SiteGround Staging - Don't be a cowboy coder!

UPDATE: The staging feature is available on our GoGeek Shared Hosting plan, which was previously called Semi-dedicated Hosting.

Ever heard of „cowboy coding“? More or less, we’ve all done it – no time for planning, let alone test website changes, each new upload messing up your CSS, installing an incompatible plugin, doing everything „live“ and visible immediately for all your website visitors to see. After all this, you end up hoping you had a backup.

How about if you could create a development copy of your website for testing purposes with a click of a button? Or be able to quickly publish the new version of the site and replace the old one? That is exactly what Joomla and WordPress users can do with our new Staging feature, allowing clients to easily create staging copies of their sites directly from the cPanel.

The daunting task of website testing:

cowboy-coder
If you have ever attempted to create a development version of a website for testing purposes,  you probably know that this is not an easy task. Most of the sites and popular open source applications (WordPress, Joomla!, Magento, SMF and many others) nowadays are URL dependent. This means that if your main WordPress site is accessible at:

http://domain.com

and you want to create a staging copy of the site at:

http://staging.domain.com

you will have to reconfigure the WordPress application to use the new address.

This is a relatively easy task for default sites that don’t use many extensions or custom themes. However, you still have to create a new database for the new site, copy the existing files, import a backup of the DB, create a new sub-domain, etc. Once you complete all of these steps you must replace all instances of domain.com with staging.domain.com.

This is a cumbersome task and it really is frustrating to deal with unimportant and unrelated sub-problems when in reality your goal is to simply create a testing copy of your site. It gets even more complicated when you have many extensions because some of them may also rely on an exact URL to work as expected. Finally, the most unpleasant part is that you have to follow the very same process again whenever the testing site has to be published and made publicly available.

What is SiteGround Staging and how does it work?

intro-staging

A System Administrators’ rule of thumb says that if you have to do a task more than once, it should be automated. Here at SiteGround we believe that this is especially valid for services that directly affect our clients. Our Staging tool allows you to create development copies of your WordPress and Joomla! website directly from cPanel. It does all the magic for you and the final result is a completely separate clone version of your main site.

The most important thing is that the tool actually doesn’t replace your „live“ domain with the new one for staging. To be able to do this we created a special Apache module which virtually routes the requests to the correct address. This allows you to concentrate on editing and experimenting with your test site version, without having to think about „how“ to do it. Once you are happy with the results, you can  push the staging version of your site live with a single click. Just to be on the safe side, we also do automatic backups each time you upload a staging version to production.

Right now, the SiteGround Staging tool is available to clients on Semi-dedicated hosting plan only and supports Joomla! and WordPress websites, but we plan to add support for other popular web applications as well. If you are a Semi-dedicated client and need to create a development copy of your site, you can do it right now from your cPanel -> Staging tool.

To illustrate the benefits of the new staging tool, we also drew a funny infographic that you can also brag with in front of your geeky friends. Also, feel free to share your opinion about the new feature in the comments below, we will be glad to hear what you think.

Dima Peteva

Head of Brand and Culture

Dima is leading all brand initiatives at SiteGround, where she started as one of our first team members way back in 2004. Since then, she has played a key role in different departments starting with Billing, Project Management, and Marketing. She’s witnessed the company grow from a handful of people to 600+ team members and more than 2 million domains hosted today. When she’s not leading the creative efforts at SiteGround, you can find her organising the local CreativeMornings chapter or taking her one-year-old Vizsla dog on a long walk.

WordPress

Comments ( 62 )

Todd

May 28, 2013

Great added feature!!! Tools like this just validates my commitment to using siteground.com!

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Jouke

May 28, 2013

Nice feature! Are there plans to support other (read: cheaper) hosting plans as well?

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Assiabi

May 28, 2013

what about shared hosting plus and VPS hosting? when we can test it?

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Marina Siteground Team

May 29, 2013

Hello Jouke and Assiabi, the staging feature is currently available only on our semi-dedicated service, but we are considering to add it to our VPS plans as well. We do not plan to include it in our lower plans as this is more of a geeky feature that should meet a much higher demand and usage on our higher plans. Regards!

