A common question that website owners often ask is, "How can I work on a website that is currently published and live?" Then the second part of that question is, "How do I update a website that's currently on the internet with a version that I've updated?" These questions are easily solved using an option provided by the Softaculous software called Staging. The Staging site provides a way for you to work on a live website that you want to update or re-design without interrupting the existing site. Then, when you have completed updating your website, Softaculous provides a way for you to make the changes live, replacing the old site.

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Before You Start

As a rule of thumb, if you are going to do anything with your website files, then you should be creating a backup first. This provides insurance for you in case anything goes wrong. Additionally, you have a backup of your site before you push out your updated website. The Staging option provided by Softaculous works with existing websites that are being tracked within Softaculous. So, if necessary, you may need to import your site into Softaculous in order to make use of the Staging option.

Creating a Staging Site using Softaculous

  1. Login to your cPanel.
  2. Click on Softaculous in cPanel.
  3. Click on the Installations icon in the top right corner of the Softaculous screen.
  4. Select the website installation that you want to use.
  5. In the table of installations within Softaculous, look at the column labeled Options. If you hover over the first icon under the options is Create Staging. Click on this icon.
  6. The next screen that you will see is the Staging screen for the website you have selected.
  7. You will see the live URL listed at the top and the option to select the protocol to get to the site. Click on the drop-down menu to select what you want to use.
  8. Next, you will be able to select a domain that is managed by your cPanel installation. If you want to use a totally different domain, the domain must be added to the cPanel account using the Addon Domains.
  9. Once you have selected the domain, then you will see the option to select a directory. If you want to use just the domain name, then leave this field blank. If you want to create a subdirectory under the selected domain, then you add a name to this field. For example: subdirectory-name. In this case, the "subdirectory-name" folder would be created, and the URL would be: http://domain-example.com/subdirectory-name.
  10. The next field will be the default database name. If you want to change it, simply click in the field and type in the new name of the database.
  11. Click on the Create Staging button to create the staging site.

Softaculous will then complete the process of creating your staging site! Basically, the staged site is a duplicate of the original site, but with a different URL and copied in a different location. You can then log in to the site and make updates or changes to the site. Keep in mind that if you are trying to keep changes that are made in the original site after you have created the staging site, then you would be required to perform a merge process with the updated website or select the tables that you do not wish to overwrite when you make your staging site live. For example, with WordPress, if Posts have been updated since the creation of the Staging site, then you will need to make sure that you do not overwrite the associated post tables when you make the site live. This will be discussed below. Ideally, you will want to keep changes to your website at a minimum when it is being changed or updated in a different location.

Publishing the Staged Site

Once you have completed updating or re-designing your website using the Staging site, then you will need to publish the site. We recommend that you first backup your original site before you publish the updated Staging site. This will give you a current backup of your website before it is replaced with the Staging site.

  1. Login to your cPanel.
  2. Click on Softaculous in cPanel.
  3. Click on the Installations icon in the top right corner of the Softaculous screen.
  4. Search for your Staging site in the list of installations within Softaculous. In the table of installations, look at the column labeled Options. You will see an icon to the left of the create staging site icon. If you hover over this icon then you will see it labeled as Push to Live. This icon will appear only after you have created the Staging site. Click on the Push to Live icon.
  5. The next screen that you will see is the Push to Live screen for the website you have selected. Notice that it will list the version of the software used for the website. For example, if you have used an older version of WordPress, then the Staging site will also be the same version. There will be options that you can select: Default Options or Customize. The Customize options will list tables within the database that are being changed. You can unselect these tables so that they are not overwritten when the staging site is made live. For example, in a WordPress site, if you want to preserve existing posts, then you would uncheck any associated post table.
  6. There are two options for making your Staging site live. You can use the Set this installation as live button. This option removes the Push to live icon from the installation. You can also click on the Push to Live button in order to make your Staging site live. It does not remove the icon from your installation list.

Congratulations! You now know how to create a Staging site using Softaculous and publishing to replace your original site for your web hosting account on Web Hosting Hub.

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