Create a WordPress Staging Site with Plesk: The Easiest Way

Developing and testing new themes, plugins, or website features can be daunting, especially when changing your live website. This is where a staging site comes into play. A staging site replicates your live website, allowing you to make and test changes in a safe and controlled environment before deploying them to your production site.

What is a Staging Site?

A staging site is a temporary copy of your live website that provides a sandbox environment for testing and development. It mirrors your live site’s functionality, allowing you to experiment with new designs, plugins, or code without affecting your website.

Benefits of Using a Staging Site

There are numerous benefits to utilizing a staging site for your WordPress development:

  • Safe Testing: Experiment with new themes, plugins, or code without compromising your live site’s stability or user experience.

  • Error Prevention: Identify and resolve issues before they reach your live site, minimizing downtime and potential disruptions.

  • Enhanced Collaboration: Share and review changes with team members in a controlled environment before deploying them to the live site.

Prerequisites for Creating a Staging Site

Before embarking on the process of creating a staging site, ensure you have the following prerequisites:

  • Plesk Control Panel Access: You’ll need access to the Plesk control panel, the administrative interface for managing your website hosting environment.

  • WordPress Installation: Your WordPress website must be installed and configured on your Plesk-managed server.

Create a WordPress Staging Site with Plesk The Easiest Way

Creating a WordPress Staging Site with Plesk

Plesk offers a straightforward and user-friendly method for creating a WordPress staging site. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Accessing the WordPress Toolkit

Image of Plesk control panel login screen

Create a WordPress Staging Site with Plesk: The Easiest Way
Plesk login screen
  1. Log in to your Plesk control panel. You can do this by typing your Plesk server’s URL and then /admin into your web browser. For example, if your Plesk server is at, you would type example.com/admin into your web browser.
  2. Enter your Plesk login credentials. Your username is typically the email address you used to create your Plesk account. Your password is the password you set for your Plesk account.

Image of Plesk “Websites & Domains” section

  1. In the left-hand sidebar, navigate to the “Websites & Domains” section. This section will list all the websites hosted on your Plesk server.
  2. Locate your WordPress website and click on the “Hosting Settings” option. This will open a page with settings for your WordPress website.

Image of Plesk “Hosting Settings” page

  1. Scroll down to the “WordPress Toolkit” section. This section will contain links to various tools for managing your WordPress website, including creating a staging site, updating WordPress, and installing plugins.

Step 2: Cloning the WordPress Installation

mage of Plesk “Clone” button

  1. Click on the “Clone” button next to the WordPress Toolkit entry. This will open a dialog box where you can configure the staging site.
  2. Select the subdomain for your staging site. By default, Plesk will create a subdomain with the prefix “staging” for your staging site. You can modify this subdomain name if desired.

Image of Plesk “Select subdomain” dialog box

  1. Click on the “Start” button to initiate the cloning process. Plesk will automatically copy the WordPress files, database, and configuration settings to the staging site, creating a replica of your live website.

Image of Plesk “Cloning progress” indicator

  1. Monitor the cloning progress indicator. Once complete, you can access your staging site by navigating to the corresponding subdomain URL.

Step 3: Configuring the Staging Site

Once the cloning process is complete, you can access the staging site by navigating to the corresponding subdomain URL. For example, if your live site’s URL is example.com, your staging site’s URL would be staging.example.com.

Image of WordPress dashboard login screen

  1. Log in to the WordPress dashboard using your existing credentials. These are the same credentials you use to log in to your live site.

Image of WordPress dashboard overview

  1. Verify that all website functionality is working properly. This includes checking that all pages are loading correctly, that all plugins and themes are functioning properly, and that there are no errors or issues.

You can start changing it once you have verified that the staging site is working properly. Once you are satisfied with your changes, you can deploy them to your live site.

