WordPress staging? Everyone seems to be talking about the need of having a WordPress staging site. But it’s easy to get lost in a plethora of options when it comes to choosing the right staging solution. In this article, we will talk about top WordPress staging plugins.
For those who are new to staging, a WordPress staging plugin allows you to create a replica environment of your website to run tests and try new things! On a staging site, you can meddle with anything, make all kinds of changes, and whatnot, without affecting your live WordPress website.
Because finding the right staging solution can be a hard task, we’ve researched the options available in the market and done the homework for you. Based on various parameters that we feel a staging solution should cover, we’ve narrowed it down to the top five.
But before we go onto revealing our top choices, let’s get acquainted with the basics first.
If you’re looking for a staging solution for your WordPress site, BlogVault offers a one-click staging site in under a few minutes. Install the plugin and you automatically get access to creating unlimited staging sites.
What is Staging and Why You Need It?
If you’ve had a WordPress site for long enough, you would know that making changes doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. Once you make the change and publish it, you might see errors on your site.
If a plugin you installed was incompatible with your version of WordPress, it can break your site. When you decide to change your theme, you simply cannot do it without disrupting your website and breaking the layout.
Sometimes, you may just want to change the design and images on your home page and try out different ones. Even if it doesn’t throw up an error, you would not want visitors to see your experiments.
This is where WordPress staging sites are useful. It is a clone of your website where you can pretty much do whatever you want and none of it will affect your live site.
So while everything looks normal to your visitors and business can carry on as usual, you have a replica playground to test changes and try new things.
Things you can do with a staging environment
- Improve your website by trying new themes, layouts, images, content, etc. This allows you to check out different options for your website.
- Test WordPress updates – We know updates don’t always run smoothly and can render elements of your website incompatible. It’s best to test out the update on a staging site and once you know everything has worked out fine, then you can update your live site. (Recommended read: How to Safely Update your WordPress Site)
- Try new plugins – Sometimes plugins are not compatible with the version of WordPress you’re using. This can lead to errors on your website. Installing them on a staging site first and checking out its functionality is the best way forward.
- Test out your backup copy – Sometimes backup copies don’t work, in the sense that they cannot be restored and display errors like a white screen instead. To check if it works, you can use a staging site to restore your backup. This also enables you to learn how to restore a backup so that you’ll be better prepared when you actually have to do it on your live site.
A staging site enables you to minimize downtime or eliminate it altogether. You can prevent serious risks of making changes like crashes, malfunctions and broken pages.
Now, at MalCare, we understand the difficulties in choosing the right staging solution. To make things easier, we’ve analyzed what you need in a staging solution.
Must-have features in a staging plugin
When choosing a staging solution, you need to look out for the following factors:
- Ease of use – It should be easy to install and use. Your staging site should take no longer than a few minutes to create.
- Quick process – No doubt, when we run WordPress sites, we don’t have all day. A staging plugin should be quick to install and quick to create the site.
- Security – Your staging site needs to be protected against hackers just like your live website. A good staging solution will provide you with options like password protection, SSL encryption and should be stored on a secure server.
- Reasonably priced – A staging site should be affordable. An expensive solution can deter site owners from using a staging site.
- Merge options – Lastly, and most importantly, you should have the option to merge your changes on the staging site to your live site. When we use a testing environment, we may make tons of changes and replicating them again on the live sites can be tedious. There are staging solutions that allow you to push the changes onto your live site.
- Smart staging – When you create a staging site, it duplicates your content. This can confuse search engines and flag it as plagiarism. A good plugin or solution will automatically hide the website from search engine bots so that it does not get crawled and indexed. It should also do the job of blocking emails and contacts to and from customers.
- Offsite staging – Staging a website on your own server will use up resources fast. This will slow down your website. If you exceed the resources dedicated to your website, you could also risk getting suspended by your web hosting company. This is why offsite staging is absolutely necessary.
Note: You can stage a site through a web host or manually. But these methods can be expensive, time-consuming and complex. (Recommended Read: How To Create a Staging Site for WordPress Websites?) This is why we recommend using a WordPress staging plugin.
