A staging site allows you to create a clone of your website to test development changes without impacting your live site. You can catch errors before deploying the changes and avoid customer impacts on your website experience.
WordPress staging plugins make it simple to test a new website version without cloning the website manually or figuring out how to host the site yourself.
We’ll explain the benefits of using a WordPress staging site plugin, what to look for in a good plugin, and the best WordPress staging plugin available that you can easily start using today.
What Are the Benefits of Using WordPress Staging Plugins?
Using a plugin allows you to speed the process of creating a WordPress staging site to test new themes, plugins, designs, and more. Here are the top benefits of using WordPress staging plugins.
Ability to work offline
Once you clone your website, you can work on the development and design of your website either offline or online. This option gives you choices to work when and where it’s convenient for you without concerns about how good your internet connection is.
Discover issues before launching
Before you launch your new website changes, you’ll know about any bugs, issues, or critical errors. Check for the compatibility of plugins before updating your WordPress version. Review development changes to your website template before launching. Test out an entirely new website format before deploying it to your website. All the while, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your customer experience will not be impacted.
Build better websites
Thanks to having a staging site, you can do extensive quality testing before launching a new website or making changes to your existing website. No new plugins will ever break website functionality or create design flaws because you’ll know about plugin limitations before launching them on your live site. This benefit means fewer glitches and a better website experience for your website visitors.
What to Look for in the Best WordPress Staging Plugins
Some staging sites lack crucial features to make them as useful as they can be. Here are some essential features you want to ensure your plugin has.
Staging plugins for WordPress that take too long to create your staging site are not worth the added time and effort it takes to set it all up. Look for a plugin with an easy setup feature and that can clone your website in minutes.
Easy transition into live website
Some staging plugins don’t allow you to merge your changes to the live site, which means you have to manually go back and adapt your live website with what you did in staging. That’s a time-consuming process, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, look for a plugin that offers seamless merge options to move the staging site to live once you’ve tested your changes.
There are plenty of affordable staging site plugins available. Be sure you know how pricing works before investing in a plugin. Some base prices off the storage size of your website since they have to provide you storage space. If you’re managing a large website or multiple websites, the plugin could get pretty pricey.
Protect your staging website from search engines, hackers, and anyone you don’t want to be able to see the site yet while it’s under development. Some staging plugins make your testing website available to anyone and put your website’s assets at risk. Avoid that problem by ensuring your website’s staging site visibility is limited to your development team.
Staging your site on a different server is wise because it won’t take precious resources away from your live site, thereby slowing it down. Look for a plugin that allows you to host the website clone locally if you want to edit the website offline.
The Best WordPress Staging Plugins
Get details on the best WordPress staging plugins available to make the right decision for your website and development needs.
WP StageCoach is one of the most popular staging plugins on the market. The merge capabilities are outstanding. You don’t have to overwrite your existing database, but instead, you merge your staging site with the live one. That way, you ensure you don’t lose any important data between cloning your site and deploying your changes.
- Setup is incredibly simple
- Staging is on a different server
- Merge files or the full database
- Use with any website host
- Cannot use the plugin with multiple sites
- No free options available for the plugin
Best for: Database merge options
Pricing: Annual subscriptions cost $99.
The primary use for BlogVault is to back up your website regularly, but it also provides staging that is an exact replica. Click one button and get a staging site hosted on a different server than your live site in seconds. You’ll enjoy this staging plugin no matter what hosting service you use.
- Stage website on a different server with no added fees
- Offers password protection for staging site
- Supports SSL
- Can be used for multiple sites
- Facilitates selective merge options
- Staging sites auto-expire
- Must pay for this plugin
Best for: Outstanding website backups with a strong staging environment
Pricing: Plans start at $7.40 per month for one website.
WP Staging offers a free plugin option that anyone can use. But with that comes some limitations to what you can do with the plugin. With one click, you can create a free staging site to test simple updates or new plugins. You’ll be using the same server as your live website, which makes it challenging to test more advanced website changes. Using it for advanced development change testing could lead to issues with your live site, so proceed with caution.
- Easy to use
- Fast website cloning
- Selective merge options
- Create multiple staging sites to compare changes and quality test
- Requires user authentication to access
- Free version tools are limited
- Merging a staging site with alive site requires a paid plan
- Staging sites expire after an hour in the free version
- Presents security concerns
- Limits website size
Best for: Testing minor website changes, such as a new plugin
Pricing: Stage one website for free with limited features. Paid plans start at $108 per year.
WP Time Capsule
Primarily used for website backups, WP Time Capsule also offers phenomenal staging site options. One great thing about this plugin is that it’s great for large websites and provides options for selective merge to include specific files or databases.
- Simple and easy to use
- Selective merge options
- Staging site is fully password protected
- 30-day free trial
- Requires a cloud database to store the site on, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.
Best for: Staging sites for large websites
Pricing: Starts at $49 a year, but you can get started with a 30-day free trial to see if you like the plugin.
Depending on how long quality testing takes for changes to your website, you might experience new changes to your live site in that timeframe. As such, having a push and pull functionality for your staging site is a great bonus. BackupBuddy provides this unique feature so that you can bring over even minor changes, such as blog comments, to ensure your staging site is up-to-date.
- Push and pull changes between live site and staging site with a few clicks
- Outstanding support for large files
- Some technical expertise required to set up plugin
- Comparatively complicated merging process
Best for: Pulling new changes from your live website into your staging site
Pricing: Plans start at $80 per year.
Duplicator is not a staging plugin, per se, but it provides all the tools you need to create a staging site since its main function is to duplicate your website. You can download a copy of your website to your preferred staging location. When moving the test site to your live site, you won’t have merge options as you do with other plugins.
- Fast site download to preferred location
- One-click site download
- Good for large websites or databases
- More complex than other staging plugins
- Potentially overwhelming for beginners Best for: Creating a duplicate version of your website
Pricing: Plans start at $59 per year.
Start Testing Websites with Ease
A plugin is certainly one of the fastest and easiest ways to test WordPress changes. Enjoy extreme convenience and flexibility by selecting one of the plugins listed above to complete quality testing before deploying changes to your website.