The 5 Best WordPress Staging Plugins

The Best WordPress Staging Plugins  - Hero Image

WordPress Staging Plugins are a popular combination with backup plugins, but what are they, and do you need them? If you are looking to update your website, create a new look for your page, or are starting a completely new site and unsure of how to move forward, creating a staging site is always a great place to begin.

One of the most dangerous things that you can do when trying to update your website is to go in blindly and make changes without being sure they are going to work.

A staging environment is a clone of your live site that allows you to make changes to your site in a separate installation so that your public website and content are untouched. This assures that if a plugin update goes wrong and there is a critical WordPress error, you can troubleshoot it with the ease of mind that your users will not be able to see this.

If you make edits on the live website, your visitors may experience those changes, leaving your visitors to question whether they should trust your site or not. But with a staging site, you can set up exactly what you want, test the changes to make sure they work, and then push them out to your actual website.

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What is a Staging Website?

Before we get started, let’s talk about staging websites in general. A staging website is an exact copy of your website that cannot be seen by the general public on the Internet. This allows you to be able to make changes to the site while your original website is still live and unchanged.

You can experiment with new styles, layouts, themes, and plugins without wondering if they will break your existing site. Once you get everything looking just the way you like it and running perfectly, you can then update your website to the new version.

How to Choose a WordPress Staging Plugin

Many web hosting services will offer you built-in staging sites that you can access, but that isn’t the only option. Using a staging WordPress plugin is another safe choice for your site.

The main thing to look out for in plugins is the last time it was updated by the developer, as you will want to ensure it is compatible with your WordPress version. If you are using a staging plugin to update a site that is not up to the latest version of WordPress or PHP, we recommend creating a subdomain staging environment as this will not create issues with the parent’s site PHP version.

Another important aspect will be user satisfaction and usability. A good plugin will be user-friendly and support the issues that come up. Looking at the number of active installations and reviews on WordPress.org will help narrow the search down.

Finally, one thing to keep in mind is researching to ensure the plugin has not had more than one security vulnerability reported in the last 12 months of your search. And that the vulnerability was patched by the plugin developer quickly.

The Best WordPress Staging Plugins

Total Upkeep

TotalUpkeep WordPress Plugin

Total Upkeep is a powerful all-in-one manager for your WordPress site. TotalUpkeep is a plugin by BoldGrid which allows you to create backups of your website. These backups can then be used for manually creating a staging site. The plugin will need to be installed on your staging domain to restore the backup from the dashboard; however, you will have an identical copy of your main site after installation and restoration.

If you already have a WordPress installation ready on the new staging destination, and depending on the size of your site, the cloning of your site only takes a matter of minutes.

Why choose this plugin?

  • Over 100k active installations in WordPress
  • Tested up to WordPress version 6.0.2
  • One-click Staging installation
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars rating per WordPress.org

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus WordPress Plugin

UpdraftPlus is a plugin that also mainly serves as a backup solution. It allows you to create a staging site on their servers, purchase of UpdraftTokens is needed for this option. However, these tokens are cheaper than UpdraftPlus Premium, giving you the choice to buy them on a subscription or one-time basis.

The backup features allow you to create a backup and restore on a new WordPress installation (a manual clone), though you can purchase their UpdraftMigrator, which allows you the ability to migrate or clone your site within your server rather than UpdraftPlus.

Why choose this plugin?

  • Over 3M active installations in WordPress
  • Tested up to WordPress version 6.0.2
  • One-click Staging installation
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars rating per WordPress.org

WP Staging

WP Staging WordPress Plugin

WP Staging is one of the most popular WordPress staging plugins. It clones your site within seconds (although this might vary depending on the size of your website and types of files), and once done, it will let you login into your staging copy. The main difference between the staging and parent sites is a bright orange settings bar at the top of your dashboard rather than the classic gray one.

WP Staging has a Pro License, which can be purchased for extra capabilities, such as a one-click push to live from staging, backup, and restoration services.

Why choose this plugin?

  • Over 60k active installations in WordPress
  • Tested up to WordPress version 6.3
  • One-click Staging installation (and removal)
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars rating per WordPress.org
  • Backup capabilities (Pro Version)

WPVivid

WPVivid Backup Plugin

WPVivid Backup Plugin does more than just backups. It has premium features, but most of the plugin’s core aspects are free. The interface is easy to read and has the needed settings to set up a testing site of your domain under a different subfolder with other features such as creating a new database user and prefix for sharing the same database as your installation has or using a completely new database on your server.

WPvivid also has the choice to set up your staging under a subdomain (i.e. staging.yourdomain.com) from within your current WordPress dashboard, making the process easier than manually cloning your website. 

Why choose this plugin?

  • Over 100k active installations in WordPress
  • Tested up to WordPress version 5.9.3
  • One-click Staging installation
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars rating per WordPress.org

All-in-One WP Migration

All-in-One WP Migration WordPress Plugin

All-in-One WP Migration is mainly a plugin used for migrating sites between servers; however, it can be used as a staging plugin by downloading a backup created with their plugin and restoring it on a new directory, such as a subdomain or an addon domain, where WordPress is already installed. The plugin allows you to send backups to other servers or download them directly from your WordPress Dashboard.

Certain aspects of the plugin require extensions from ServMask, these include using services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc, to store backups. However, you can still download the files locally and restore them with the plugin on a different installation for a manual staging clone.

Why choose this plugin?

  • Over 5M active installations in WordPress
  • Tested up to WordPress version 6.0.2
  • Migration for Manual Staging
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars rating per WordPress.org

Final Thoughts

Using a WordPress Staging Plugin before making changes to your live site is a great way to try out new plugins and themes on your website without running the risk of anything going wrong. As backup plugins are a popular combination with staging plugins, we recommend looking for a good backup plugin that fits your website needs.

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