How to use Managed WordPress Staging

Staging is a test environment available with WHC's Managed WordPress Hosting. It's a great tool to help you test changes or updates of your website in a private, secure environment before trying them on your Live website.

Staging is currently only available with Managed WordPress Hosting. The instructions below don't apply to WordPress websites using regular web hosting plans.

How to activate Managed WordPress staging

  1. In the WHC Client Area click on your WordPress service
  2. Click on the Staging button in the upper right corner
  3. Click Create Staging Site

Your Live environment will now be copied into Staging. Depending on the size of your website, this process can take from a few seconds to several minutes. We'll send you an email as soon as the process is done or, if you prefer, you can wait on the status page and be notified as soon as it's ready.

How to use WordPress Staging

Once the staging environment has been created, click on Staging to access your Staging dashboard.

The Staging dashboard contains the following elements:

  • Staging URL: this is the address of your Staging website, used to easily test your website.
  • Admin Staging: 1-click access to your WordPress Admin in your staging environment. You'll know you're in Staging rather than Live by the orange color of the menu, once in.
  • Comparative table: displays a quick snapshot of your two environments, including: WordPress core versions, plugins, themes and PHP versions.
  • SFTP & SSH Access: these are methods to securely modify your changes in Staging before deploying them to Prod. Note that Staging credentials will be different from your Live credentials.
  • Auto Updates: toggle on to enable automatic minor core WordPress version updates.
  • Private Mode: toggle on to hide your Staging website from public view. You'll still be able to view your WordPress site if you're logged in as a WordPress admin.

From Staging, you'll be able to easily make all the same changes you'd make in Live, test them using your private Staging URL, then copy your changes to Live by performing a synchronization.

How to Synchronize your Staging and Prod Environments

Once you've made your changes and tested them in Staging, you're ready to synchronize your environments.

A synchronization is a process that copies your changes from your test environment into your live environment, or vice versa.
When you perform a synchronization, you risk accidentally overwriting changes that were made on your target environment, especially if your website is dynamic and is changed by your visitors (as is the case, for example, with e-commerce websites accepting orders). Proceed with caution!

Choose the direction of your synchronization:

  • Push Staging to Live: Click this button to deploy the changes made in the staging environment to your live environment.
  • Copy Live to Staging: Click this to (pull) update your test environment with the most current version of your live content.

When pushing staging to live or copying live to staging, you will be provided with 3 options:

  • Everything will copy files, folders and database. This will be the most common option for most users.
  • Files Only will copy files and folders, but not the database. This is a useful option if, for example, you’ve made some style changes to your themes but don’t want to override recent activity on your Live website.
  • Database Only will copy the database, but not the files. This is the least common option but can be useful if, for example, you’ve modified files on your Live environment and only wish to push a change you’ve made on one of your Posts.

Once you have chosen one of the three options click Start Sync. A warning box will appear asking if you wish to proceed. Click Yes to perform the action.

Careful! Depending on the options selected, a synchronization can overwrite any modification made in your target environment since your last sync. 

You can consult the sync history by clicking on the last sync date.

You can delete your staging environment by clicking on the button Delete Staging.

In case of problems with your database during a deployment to Live, you'll find an automated database backup in the /wp_deploy_backups folder on your Live account. You may use it to restore your database. For automated or file restores, consult our restore website article.

Staging System Known Limitations

As of now, WHC's staging system doesn't support:

  • .htaccess folder protection (use the Private mode instead)
  • WordPress Multi-Site (MU) or Multi-network
  • Aliases or addon domains
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