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How to copy a WordPress website

How to Copy a WordPress Website (4 Methods) 

Written By: author image Joella Dunn
author image Joella Dunn
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.
     Reviewed By: John Turner
reviewer image John Turner
John Turner is the President of Duplicator. He has over 20+ years of business and development experience and his plugins have been downloaded over 25 million times.

Do you need to copy your WordPress website?

Whether you’re moving to a different web host, creating a backup, or setting up a testing environment, you’ll need to copy your website. Fortunately, you can do this in just a few easy steps. 

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to copy a WordPress website!

Reasons to Copy a WordPress Website

Here are a few reasons you might decide to copy your WordPress website:

1. Creating a backup

You’ll always want to be prepared for the worst. Errors, hacks, and other disasters can happen.

To boost your security, create a copy of your website and store it in a safe location. When you have this copy (or backup), you can restore your site whenever you need to. 

2. Testing changes

Over time, you may need to add changes to your website. This can include theme updates, new plugin installations, or any other customization.

It’s best to create a local staging environment with an exact copy of your live site. This way, you can test out changes safely and troubleshoot issues before updating your live site. 

3. Site migration

Your site may eventually need a new hosting provider or domain name. Having a copy of your site can make this transition smoother.

Once you copy your WordPress website, you can move this copy to the new location. You can ensure everything works well on the new host or domain. During this time, your old site will still be live, so there’s no downtime!

4. Building a new site

If you’re a developer or run a design agency, you’ll need to quickly build new sites for your clients. Often, you can speed up the design process by creating a pre-configured WordPress installation. 

Simply create a basic starter site, copy it, and install it in the new location. This acts as a template for all your new sites, instantly reproducing the same basic functionality. 

How to Copy a WordPress Website

Copying a WordPress website is easy! However, you’ll need to decide which method you want to use. We’ll walk you through each one, so you can find the best one for your needs.

Method 1. Use a WordPress Cloning Plugin

The easiest and fastest way to copy a WordPress site is to use a cloning plugin. These WordPress plugins are designed to quickly make copies of your entire site.

With a WordPress cloning plugin, you don’t have to deal with any complex technical tasks. You’ll instantly clone your site, making backups and migrations much simpler.  

Step 1: Install Duplicator 

As a beginner, you won’t find a better website cloning plugin than Duplicator. This tool creates custom copies of your WordPress website. It can copy your site, store backups in the cloud, build staging sites, and much more.

Duplicator Pro plugin

The free version does allow you to copy your site. But, the premium version supports extra helpful features like custom backups, cloud storage, and drag-and-drop WordPress migrations.

Once you make a purchase, open your WordPress dashboard and install Duplicator.

After this, go to Duplicator Pro » Settings » Licensing.

Activate Duplicator Pro license key

Paste your license key and activate it. You’re now ready to copy your WordPress site!

Duplicator is the best plugin to clone, back up, and migrate WordPress sites. However, you can also use All-in-One WP Migration, WP Stagecoach, or UpdraftPlus.

Step 2: Create a Package

Now it’s time to create a copy of your WordPress website. To do this, navigate to Duplicator Pro » Packages » Create New.

Create new backup

Name the new package. If you want to send the website copy to cloud storage, deselect the Local storage option. Choose a cloud service instead.

Duplicator backup storage locations

At this point, you can customize the copy of your site. If you want a full copy of all your data, expand the Archive section and choose All Components

Duplicator full backup

You could also just copy the database or media library. With Duplicator, you’ll be able to include or exclude the core WordPress files, plugins, and themes.

Duplicator custom package components

Click Next. On this page, you’ll see a full scan of your website. If everything looks good, hit Build.

Duplicator package scan

Now, Duplicator will back up all the data you included in the package. Depending on your preferences, this copy will be stored in a cloud storage service or on your local server.

If you copied your WordPress site to have a backup, you’re done! However, to install it in a new location (like a new host or server), download the backup.

Download Duplicator package

For Duplicator Lite, be sure to download both the archive and installer files. Duplicator Pro users can just download the archive file.

Step 3: Install the Cloned Website

After you download the package, you’re ready to install it in a new location! How you do this will depend on why you’re copying your website.

For example, you might be moving your cloned website to a local staging site. In this case, open the folder for your local site and upload both the archive and installer files.

MAMP upload Duplicator package

However, you might want to move your entire site to a new hosting provider. Connect to your new server with an FTP client like FileZilla. Upload your backup files to an empty directory.

Upload cloned site files

If you’ve already installed WordPress, all you’ll need to do is install Duplicator. Then, upload the archive file to the Import page.

Import website archive

Step 4: Create a New Database

After you’ve successfully installed the cloned website, you’ll need to create a new database. 

As we mentioned earlier, there are a few different reasons you might be copying your WordPress site. You might need to transport it to a local server or another live host.

For live servers, log into the WordPress hosting control panel. Find the Databases section and click on MySQL Databases.

MySQL databases

Name the database and hit Create Database.

Create MySQL database

Now, create a new user by choosing a username and password.

Create MySQL user

Next, add the new user to the database you just created.

Add user to database

For localhost installations, visit one of these links to launch phpMyAdmin:

http://localhost/phpmyadmin/

http://localhost:8080/phpmyadmin/

On the left, hit New. Then, name the new database and click on Create.

Create new local database

Be sure to remember this database information for the next step. You’ll connect to the new database as you install the copy of your website.

Step 5: Run the Installer

By now, you’ve uploaded the copy of your site to the new location and added a new database. To finish, all you’ll need to do is run the Duplicator installer.