Deploying Changes from Staging to Live Site

Once you’ve made and tested your changes on the staging site, you can seamlessly deploy those updates to your live website:

Step 1: Accessing the Deployment Manager

  1. In your Plesk control panel, navigate to the “Websites & Domains” section.

  2. Locate your WordPress website and click on the “Hosting Settings” option.

  3. Scroll down to the “WordPress Toolkit” section.

  4. Click the “Deployment Manager” button next to the WordPress Toolkit entry.

Step 2: Selecting the Staging Site

  1. In the Deployment Manager, select the staging site from which you want to deploy changes.

  2. Review the available deployment options, including:

  • Push: Replace the live site’s files and database with those from the staging site.

  • Pull Merges the staging site’s changes into the live site without overwriting existing files.

  • Custom: Enables selective synchronization of files and database tables.

  1. Choose the desired deployment option based on your needs.

Step 3: Deploying Changes to Live Site

  1. Click on the “Deploy” button to initiate the deployment process. Plesk will synchronize the selected files and database elements from the staging site to the live site.

  2. Monitor the deployment progress indicator. Once the process is complete, your live website will reflect the changes made on the staging site.

Tips for Successful Deployments

Successful deployments are crucial for organizations to reap the benefits of new software, technologies, or processes. To achieve successful deployments, it’s essential to follow a comprehensive approach that encompasses planning, preparation, execution, and monitoring. Here are some key tips to ensure successful deployments:

1. Define Clear Goals and Objectives

Before embarking on any deployment, clearly define the goals and objectives you aim to achieve. This will help you focus your efforts, measure progress, and evaluate the success of the deployment.

2. Thorough Planning and Preparation

Thorough planning is the foundation for successful deployments. This includes creating a detailed deployment plan, identifying resources, defining roles and responsibilities, and establishing communication channels.

3. Comprehensive Testing and Validation

Rigorous testing is essential to ensure the software or system is functioning as intended and free from critical defects. Employ various testing methods, including unit, integration, and system testing.

4. Effective Change Management

Deployments often involve changes to processes, workflows, or user interfaces. Implement a comprehensive change management strategy to minimize disruptions, address user concerns, and facilitate adoption.

5. User Training and Support

Provide adequate training to users on the new software, system, or process. Offer ongoing support to address questions, troubleshoot issues, and ensure a smooth transition.

6. Continuous Monitoring and Feedback

Continuously monitor the deployment to identify and address any issues promptly. Gather feedback from users to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.

7. Embrace Automation

Utilize automation tools to streamline deployment tasks, minimize manual intervention, and reduce the risk of errors. This can include automated testing, configuration management, and deployment processes.

8. Establish Rollback Procedures

Have a rollback plan in case of unexpected issues or unforeseen problems. This allows you to revert to a previous stable state and minimize downtime.

9. Communication and Transparency

Maintain open and transparent communication with all stakeholders throughout the deployment process. This helps manage expectations, address concerns, and foster a sense of ownership.

10. Continuous Learning and Improvement

After each deployment, conduct a thorough review to identify lessons learned, best practices, and areas for improvement. Use this knowledge to refine your deployment process for future projects.

Conclusion: The Advantages of Using Plesk for WordPress Staging

Plesk simplifies creating, managing, and deploying WordPress staging sites, providing a user-friendly interface and streamlined workflow. By leveraging Plesk’s staging capabilities, you can effectively develop and test website changes without compromising the integrity or stability of your live website.

WordPress Staging Site with Plesk FAQs 

Q: What is the difference between staging snd live sites

A: A staging site is a replica of your live website used for testing and development purposes, while a live site is the publicly accessible version of your website.

Q: Can I use Plesk to create a staging site for any WordPress installation?

A: Plesk can create staging sites for any WordPress installation managed within your control panel.

Q: How do I update my staging site with the latest WordPress version?

A: You can update your staging site’s WordPress version using the Plesk WordPress Toolkit, just like you would update your live site.

Q: What are some common issues that may arise when creating or deploying a staging site?

A: Common issues include file permission errors, database connection problems, and conflicts with existing plugins or themes.

Q: How can I troubleshoot common staging site issues?

A: Consult Plesk’s documentation and support resources for detailed troubleshooting guides. You can also seek assistance from Plesk’s technical support for common issues. With Plesk’s powerful staging features, you can streamline your WordPress development process, ensuring a seamless transition from testing to production and delivering a consistently optimized website experience for your users.

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