How to make your WordPress staging site live


This guide will show you how to make the changes on your staging or development environment live. We’ll be referring to a WordPress site in this guide, however the same steps can be followed for any web app in our 1-click utility.

Tip: If you haven’t already created your staging or development site, you probably want to learn how to create a staging copy of your site first.

We’ll refer to it as a staging site in this article, so if you called your staging site dev, development or testing or something else entirely, be sure to swap staging for whatever you called it.

These steps use our specialized software configuration which makes use of Plesk control panel and Installatron (1-click web apps) for easy web application management. If you are not hosted with us, but your web host uses these tools as well, then this guide will work great for you too.

Want to be able to sync your staging site to live with a single click?

There are a few methods for syncing your data between staging and the live site:

  • Fully Automated sync: useful for less dynamic sites and it’s totally automatic!
  • Selective Copy: useful for highly dynamic sites, but it’s a manual process
  • Delete and Clone: works similarly to the fully automated sync. Good fallback option in case auto sync isn’t working for you.

Option A: Fully automatic sync

The sync option in 1-click web apps will overwrite the live website with the staging site, so be sure that the staging site is exactly how you’d like the live site to look, content included.

If new posts of any kind (posts, pages, orders, menu items) have been added to the live site since the staging site was created, that content will be erased and overwritten by the content from the staging site therefore you will need to update the staging site with the new content on the live site before syncing staging over to live.

How to update the staging site with new content from live

Once your staging site is 100% ready to be made live, with all content updated and ready to go, follow these steps to sync your site from staging to live, overwriting the live site:

  • Login to Plesk then select the 1-click web apps (or Installatron) button to be taken to your list of installed applications.
  • Find your live site in the list and click first on the wrench icon, and then on the sync icon with the two arrows in a circle. (If you do not see the sync icon, check the troubleshooting section below for details on how to fix this).
Sync Redux
1-click web apps sync button

On this next screen you’ll see a list of files and a list of database tables. You can deselect those files and tables that you do not want to overwrite on the live site.

If, since the date you created the staging site, you or your site’s users have not altered or added any content on the live site (posts, pages, comments, WooCommerce orders, etc), simply leave everything checked and proceed with the sync to make your staging site live.

How to make your WordPress staging site live

Excluding content during sync

Then at the bottom of the screen you should leave the option to make a backup before syncing enabled, and finally click the Sync button.

How to make your WordPress staging site live

And you’re done! If there’s any issue with the live site after the sync, you can always head to the Backups tab and restore the backup that was completed just prior to the sync.

That’s it! See Next Steps below for optional final changes

Option B: Selective Copy

If you have a WooCommerce store, or membership site with new data being created daily, it may be tricky to identify the individual content pieces that have changed. In such cases a manual copy of changes made to the staging site over to live may be preferred, rather than using the sync tool to do it all at once. Here’s a couple helpful tips on this:

That’s it! See Next Steps below for optional final changes

Option C: Remove live, then clone staging to live domain

This is an older method that we used prior to the introduction of the sync tool, but it can still be used if you prefer it, or if the sync tool isn’t working for you.

  1. Login to Plesk then select the 1-click web apps (or Installatron) button to be taken to your list of installed applications.
  2. For your live site, click the curved arrow button to complete a backup then choose the X button to remove the live app.
  3. Find your staging application install in the list of web apps
  4. Clone your staging app using the button with the two side-by-side arrows pointing down. More details on this process here. Your destination for the clone will be the live domain as we are copying the site from staging to the live URL.

That’s it! See Next Steps below for optional final changes

Tip: if you get an error like “! An instance of wordpress already exists in this directory”: this means you didn’t remove the app (ie: you need to complete step 2).

Next Steps, Tips, and Troubleshooting

Below you’ll find some recommended next steps to complete to ensure your changes show correctly on the live site.

Clear Caches

Staging Site Lock-Down / Removal

SEO TIP: If permalinks/page URLs have changed on the staging site

Can’t find the sync button in 1-click web apps?

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Jordan Schelew

Jordan has been working with computers, security, and network systems since the 90s and is a managing partner at Websavers Inc. As a founder of the company, he's been in the web tech space for over 15 years.

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