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rafael

May 30, 2013

Well, it is just G R E A T

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izdale

May 31, 2013

This is one of the coolest features I've seen you add at SiteGround and I would use it regularly... too bad I can't use it on a lowly Shared Plus plan :'(

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SnowDog

Jun 05, 2013

Is this feature going to be available to clients with a reseller account? I'm not entirely sure what level of service is included in the reseller package. I can see resellers being very keen on this feature. Though we use a different CMS (not WordPress, Joomla! or Drupal) exclusively, I have to also wonder if this might work for us?

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Dima Siteground Team

Jun 06, 2013

Our Staging feature is already available for Resellers. However, for now it is limited to Semi-Dedicated hosting accounts with Joomla and WordPress installations. So, if you have a Semi-Dedicated hosting account in your Reseller package, the Staging feature is already available in its corresponding cPanel. We are currently testing the feature for VPS and Dedicated servers, so soon we will be adding Staging to those hosting plans as well.

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Leo

Dec 02, 2013

Looks great. Would it be on the Wordpress hosting? Also, is GoGeek the largest plan you have? We're already hitting 20k visits/month, and would need to start scaling up. =) Appreciate your feedback!

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Aurora

Jun 05, 2013

Great feature and probably understand why this is not available for reseller packages due to resources. This would be a fantastic feature for Magento sites as these are the systems i have most headaches with during plugin installations & upgrades but also an extremely resource hungry system. I would say than anyone looking for a simple solution for Joomla/Drupal both have great backup/restore components and the cPanel also has a backup facility so you have this to an extent anyways to fallback on. Other way of doing this on reseller accounts would be version control via git/subv or using a sub domain test.foobar.com and www.foobar.com. Not quite the same as staging but works.

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Paul

Jun 05, 2013

Please don't take too long just considering it for your vps, just do it :) Since your semi-dedicated plans start at $29.00 and vps starts at $62.00 I feel the vps is a "higher plan" If it was in the vps I would sign up today!

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Scott

Jun 05, 2013

I agree. This feature should be available for VPS accounts too. And please consider it for Magento.

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Brian

Jun 06, 2013

I am looking at moving my dedicated hosting account to SiteGround. Wlll staging be built into the admin for dedicated hosting?

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Dima Siteground Team

Jun 06, 2013

We're on it, guys! Staging for VPS and Dedicated servers is already in testing mode and will be added as a feature to both hosting plans very soon. I'll be sure to update you once it's available.

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Dawn

Jun 06, 2013

Please consider this feature for VPS and CS-Cart programs. I applaud your wonderful progress on a very challenging issue - I spend half of my time being in "Cowboy Mode" for small-mid size clients. Thank you.

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Dima Siteground Team

Jun 11, 2013

Here is that update I promised - Staging for WordPress and Joomla websites is now available for VPS accounts! We're still working on the Dedicated servers integration, so it is coming up soon as well.

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Paul

Jun 13, 2013

Thank you, SiteGround will be getting more of my money shortly.

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corey

Jun 27, 2013

"To illustrate the benefits of the new staging tool, we also drew a funny infographic that you can also brag with in front of your geeky friends." http://www.siteground.com/staging.htm If they have great imaginations... 302

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GIT Version Control Now Available!

Oct 11, 2013

[…] service. It is the newest addition to the multiple state-of-the-art tools (like WordPress/Joomla Staging tool, WP-CLI, Drush CLI for Drupal sites, etc.) that we have created to make your website management […]

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Shantanu

Nov 13, 2013

I feel stupid to ask this question, but does staging that is introduced by SiteGround allows dynamic DB updation of the staged version of the application, in case of long development cycles where the live site gets updated daily. And if this doesn't happen, what would you suggest an ideal way to keep the staged version up to date typically in case of joomla?

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Daniel Kanchev Siteground Team

Nov 14, 2013

Hey Shantanu! This is actually a very good question. Right now the Staging tool doesn't provide this feature and you can't sync your databases. However, we will soon release a new version of our Staging software which will allow you to compare your databases just before you push all changes to the live site. This means that you will be able to merge the content and this way achieve data consistency and avoid corruption and data loss.

