How to Clone a WordPress Blog

Why would you clone a WordPress blog?

The answer is quite simple. When making major changes to your website, such as installing a new plugin or new theme, or applying updates, it is always a Good Idea™ to test it out on a backup copy before making changes to your live site. This helps reduce, but not eliminate unfortunately, the “OMG my site is borked!” moments.

For some people the thought of creating a backup copy of their website sits alongside brain surgery or rocket science for complexity. Sure there are people who know how to do it, but it can be intimidating. For those people who have not made a clone of the WordPress blog, each post in this series will go through some of the options available to safely and relatively easily backup your WordPress website. Then I will explore the options on how to re-create it somewhere else so you can test things out in confidence.

Don’t worry, your original site will carry on, unaware you are experimenting with its clone like some mad scientist!

Initially I intended this as one long post. After creating the post plan (you do create a post plan, right?) I realised that this topic deserves more than a single post. therefore, a series of posts detailing each step of the process will help you understand and hopefully enable you to create your own clone of a WordPress blog. Each post will investigate the various options for each stage, demonstrating how you can perform each stage so you can pick the one that suits you most. For those of you who find it easier to follow a video, they will be available shortly after each post goes live.

Plan of Action

The various stages are:

  1. Create a backup of your WordPress Database
  2. Create a backup of your WordPress files
  3. Hosting your WordPress clone
  4. Testing the new upgrade or plugin
  5. Automated versions of steps 1-3

This may seem like a lot of things to do and you might be thinking it seems  a complicated process. As with most tasks, when you break it down into its individual steps and focus on each step in turn, it really is straight forward. Don’t forget I’m here to answer questions as well! While I cannot hold your hand, I can certainly help out with most questions you may have. I have combined steps 3-6 into one post.

I am showing the manual way first because I believe it is important that you understand what the automatic, push-button methods are doing. This way, if anything goes wrong you can work out what happened, why it didn’t work and fix it yourself. I will be going through some of the available plugins for creating a clone of a WordPress site at the end of the series.

Another situation where having this process in place may come in handy is if you find out your site has been hacked. Having a clone of your site is a real time-saver when trying to recover. This is especially true if you have several backup versions to fall back on, at least you hopefully will not have more than a weeks loss.

Okay, so we have our plan of action, now we need sit down and get started!

This is the first post in the Clone a WordPress Website.

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