So you read all about the benefits of hosting your WordPress site with WPEngine and made the switch. One of the awesome features that caught your eye was the ability to put your website in a staging environment for testing, but now you’re not so sure exactly how to go about doing that. Well, that’s where we step in.
We’ve created a step-by-step tutorial on how to use your Staging area, giving you the freedom to add, edit, modify, delete, create, update, and test your site to your heart’s content without affecting the live site until you are 120% ready to make those changes live. And the best part is? It’s so easy!
You will need to login to your WordPress dashboard, then click on the WPEngine menu item at the top-left of your screen. This will take you to the page where you will handle the Staging area.
Once you are in the WPEngine settings, you can click on the “Staging” tab at the top of the page.
Assuming this is the first time you (or any other administrator on your account) has created a Staging site, your screen should look just like the screenshot below. Otherwise, your screen will look more like the screenshot in Step 4. Either way, you are here to create a new Staging area. Do that by clicking the blue “Copy from Live to Staging” button.
Note: if you do already have a staging site that was previously created, this will override that staging environment. Make sure you want to do this before clicking the “Copy” button.
After you click the button to copy your site, you will have to wait. This can take anywhere from 1 minute to a lot longer than that, depending on how large your site is and whether it is a single WordPress install or a WordPress MultiSite install. You can refresh the page every now and then until eventually, you will see the screen shown below, indicating the date and time you staging site was successfully created, as well as the URL where you can access the front-end of your new staging area.
In order to access the WordPress dashboard of your staging area, just add /wp-admin or /wp-login.php to the end of your staging site URL and log in using the same credentials you use on your live site. Now you are free to make any changes within the dashboard of your staging site.
But you might need more than just dashboard access to make your changes. No worries, you can also set up a Staging SFTP account so you can edit the files on your staging site as well. To do this, you will need to login to your WPEngine account. Click on the domain name you want to work on. At the bottom of that page, you will see the SFTP access usernames. Click on the staging username, which we will leave as is.
In the popup box that opens, you will create a new password for this SFTP account. Make sure to confirm the password and that they both match. You should leave the “path” empty so you have access to all folders on the staging site. Click the “save” button. This new SFTP access will be available within a minute or two. You will need to utilize an FTP service that supports SFTP, we prefer FileZilla for it’s ease of use and speed. Once you get logged in to your SFTP client, you are free to go, changing your site however you wish with no effects to the live site.
I told you that was easy. But wait, there’s one more thing that is sort of important. What happens when you make all your awesome new changes to your site and you’re ready to make them live and show the world? Simple. Go back up to the screenshot in Step 4. See that nifty little “Copy from Staging to Live” button? Click that and your staging site will now become your live site. But use caution with this, only do that when you are absolutely sure you are ready to make the changes live. Although you could always run a Restore Point in your WPEngine dashboard.
So go ahead, create that Staging site and let your imagination run wild with all the possibilities for a new and updated website. And feel confident and safe that you can’t possibly screw this up.