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SiteGround Managed WordPress Hosting Reviewed : WPMayor

Nov 18, 2013

[…] you’re wondering what staging is, let me tell you that it’s a small revolution that will hopefully eradicate the […]

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Keith Davis

Mar 18, 2014

Hi Dima Love the sound of the staging area. "Once you are happy with the results, you can push the staging version of your site live with a single click. Just to be on the safe side, we also do automatic backups each time you upload a staging version to production." And that sounds even better. May go with you GoGeek plan and bring over three of my sites.

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David

Mar 26, 2014

Staging is a must for developers and this is a great feature. For those of us on a shared hosting plan, not to worry! Achieving the same result on your own is much less scary than it sounds and doesn't require a subdomain (test.domain.com) http://www.conticreative.com/The-Conticreative-Joomla-Blog/joomla-clone.html

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Pete

Apr 16, 2014

Any plans to open the staging functionality up to those of us who code straight PHP as opposed to WP or Joomla?

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Daniel Kanchev Siteground Team

Apr 24, 2014

Hi Pete, I am afraid that our cPanel Staging tool is an application dependent development framework and for now we'll not provide support for custom PHP/MySQL apps. However, we'll consider extending the functionality of the tool, so that people like you will be able to use it too. Thank you for your suggestion :)

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Patrick Steil

Aug 12, 2014

How about modifying the staging tool to just allow me to create a "clone" of any website... I would like to create a site to use as a "template" and then be able to "clone" it very easily like I can a staging site... Any possibility of this coming sometime? Thanks Patrick

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Ed

Aug 18, 2014

SiteGround - i am really impressed by you so far -- i'm getting amazing page load speeds with your 3 tier caching! and just in general the service is outstanding so far!!! better and faster than more expensive providers!... Content staging and content merging (or push to live) functionality is so much very needed for Magento that even if you made it a paid service.. i believe people would subscribe!!! I hope magento staging is coming soon!!!!! thank you again

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Ginny Deering

Jan 14, 2015

One of the reasons I chose SiteGround to host my site redesign is the staging feature. Once the site was moved, however, I found out that my database is too large for staging. Is there a workaround that will allow me to use it, say by manually importing the database less the posts, which seem to be the offending entities, as there are 455, currently. Any ideas?

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Jaimie Dijstra

Feb 19, 2015

Great feature, and I 8th the request here for Magento. Would be a life-saver!

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Andreas

Mar 21, 2015

Staging would be a hot tool. Like the ctrl-Z or undo in Windows. But for me the current staging tool of SiteGround does not work at all. All I get is a broken page when II stage and put to live again. Andreas

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Hristo Siteground Team

Mar 23, 2015

Pleaset open a support ticket, we'll investigate in details and help you further :)

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Andreas

Mar 29, 2015

@Hristo Thank you for your reply. I will open a ticket as soon as we have a stable stage copy. We have to update the theme and then we will give 'going live' a new test. I hope we can do it together with Siteground support.

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Shah

Jun 01, 2015

Is there any easy way for OC (opencart)? i am having a hard time to setup a test site and am not much into IT stuff.

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Michael

Nov 15, 2015

Any news on staging support for SSL / HTTPS SiteGround hosted sites?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Nov 16, 2015

Not yet, hopefully it will be available soon.

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Michael Lindholm Nielsen

Jan 14, 2016

Thanks. I am still looking forward to this feature. Keep up the good work! :)

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Michael Lindholm Nielsen

Jul 06, 2016

Hi Hristo, Any news on staging for SSL SiteGround hosted sites? Best regards, Michael

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Jul 06, 2016

It's working :) Just issue an Let's Encrypt certificate for the staging subdomain!

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Damian

Dec 29, 2015

Any news on staging for Drupal sites?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Dec 30, 2015

I am afraid not. However, we will be doing more about our Drupal community this year and I am positive it will soon happen.

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Leonardo

Mar 25, 2016

Staging support for SSL / HTTPS SiteGround Your Chat Transcript on 25/03/2016 Leonardo: Is staging now working with HTTPS? Dobromir N.: yes you should be able to install SSL lets encrypt for your staging website

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Mar 28, 2016

Sorry for the misundertanding, the staging tool does not yet support SSL. We are in the final testing phase and hopefully it will work through SSL by the end of the next week.