Top 5 WordPress Staging Plugins
Based on the list above, we’ve selected the following WordPress Staging Plugins:
BlogVault is primarily a premium backup plugin that offers the easiest way to stage a site. Because it already takes backups of your site regularly, all it takes to stage a website is one click.
When you install the plugin, you get access to its backup features along with free staging and WordPress security. No longer do you need three separate plugins to get these features. BlogVault gives you access to all of it from a centralized dashboard.
What you get
- Quick and easy WordPress staging website creation
- Password-protected staging site
- Hosted on BlogVault’s secure server
- Option to merge all or selected changes to live site
- Dedicated 24×7 customer support
- Support for large sites, multiple sites and WordPress multisites
- Usable with all WordPress hosting companies.
When you use BlogVault’s staging solution, you needn’t worry about the security of your staging site and storage costs, as it’s all taken care of for you.
Backup plans with free staging start at $7.4 per month (billed on an annual basis).
2. WP Staging
Next on our list is WP Staging that enables you to clone your WordPress site. It also offers one-click staging with the option to push changes to the live site.
WP Staging allows developers to mirror an update across multiple websites. This is particularly handy for agencies and developers who handle a portfolio of WordPress websites.
They claim that the cloning process will not slow down your site as it is optimized for performance. However, your staging site will reside on your own website’s server. This means it will use your own server’s resources and could overload your server if you are using a shared hosting plan or have very limited resources.
What you get
- Fast cloning process
- Support for large websites and multisites
- Copy database and file from staging to live (with the option to exclude the ones you don’t want)
- Only authenticated users can access it
- Data isn’t shared with any third-party
You can clone one WordPress site for free. Paid plans begin at $89 per year.
3. Backup Buddy
Similar to BlogVault, Backup Buddy is a backup solution that also offers a staging feature. The plugin enables you to create a staging site using its deployment feature. You can push and pull changes back and forth between your live site and staging site.
You can use the plugin to make changes to your site’s database, media files, plugins, and its active theme.
The staging feature is more advanced and may be more suitable for developers.
What you get
- Test changes on a separate environment
- Push and pull changes with two clicks
- Automatic migration of URLs and paths
- Supports large files and slow servers
- Minimizes downtime
Backup Buddy Plans start at $52 per year.
4. WP StageCoach
WP Stagecoach offers a one-click setup and deployment staging solution. It also allows you to merge your database changes instead of overwriting them. This ensures you don’t lose fresh content updates or data while you troubleshoot.
The staging site is created and stored offsite which reduces the load on your server. You won’t have to worry about using up your website’s server resources.
What you get
- One-click set up
- Password-protected staging site
- Offsite storage that will save your server resources
- Responsive customer support
- Option to selectively merge files or database
- Compatible with all hosts
Starts at $12 per month. WP StageCoach offers a 100% moneyback guarantee if you’re not happy with their product.
Said to be easy, fast and powerful, Duplicator is primarily a Migration and Backup plugin for WordPress. However, it can also be used for staging purposes.
Duplicator can be used while setting up staging sites for WordPress manually by creating a subdomain. You can copy your site’s settings and content to a staging site.
The reason we’ve listed this plugin at number 5 is that it requires an ample amount of technical knowledge to use. It’s not designed for WordPress beginners or anyone who doesn’t know to code.
So once you download and install it, you may find it complex to navigate and use. But it’s a good option for developers.
What you get
- Support for larger sites and databases
- Connect to cPanel directly from the plugin
- Professional customer support as well as a support community
- Database and user creation in the installer
Plans start at $59 per year.
Concluding Thoughts: Picking the right Staging Plugin
To manage and improve your site the right way, you need a staging plugin. It eliminates all risks associated with updating and making changes to WordPress sites.
The right staging solution for you depends on your needs:
If you’re new to this and looking for a free option, many plugins offer free trials. So you can check it out before you decide to buy it.
For a fast and easy-to-use plugin, BlogVault staging is a hassle-free solution that anyone can use. It’s great for beginners all the way to seasoned WordPress developers. It comes integrated with backup and security. You can also use it to migrate, monitor uptime and manage updates that make for a great all-round solution.
We hope this article has been helpful in highlighting the best plugins and helping you choose one for your needs.