If you uploaded the backup to a local server, open the installer with this link: 

http://localhost/local-site/installer.php

Use this link in a new browser window if you’re migrating to another live website:

https://your-domain/installer.php

Either of these options will immediately open the Duplicator installer wizard.

Under Setup, fill out your database name, username, and password.

Duplicator installer

Hit Validate. Accept the terms and notices and continue to the next step.

Duplicator validation

In the pop-up window, confirm the installation.

Install MAMP local site

If you’re moving to a new domain name, be sure to have the Advanced mode enabled during the installation.

Advanced Duplicator migration

Then, you can search for your old domain and replace it with the new one. Duplicator will add an extra step for you to do this.

Duplicator search and replace

Now you can log into the new copy of your WordPress website! Simply click on the Admin Login button.

Website admin login

Method 2. Manually Copy a WordPress Website

If you prefer having more control or you don’t want to install another plugin, you can manually copy your WordPress website.

Keep in mind that this method requires a lot more technical skill. You should choose another option if you’re not familiar with your website files and database.

Step 1: Download Your Site Files

Without a WordPress cloning plugin, you’ll have to download all of your site files by hand. First, connect to your site with an FTP client, cPanel, or other file manager.

Then, open your public_html folder, which is your root directory. Select all of the files and folders in this directory and download them.

Download site files

Once you download these files, compress them into a single zip file.

Step 2: Download Your Database

Another important part of your WordPress site is the database. To download it, sign into phpMyAdmin.

WordPress phpMyAdmin

Select your database and click on the Export tab.

phpMyAdmin export

Then, download your database as a SQL file. 

Export WordPress database

Like with your site files, compress this SQL file. 

Step 3: Upload the Files to the New Location

Now, you’ll need to decide where you want the new copy of your website to live.

You could create a subdomain or subfolder on your server. Alternatively, you might want to move it to a new localhost or its own live server.

On the new location, open the site’s root directory. Upload your original site’s compressed files.

Upload site files

After it uploads, extract the zip file. All of your files are now imported into the new server.

Step 4: Upload the Database to the New Location

For the next step, you’ll need to create a new database. Read the instructions in Method 1 for more details.

Once you have a new database, select it in phpMyAdmin. Then, find the Import tab.

Import database

Hit Choose File and upload your compressed database file. Click on Go to import your old database.

Step 5: Update Your wp-config.php File

Finally, you’ll need to open the wp-config.php on the cloned site. This still has information for your original database, so it needs to be updated.

In the file, find and update these values:

  • DB_USER
  • DB_NAME
  • DB_PASSWORD
Update wp-config.php file

If you moved to a new domain name, you should also search for the original site’s domain in the database and replace it with the new one. 

Method 3. Copy a WordPress.com Website

If you run a WordPress.com website, there is a built-in way to copy your site. However, you’ll need to have the WordPress.com Creator plan. Plus, the hosting features should be activated.

Then, go to Sites and click on the three-dot icon next to your website. From the list of options, hit Copy site.

Copy WordPress.com site

Choose a domain for the new site.

Copy WordPress.com site to a new domain

Finally, purchase a Creator plan for the new website. WordPress.com will automatically copy your first site to the new domain. 

Method 4. Copying a WordPress Website When You Don’t Have Admin Access

At this point, you know how to copy a WordPress website that you already own. But what if you see another website with an interesting design?

You might want to copy a website that you see online. You can’t copy the exact site because you don’t have access to the server or WordPress dashboard. Plus, we wouldn’t recommend copying the content because of legal and ethical concerns.

However, you can easily identify the theme and plugins that a website is using! Then, you can install them on your own site.

To get started, make sure the website was built with WordPress. Sometimes, you can see this information in the footer.

Alternatively, open the site’s source code and search for “wp-content”. If you see this, you’ll know it’s a WordPress website.

To see what theme a site is using, open WPBeginner’s WordPress Theme Detector. Enter the website you want to copy.

WordPress theme detector

It will tell you the specific WordPress theme.

Detected WordPress theme

For plugins, open the site’s source code again. Search for “wp-content/plugins”. 

Copy WordPress plugins from a site's source code

This will show you the name of each plugin a site uses. You can then install them on your site!

FAQs About Copying a WordPress Website

Can you copy an entire website?

Yes, you can copy an entire website. We’d recommend using a plugin like Duplicator to simplify the cloning process. With it, you can download copies of your WordPress website without needing coding knowledge.

How do I copy a WordPress site locally?

Copying a WordPress site locally involves setting up a local server environment using software like WampServer or XAMPP. Then, using Duplicator, create a package, which is a copy of your original website. From there, install the copy on your local site.

For more information, read our tutorial on how to move a live WordPress site to a local host!

Can I copy my WordPress site to another domain?

Yes, you can copy your WordPress site to another domain. This process involves cloning the website using a plugin like Duplicator, and then uploading the copy to the new domain. Be sure to update the wp-config.php file on the new domain to connect with the correct database.

How do I import a WordPress site?

Using Duplicator, you can import a WordPress site by simply dragging and dropping a backup into the Import page. The migration wizard will walk you through the rest of the installation.

To see more tools that can import a WordPress site, here are the best WordPress migration plugins.

Conclusion

While you’re here, you may also like these WordPress guides:

Are you ready to quickly and easily copy your WordPress site? Download Duplicator Pro, the best WordPress cloning plugin!

author avatar
Joella Dunn Content Writer
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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