Always making sure to backup first. Even if your host takes regular backups of your site, I still recommend that you take your own backup and save to an offsite location like Google Docs or Drop Box etc.
How to setup a Staging Site for WordPress
These steps are from Siteground.
- Login to the Siteground User’s Area Siteground.com
- Click on My Accounts, then click the red Go to cPanel button
- Scroll down to the WordPress Tools section and click on the Staging button
- Click on Create Staging Copy
- I leave these as unchecked at default values
- You can set a password for accessing the staging site (optional), make sure to copy the username and password to a safe place if you do set them.
- From this screen you can open our Test/Staging Site, click Go to Admin View
- CAUTION:Do not click push to live, unless you want the Staging site to replace your live site.
- To view your staging site, go to staging
SiteGround does take a backup before it pushes over to live, but this could mean down time if you unintentionally select to push to live.
Make sure to check your changes for your site on desktop and mobile
WP Staging Plugin
For those whose host does not provide a Staging feature, there is the pluging WP Staging which will create a staging environment for you.
Another option if you are on Bluehost it is easy to create a subdomain site to use for testing from their cPanel. You can keep the one site and use as needed or delete it and create another one later. Just be VERY careful if you delete it, to only delete the test sub domain and not your LIVE site.
Related: Why we left Bluehost for SiteGround