Are you looking for the best WordPress hosting with staging environments included? Look no further—we’ve done the research for you.
Most website owners have heard about the importance of using a staging environment, but many of us fail to put that wisdom into practice.
Often, this is because creating a staging environment is a tedious, technical process. But thanks to modern web hosting solutions, that’s no longer the case.
Today it’s possible to create a staging environment with a single click, make changes, and then instantly push those changes live with another click.
In this post, we’ll cover why staging is so important, the best WordPress hosting that includes free one-click staging, and how to make use of staging on your own site.
What Is Staging, And Why Do You Need It?
To put it in simple terms, a staging site is a clone of your live website that you can use to test new changes, plugins, code, and settings in a low-risk environment.
It shares the same hardware, software, and settings, but it’s not accessible to the public. The idea is to safely test new updates on your staging site before pushing them to production.
This is a great habit to get into.
Making changes to your live website is like playing with fire. One bad line of code, or one bad plugin update—and your entire site is broken until you can figure out how to fix it.
On the other hand, if you first test your changes in a staging environment, you’ll be able to catch these problems before they ever reach your visitors.
Who Needs A Staging Site?
In an ideal world, everyone with a website would have a staging environment.
But more practically, staging sites should absolutely be used for any website that generates income or provides information or services that people depend on.
Every minute that your website is broken or inaccessible is a minute of lost traffic, engagement, and revenue.
Why take the risk when these problems are easily preventable by using a staging site?
The Best WordPress Hosting With Staging: SiteGround
As you may know, we use SiteGround here at GigaPress. After years of research and trial and error with different web hosts, it has become my go-to recommendation for my readers, students, and clients.
With a single click, you can create a private staging site, test updates and changes behind the scenes, and then either push the changes live or destroy the staging site—again, with a single click.
How SiteGround’s One-Click Staging Works
Creating a WordPress staging site on SiteGround is pretty straightforward.
Just log into cPanel, locate the “WordPress Tools” box, and click the Staging icon:
This opens the staging menu, where you can instantly create a staging copy of any site in your account:
You’ll then be asked if you want to password-protect your staging site:
Password protection is usually a good idea, as it will keep unauthorized visitors (and search engines) from stumbling onto your staging site.
At this point, SiteGround will clone your files and database, creating a brand new site on a subdomain, e.g.
Your staging site will be an exact copy, and you can edit it just as you would your live site—using the WordPress admin area, FTP, etc.
You can return to the staging area in cPanel at any time to push it live, destroy it, replicate it, or otherwise manage your staging site:
When you push your site to live, all of the changes you’ve made to the staging site will be instantly applied to your live site. (SiteGround also creates an automatic backup of your current live site, just in case anything goes wrong.)
After you’ve pushed your changes live, you can also destroy your staging site with a single click. Destroying a staging site permanently deletes its files and database from your server.
You can learn more about SiteGround’s staging feature here, or view their WordPress hosting plans here.
As an aside, staging isn’t the only area where SiteGround shines. Check out our full SiteGround review to learn why we use it, and why it’s endorsed by WordPress.org and rated #1 in dozens of industry polls.
When Should You Use A Staging Site?
It’s a good idea to use a staging site whenever you’re making changes that could break the user experience on your site.
- Editing your template files
- Updating themes and plugins
- Installing a major WordPress update
The more traffic your site gets, the more important it becomes to test these things in a staging environment before pushing them to production.
It may seem trivial and tedious, but in the event of a buggy update it can save you a great deal of stress and, indeed, money.
And when you have access to a free, one-click staging site, there’s little excuse not to use a staging environment.
Pro Tips For Working With Staging Sites
To save you some time, I wanted to add a couple of quick tips I’ve found to be helpful when working with staging sites.
Use Wildcard SSL
When I created my first staging site with SiteGround, I ran into some security errors because my live site was configured to load over HTTPS, but my staging subdomain did not have a valid SSL certificate.
If you use SSL on your main site, you’ll want to make sure you’ve enabled wildcard SSL before creating a staging site.
If you use SiteGround’s free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates, this is a quick and easy fix.
Simply open the Let’s Encrypt page inside of cPanel, then click “Get Wildcard” next to your domain name:
Once you’ve done this, all subdomains of that domain, including staging sites, will be issued free SSL certificates.
Create A New Staging Site For Each New Update
It’s a good practice to create a new staging site each time you’d like to make a change, rather than reusing a previous staging site.
Creating a new staging site will ensure that your staging site is a true clone of your current production site.
Using an old staging site may cause you to lose changes on your production site when you push it live. For example, any posts you’ve published since the staging site was generated will be lost.
Along the same lines, after pushing a staging site live, it’s generally wise to destroy it. This will save you some server resources, and it will also eliminate any confusion the next time you need a staging site.
At this point we’ve discussed the importance of staging, what I consider to be the best WordPress hosting with staging included (SiteGround), and some best practices for using a staging environment for your website.
If you have any questions about WordPress staging sites, please feel free to leave a comment below!