What is wrong with WP Staging plugin?


How it all started

One of our clients had recently mentioned using the WP Staging plugin on his popular WordPress site and he was very happy with it. He claimed that it saved him time and money that was previously spent on developers to test new website features without affecting live site.

This testimony ignited our curiosity so we went into it to see what the fuss is all about, after all maybe it is the silver bullet that we were looking for all this time, maybe it will take down the burden of constant site migrations to a staging server where all changes are thoroughly tested before moving them live? We decided to give it a try.

Let’s do some testing

Fresh WordPress was installed and WP Staging plugin activated, so far so good.

Now we went to main WP Staging page in admin, then to it’s Sites/Start page where we clicked on button to create a new staging site and finally we started cloning process.

Cloning itself took few seconds to complete. It was all ready and now it’s a time to see the results.

After looking at the cloned files and database tables we were startled at first, couple of minutes more and we got slightly concerned, then after a while, worried.

What is staging environment?

By definition staging is an environment for final testing immediately prior to deploying to production and it is meant to mimic production environment as closely as possible.

Best practice is to create a separate server for your staging environment.

Obviously when sites share resources, there’s always a chance that a change in staging could possibly harm the production environment, which should be avoided if at all possible.

What is wrong with WP Staging plugin?

What this plugin does is that it creates a staging site in a subfolder of the live site and copies all live database tables with a new prefix in a same production database.

There are hell of a lot of things that could go wrong if you are making ‘staging’ site like this and we don’t like the idea that our clients are using it on the established and popular sites.

Here is a short list of what could go wrong:

1) Website performance issues

Slowing down the production site because you are running exact site copy on same server resources. This means that same database queries and php calls that you have on live site are now on ‘staging’ and they are taking resources once more! Depending on the plugins and themes that are installed and available resources on your server this could go from little noticeable to getting your server down due to the resource exhaustion.

2) Doubling production database in size with every ‘staging’ site

Having excess tables does mean memory & hard drive space that could be regained & used for other things. You will not notice performance difference on smaller sites but it is huge on established sites with bigger databases.

3) Security

Testing various plugins on a ‘staging’ server like this is just asking for trouble. What will happen if some of the plugins or themes that you are testing are having security holes or they are poorly coded without any optimization, clearly you risk to compromise live site as well since you are sharing database and server resources.

4) SEO

This one may happen if you are not careful. If by mistake some staging urls leaks to search engines – via some plugin, ping service, theme etc. – your search engine ranking will be affected.

Don’t get me wrong, WP Staging is a well coded plugin that works what its developer says it does. There is also a good support for a plugin even in a free version. Its problem is that it is fundamentally flawed because staging should always be done on a separate server. That is the only proper and secure way for making staging site, period. If something goes wrong and site is down well you do not care much since it is a separate staging server right, now imagine same scenario on your live site – you get the picture.

Placing staging site on a live site as a subfolder and sharing its database is lazy at best and at worst very dangerous practice that can put down your live site.

There is a reason why this kind of plugin was not created earlier. Instead of WP Staging it should probably be called Lazy Man’s Staging. Right now it has about 20k active installations, and that is scary.

Should you use WP Staging plugin?

If you have well established site with lots of visits and larger database, do not use this plugin, really, just don’t! It is cheaper to pay for a proper staging server and a developer to do a site migration than to slow down live site with a ‘staging’ database and file clutter. Do you really want to put yourself in a position to knock down your live website?

If you have small personal blog with just a handful of visitors and you do not care if live site goes down than you can use it to save time. But even then be aware that ,if not properly deleted, you could be left with a database and file clutter that could affect site in a long run. If you decide to use it make sure that you properly delete every excess database table and ‘staging’ subfolder after you are done.

As WP Staging grows and becomes more popular I will probably get back and update this article, we would like to hear your opinions and experiences with this plugin so if you have any feel free to post it in the comment section bellow.

Stay secure!

18 responses to What is wrong with WP Staging plugin?

  1. Brigid Rynne says:

    I wish I had read this review before trying WP Staging. Googling hasn’t thrown up anyone else who has had the same issue as I had, but your review explains the risk perfectly. I installed WP Staging initially to test for a plugin conflict, but – reading the blurb – I thought it would be the ideal environment to test a new theme. Not so.

    The staging site is easily identifiable by an orange bar that appears at the top of the screen. I installed my new theme and activated it on the cloned staging site. Went to look at the shop page and realised that I was actually looking at my live site – except that the product categories were showing incorrectly and some of the images were missing.

    Took me a while to sort out. Won’t be using this plugin again.

