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How to Create a Staging Website with Softaculous


Once your website is live, you will get to a point where you want to update the design or functionality. Softaculous offers you the ability to create a duplicate of your existing website so that you can test out changes before you commit to making them to your live site.

Having this ability allows you to test whether your website is compatible with the latest version of WordPress or PHP. You can also test out new themes, plugins, or layouts so that when you are ready to update your live site, you already know how it will look and function.

How to create a staging site

  1. Log in to cPanel. There are two ways to access your cPanel.
    • Option 1: Access your cPanel directly.
    • Option 2: Access your cPanel via your Customer Portal.
      1. Log in to your Customer Portal.
      2. Click Hosting in the left-side menu.

        Customer Portal - Hosting menu

      3. If you have a single hosting package in your account, scroll down to the Quick Links section.

        If you have multiple hosting packages in your account, locate the hosting package you want to manage on the Hosting Packages page, then click its Manage button.

        Hosting tab - Manage button

      4. Under the Quick Links section, click the cPanel button.

        Hosting menu - Quick Links - Launch cPanel

  2. Navigate to the Software section, then click on the Softaculous Apps Installer icon.

    cPanel - Software - Softaculous Apps Installer Icon

  3. At the top of the page, you see options for your installed scripts. Click on the Installations box.

    cPanel - Softaculous Apps Installer - Installations

  4. Locate the domain that you want to stage and click the Create Staging icon.

    cPanel - Softaculous Apps Installer - Create Staging Button

  5. Across from Choose Installation URL, select the domain you want to use for your staging site or enter a directory name in the last box labeled In Directory.

    cPanel - Softaculous Apps Installer - Create Staging Options

  6. Check the Disable Search Engine Visibility box if you do not want your staging site to show up in search engine results.
  7. If you want your staging site to be an exact duplicate of your live site, leave the Site Name box blank and click the Create Staging button.
  8. A progress bar will appear while it creates the staging site.

    cPanel - Softaculous Apps Installer - Building Staging Progress Bar

  9. You will then be presented with a Congratulations message and links to the staging site and its admin dashboard.
  10. Click on the link next to the Administrative URL to begin editing your staging site.
    Note: The admin login details are the same as the admin login details of the source account.

    cPanel - Softaculous Apps Installer - Navigating Staging Site GIF

Can’t find your installation on the list? Let’s scan and import your installation

  1. Log in to cPanel. (See options above on how to log into your cPanel)
  2. Navigate to the Software section, then click on the Softaculous Apps Installer icon.

    HostGator cPanel Software section

  3.  On the Softaculous Apps Installer page, click on the import Installations button found at the top-right corner.

    Softaculous  Import Installations

  4. On the new page that will appear, click on the Manual Installations button.

    Softaculous Manual Installations tab

  5. Once in the Manual Installations section, click on Start Scanning for Installations. The scanning takes about 3-5 minutes, depending on the number of your installations. 

    Scan for Installations

  6. Once the scan is complete, your manual installation will appear on the page.

    Imported Installation

  7. You will then click on the Installations icon on the top right. And this time, you will now see your installation. 

    Installations Icon

  8. Click on the Staging icon and follow the instructions above.

    Staging Icon

Note: While the staging function will allow you to test out your changes, there is no way to automatically push the changes to your live site. This process is called site cloning, which is a service HostGator is not offering at this time. You, or your web developer, will need to follow the steps for Changing the Domain of Your WordPress Site to copy the staged website to your live site.


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