Staging sites are almost a necessity these days. Even if you don’t make a ton of changes to your website regularly, you’ll still want to utilize a staging environment for the following reasons:
- test new WordPress versions before updating
- test WordPress plugin updates
- try out a new PHP version, or different server configuration
Most WordPress hosting companies offer some type of staging environment, but some are easier to use than others. Kinsta has one of the simplest staging environments that I’ve seen.
COMPARE TO: SiteGround’s Staging Sites
Let’s talk about how to set up a staging environment with Kinsta, and how to push your changes live when you’re finished development.
Create a Staging Site on Kinsta
You might have multiple sites in your Kinsta Dashboard, so you should first navigate to the site you’d like to create a staging copy of.
On your site’s Info page, you’ll see a note at the top that indicates you’re on the LIVE version of the site.
There is a button off to the right where you can change your environment. Click this button and choose Staging Environment from the dropdown. This will kick off the process.
Assuming you haven’t already created a staging environment for this site, you’ll see the following message:
Click on the Create A Staging Environment button.
It could take 10-15 minutes for your staging site to be created. For most smaller sites, it could happen as fast as a minute or two. You will see this message while you wait:
Once your staging environment has been created, there are a few things to note:
- your staging environment details are denoted by the color black, STAGING
- your live environment details are denoted by green, LIVE
Also, you’ll see all of the same sections in your staging area as you saw in your LIVE area, including:
- Basic Details
- SFTP/SSH Information
- SSH Connections
- Database Access
- and the ability to delete your staging environment
The one additional section in the staging environment is the ability to Push Staging to Live, which I’ll talk about in a second.
How to Access Your Staging Site on Kinsta
All staging site’s follow the same URL pattern:
You can find your exact URL by clicking on the Domains section of your Kinsta Dashboard.
You can use the Open URL link to access the front-end of your staging site, or the Open WordPress Admin link to access the WordPress admin area.
Access Staging via SFTP or SSH
Your staging site shares the same username & password that your live site uses, but the SFTP port number is different. Using an FTP client, create a separate connection to access your Kinsta staging environment.
Same thing goes for SSH. Be sure to create a new SSH connection with your staging environment’s port number.
Access Staging Database
Your staging environment’s database will be located at:
You’ll use the same live site credentials to access it.
Your Kinsta staging environment keeps backups separate from your live site. The last 14 consecutive staging backups are accessible from your staging environment in the Dashboard.
Other Kinsta Staging Environment Notes
A few other things to note about the Kinsta staging environment:
- Your PHP version (or HHVM) is separate from your live site, so you can test how your site will load with different versions, before making it live.
- Your log files are also kept separate from your live site.
- Cache is disabled for all staging sites, so they might not load as quickly as your live environment.
- Kinsta will automatically discourage search engines from indexing your staging site.
Push from Staging to Live
Once you’ve made changes to your staging environment, and are ready to make them live, you can use Kinsta’s Push Staging to Live feature.
A few things to note before initiating the process:
- Your entire live site will be replaced (files & database)
- Kinsta will create a backup of your live site, just in case you need to revert back
- Your site will experience a few seconds of downtime when the process is finishing up
- All of your staging site URLs will be converted back to your live domain’s URLs
- In order to see the changes, clear all cache after the process is complete
- Your staging environment is kept intact, so you can continue development right where you left off
Go ahead and click Push Staging to Live.
You will need to type in your site’s name in order to confirm the push to live. Type your site’s name, and then click Push To Live.
You’ll see a confirmation message appear, alerting you that it could take several minutes to complete the process. This will depend on the size of your site.
Once that message disappears, you’ll see your staging environment dashboard. This is indication that your staging environment was successfully pushed live.
You should check your live site now to confirm the changes are there. Remember to clear your cache!
I tested Kinsta’s Push Staging to Live feature on a very small test site, and the process was seamless.
- It took about 90 seconds to complete
- The automated backup of my live site was created without any problems
- All URLs were converted properly
- My staging environment was still fully accessible & operational
Kinsta’s staging environment, as well as their Push to Live functionality, is about as easy as any I’ve seen. And every site on your Kinsta plan includes a free staging site.
The only possible improvement I would suggest would be to the Push to Live feature. WP Engine provides the option to:
- push only the files, and no database tables
- push files & the entire database
- push files & choose select database tables
This is helpful if you have a very active site where comments might be posted to your live site while you’re making changes to your staging environment. Or you have editorial folks creating content (which is stored in the database) while you are making changes to your WordPress theme. Just pushing the files would ensure that none of that content, or those comments, would get lost.
Have you used Kinsta’s staging environment? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.