    • Milan says:

      Hey Brigid,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Hopefully more people will read this article before using wp-staging plugin in production.

  2. David Forer says:

    I was using this plugin on a new site and kind of thought there would be issues. I think it has slowed my site down and I am going to deactivate it. Just curious what else might I have to do to make sure it has been erased “deleted” from my site?

    Thanks in advance


    • Milan says:

      Hi David,

      Thank you for your comment!

      In order to remove WP-Staging completely make sure to Delete WP-Staging plugin and not just to Deactivate it. This is because process of Deleting a plugin will remove all theme settings and must use plugins. Also go through the folders on your website to make sure that there are no any staging folders left – if you find some delete them, you should do the same for staging database tables in phpmyadmin.

      I hope this info helps, give it a try and let us know how it went.


  3. Alexandre Lanoue says:


    Thanks for the article…we came to the same conclusion after looking at the documentation and trying to setup the plugin so it replicates between two physical server.

    Did you find an alternative that would allow to setup a staging environment on a separate server and push “automatically” the updates from the authoring site to the rendering site?



    • Milan says:

      Hi Alexandre,

      Thanks for the comment.

      At this time there is no alternative with automatic updates. The closest that I could find is the blogvault’s staging but they do not have auto-update push from live site, this is kinda manual solution.

      I hope this info helps. Cheers!

  4. Joel says:

    Milan – great article. What would you recommend instead?

    (I’m considering using this for my company intranet; which is not exposed externally to Google or the general public so some of the issues are mute, but I’m sure future readers would be interested in alternative methods to create a staging / testing environment.)

    • Milan says:

      Hi Joel,

      Thank you for posting a comment, I’m glad that you like this article.

      I totally agree with you and since this is an interesting topic I’m planning to write a new article that will cover alternatives and best practices for website staging and testing.

      Stay tuned.

  5. Lorice Christie says:

    Hi Millan,
    Thank yo for this information. Unfortunately, I was one of those whose website seem to have gotten killed. I get this error ‘This page isn’t working moneymaster.comparett.com took too long to respond. HTTP ERROR 504′
    I am new to this, is there a way to get my site back to how it was before I installed this plugin and to regain access to the website?


    • Milan says:

      Hi Lorice,

      Glad to hear that you like our post, thanks for commenting.

      It is hard to tell how to restore a site without looking at the back-end. If you have recent backup you can try to restore it, otherwise you may want to consider hiring developer for help.

  6. Nafi says:

    Great post well explained, i was finding the cons of this plugin before i install it. Could you suggest an alternative way to work with staging and live environment either a manual way or an automated.

  7. Mohamed Zayani says:

    I just made a simple test on a local site where I made a simple change to one page (just renamed the page) and after running the sync job it failed to replicate this simple chnage.

  8. Glen England says:

    It seems that my actual site database has been corrupted by WPStaging.

    All of my database entries have “wpstag0″ in front of them where they did not before.

    If I delete the staging site it will delete my database too.

    Has anyone run into this? I’m afraid if I delete this my site will crash!

    Please help.

    • Fuad Tareq says:

      By database entries you’re referring to database tables. And the solution is to rename the tables back to what they used to be and then delete the staging site. That is assuming you don’t want to just do a restore.

    • Kevin Jenkinson says:

      I have been using WP Staging recently, and when it creates a Staging it creates new DB entries with prefix of
      wpstag0 or something like that, but you still have your old DB files without pre-fix.
      So far i have found no issues using this plugin and if you de-activate it in the “Staging” version then you can also test without being logged in.
      Still i would say that the performance and SEO can still be an issue, so i would not recomend this for long term staging, only for a short time to check out Plugin updates and suchlike.

    • Maxine Troxell says:

      I am having the same issue. I purchased the Pro version for unlimited sites because I have to rebuild 6 sites due to NexusThemes dropping support for their theme builder. I have entered several support tickets and have yet the hear back from them. I am waiting a few more days and then if there is no fix then I am demanding a refund. I need to find a reliable alternative to having to do this manually. Let me know if you come up with any solutions.

  9. Victoria Allen says:

    Im so pleased i found your article. Thank you.
    Im looking for a method to manage the updates to a live WooCommerce site. Do you have any recommendations? How to ‘merge’ updates in to the live site? Many Thanks Victoria

  10. krista king says:

    I hate this plugin!!! I don’t mind doing things by hand, i.e. updating the db and transferring files through ftp but I keep running into road blocks and I am afraid I am going to have to redo the entire site using an ACTUALLY usable staging technique.

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