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Mikelangelo

Apr 14, 2016

Any news on SSL support for staging?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Apr 14, 2016

It's now supported, you can install Let's Encrypt certificates for your staging copies :)

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Benoit

Sep 01, 2016

I have a website with SSL installed. I can create a staging copy but cannot access it.

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Sep 07, 2016

Issue a free Let's Encrypt certificate to the staging's subdomain, that should do the trick :)

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Ryan Kristomuljono

Sep 03, 2016

any detail tutorial to do it? I try to create one, but didn't work

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Sep 07, 2016

Here's our Staging tutorial, if you experience any issues, please post a ticket in your Help Desk :) https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/staging/

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Jaime

Aug 04, 2016

Can I use this image on my blog?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Aug 04, 2016

I am afraid that this is a stock image and since we're not the author, we can't really allow you to redistribute it because of the agreement we have with the real author.

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Sudha

Oct 16, 2016

We wanted to implement https using Let's Encrypt but first wanted to test on staging. Unfortunately our DB is > 100 MB so unable to create a staging environment. So we manually duplicated the live site into a subdomain and called it staging1.livesitexxx.com When I let's encrypt this subdomain and try to access the subdomain through https:// I am getting a "Your connection is not secure" error. Any idea what I should be doing to fix this?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Oct 16, 2016

You're including resources from an unsecure location. Make sure all images and files are included through https to fix this error.

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kenny

Nov 14, 2016

Hristo, just rereading the threads. The staging did not work at all when I pushed to live (ssl). I had a siteground support agent put some code into htaccess and said that this is a workaround to use when I want to use the staging, as I am on ssl (lets encrypt). When I pushed to live, the site was exactly as it was when I went in. I just enquired now with your technical whether staging is working ok for ssl sites. And was told this: Unfortuntely, our Staging Tool does not work with SSL. You would need to disable this portion of your site while working in this environement. Could you please consider updating this post as to how we are supposed to use staging for ssl sites. Especially as the drive is for all to go https. (I actually upgraded to use the staging... but also bought the ssl certificate... which unfortunately has meant that I have never had any joy with this).(also wanted to use it as a backup area- I like something I can see, as I know nothing about databases etc.)

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Nov 15, 2016

The staging tool does work with SSL :) You should give it a try again. Just issue a new certificate for the staging subdomain (that's super easy and free with Let's Encrypt now) and it will work as a charm. That workaround you mention was a bit old way to handle it while we were updating. Furthermore, you don't have to use the same certificate for the live site and the staging copies, just use Let's Encrypt for the staging and it should work right out of the box!

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kenny

Nov 16, 2016

OK Hristo, I will print this off and give a try again soon. Thanks

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Gary Box

Apr 12, 2017

This staging feature is a nice idea but doesn't really work. Lots of us on gogeek will be using Cloudflare i suspect. Whilst i can create a staging copy i can't access it because of a DNS error message. It seems it wants the domain to point to Siteground and not cloudflare. Is this something that can be resolved by adding the staging domain to cloudflare too?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Apr 12, 2017

The staging tool works by crating a subdomain of your site which is impossible when the NS records are pointed to CloudFlare. I am afraid that there isn't an easy workaround for that. You can always make a manual staging copy of your site though.

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Ana

Aug 22, 2017

HI, The staging feature sound nice. I am a designer but not a Web Developer. I would like to redesign all my site (built in Wordpress), so I would like to check if using the staging tool is possible. My site has a WildCard SSL certificate, but I am not using CloudFlare.

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Aug 23, 2017

Well, if your old site is not WordPress, you can simply build the new one in a separate folder and once ready switch the live one with the newly designed site. Once you do that, you will be able to create a staging copy of the WordPress installation and continue developing it using the full power of the staging tool.

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Pete Hogg

Jan 14, 2018

If I cant use the staging tool becuase I use cloudflare, how do you do the work around? If I set up a subdomain and work on my redesign, surely Google will see duplicate content? No password protection. Please advise. Thanks in advance

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Jan 18, 2018

Please, get in touch with our support team via a ticket, my colleagues will assist you further.

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