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How to clone a WordPress site

How to Quickly Clone a WordPress Site 

Do you need to clone your WordPress site before migrating to a new domain or hosting provider? 

Using a WordPress plugin like Duplicator, you’ll be able to create a fully operational copy of your site. This can be used for safe migrations, domain name changes, or file edits. 

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to clone your WordPress site!

Why You Might Need to Clone Your WordPress Site

To get started, you’ll need to know what ‘cloning’ is. Put simply, cloning involves saving a copy of your website in a new location. This is an exact copy that is fully operational.

Although this might seem similar to a backup, there is an important difference. When you back up your site, you’ll save a dormant, inactive copy. If you accidentally break something on your live site, you can restore this saved backup.

A clone is an exact duplicate of the WordPress site, except it’s independent and fully functional. You can change the site clone without affecting your live website.

Here are some reasons you might want to clone a WordPress site:

  • Creating a staging site: On a cloned site, you can perform a complete redesign, install updates, add new software, and edit files without breaking your live site. 
  • Migrating your website: If you’re moving to a new web host, you can clone the original site and set up the cloned version on the new server. This prevents any downtime that could harm your User Experience (UX). 
  • Moving to a new domain: Similar to hosting migration, cloning can help you transition to a new website with a different domain. 

Additionally, website clones can be helpful for web developers. Instead of working on the live site, you can clone your client’s website to a subdomain. Using this staging environment, you’ll be able to make changes safely.

How to Quickly Clone a WordPress Site (Step-By-Step Guide)

As a beginner, cloning may seem like a difficult process. To help you get started, we’ll show you the best way to clone a WordPress site!

Step 1: Download the Duplicator Plugin

To easily start cloning your website, we’d recommend installing Duplicator. With over 1.5 million active installations, our plugin is the most popular option for WordPress migrations:

Duplicator Pro plugin

Using Duplicator, you’ll be able to copy your WordPress site to a different domain, web host, or local environment. Plus, you won’t suffer from any downtime.

First, choose your preferred license for Duplicator Pro. Although you can download a free version, our premium subscriptions include drag-and-drop migrations, cloud storage, automatic backups, and much more.

Once you download Duplicator, you’ll need to add it to your website. If you’re new to WordPress, check out this guide on how to install and activate plugins.

During the checkout process, you’ll get a license key for Duplicator Pro. Before you start using the plugin, go to Duplicator Pro » Settings » Licensing:

Duplicator license key

Then, paste your license key into the Activation settings.

Step 2: Create a Duplicator Package

After activating Duplicator, you’ll need to create a package. This will bundle together your plugins, themes, database, and other WordPress files. Then, you can easily migrate this package to a different server. 

To do this, find Duplicator » Packages » Create New:

Create Duplicator package

On the next page, give the package a name. Then, choose a storage location. With Duplicator Pro, you can connect third-party providers such as:

Duplicator backup storage

In the Archive section, choose which site components you want to include. For a fully cloned copy, select All. However, you could clean up your WordPress site by only copying active plugins or other key WordPress files:

Duplicator custom package components

After you click Next, Duplicator will scan your website. You’ll receive evaluations for your WordPress setup, files, and database:

Duplicator package scan

Even if you see a notice, you can continue with the build process. Once you hit Continue, Duplicator will create your cloned package.

On the Packages page, you’ll see an Installer file and an Archive zip file. Before you move on to the next step, download both of these:

Download WordPress site clone

Tip: Duplicator is also a WordPress backup plugin. Once you download your site’s package, you can restore these files whenever you need to. You could also consider setting up automatic backups so you always have a cloned copy on hand.

Step 3: Upload the Cloned Files to Your New Server

Once you have a cloned copy of your WordPress site, it’s time to upload it to a different location. If you’ve already installed WordPress, open your dashboard and install Duplicator Pro. Then, find the Import page and upload the package’s archive file:

Import website archive

However, you don’t have to have WordPress installed. Using Duplicator, you can upload your package to a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client or cPanel. This will allow you to install the site even on a completely empty directory.

If you choose to use an FTP client, we’d recommend FileZilla. This free software makes it easy to connect to your site files and start editing them:

FileZilla website

At the top of the FileZilla window, enter your host name, username, password, and port number. Usually, you can find this information in your WordPress hosting dashboard:

FileZilla Quickconnect

After you hit Quickconnect, you’ll see your site files on the right-hand side. Next, open the root directory, which is the public_html folder. Here, upload your Duplicator package:

Upload cloned site files

You should see both an installer.php file and a zip file containing your WordPress data. Be sure to delete any other files from your public_html folder. 

Step 4: Create a Database for Your Cloned Site

For a WordPress website to function properly, it needs a database. After you’ve uploaded your cloned files, it’s important to create a new database to store its data. This will enable Duplicator to move information from your old database to the new one.

Your web host will likely allow you to edit your database from your control panel. For example, Bluehost has a setting for MySQL Databases:

MySQL databases

After clicking on this, look for the option to create a new database. Give it a name and click on Create Database:

Create MySQL database

Now, you’ll need to add a new user to the database. In the MySQL Users section, enter a new username and password:

Create MySQL user

You’ll also need to assign that user to the new database:

Add user to database

For the next step, be sure to remember your database information!

Step 5: Run the Duplicator Installer

Finally, open a new browser window. In the search bar, enter your full web address followed by ‘installer.php’. Here’s an example:

https://yourdomain.com/installer.php

On the Duplicator installation page, find the Setup section. Here, enter your new host name, database name, username, and password:

Duplicator installer

Then, scroll to the bottom and hit Validate. Duplicator will test your database connection. If everything is working correctly, select the terms and notices checkbox and click Next:

Duplicator validation

At this stage of the cloning process, Duplicator will import your database and finish the installation. If it is successful, you’ll see an Admin Login button:

Website clone login

With one click, you can log into the WordPress dashboard for your new site! This new WordPress installation will look and function exactly like the original website. 

Note: If you’re migrating your site permanently, you’ll need to update the wp-config.php file to reflect the new hosting information. Be sure to also implement 301 redirects and inform Google about the change, so that you don’t lose any SEO ranking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you duplicate a WordPress site?

Yes, you can duplicate a WordPress site. First, install a cloning plugin like Duplicator Pro. Then, build a package of your site and download it. Finally, upload this package to a new server and run the installer to duplicate your existing site.

How do I download a full WordPress site?

You can download a full WordPress site by logging into that site’s dashboard and installing Duplicator Pro, a backup and migration plugin. Next, create a new package and include all of the site’s data. After the package is built, download it.

How do I clone a WordPress site without plugins?

To clone a WordPress site without plugins, you’ll have to use an FTP client or cPanel to download a copy of your site’s files. Then, upload these files to the destination server. You’ll also need to export your old database in phpMyAdmin and import it into the new location.

How do I duplicate a WordPress site for staging?

First, be sure to create the staging area using local software like LocalWP, MAMP, WAMP, or XAMPP. You could also use your web host’s staging service. Then, create a package of your production site with Duplicator and import it into the staging site.

For more details, check out our guide on how to create a WordPress staging site.

How do I migrate my WordPress site using Duplicator?

To migrate your WordPress site with Duplicator Pro, create a new package. Then, download the package’s archive file. Once you install Duplicator on your new website, go to the Import page and upload the archive. This will launch the Duplicator migration wizard, which will walk you through the installation.

Conclusion

By now, you can clone your WordPress site to a new staging environment, domain name, or server! 

While you’re here, you may like these extra WordPress tips, tricks, and guides:

Are you ready to clone your existing website? Download Duplicator Pro today!