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How to move a local WordPress site to a live server

How to Move a Local WordPress Site to a Live Server 

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 want to learn how to move a local WordPress site to a live server?

As a beginner, you can completely design and develop your first website on a local server. When you’re ready, you can migrate your custom site to a live server. This will make your content public and allow you to start growing your audience. 

In this tutorial, we’ll show you everything you need to know about moving WordPress from a local server to a live one!

Why You Might Need to Move a Local WordPress Site to a Live Server

Did you know that you can completely build your first website without having to publish it first?

Even if you’re not a developer, you can run WordPress locally on your computer. Basically, this involves creating a staging environment for:

  • Troubleshooting your web design
  • Creating blog posts
  • Updating WordPress
  • Learning how to code
  • Any other maintenance tasks

On a localhost, you can work on a WordPress site without the risk of publishing errors to an audience. Plus, it doesn’t require a hosting plan or domain name. You can simply use a local environment like LocalWP, MAMP, WAMP, or XAMPP to host your secret site for free.

Once you’ve added all the features and functionality your site needs, you can easily migrate it to a live server. Since you developed it on a local server first, your website will be fully ready for new visitors. 

After a successful migration to a live server, you won’t have to worry about any glitches or other errors that might affect your site’s User Experience (UX). You can immediately start working towards your goals, whether it’s improving your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), building an email list, or selling products.

How to Create a Local WordPress Site

If you don’t already have a local site, you’ll need to start by creating one. If you’re not sure how, check out this guide on how to move a live WordPress site to a local host. You’ll find step-by-step instructions on building a local staging site.

Then, feel free to make any customizations you want! Your local software will set up a blank WordPress installation, so you can install a variety of plugins to help you create your dream site.

For example, SeedProd is a beginner-friendly page builder that you can use to design your WordPress website. Since it has a simple drag-and-drop interface and hundreds of pre-designed templates, you won’t have to worry about knowing any code:

SeedProd opt-in form

If you’re starting an online store, you can install Easy Digital Downloads. This e-commerce plugin makes it easy to sell anything from software to music. It helps you set up your products, connect third-party payment options, and even protect certain web pages as membership-only content:

Easy Digital Downloads product

As you can see, you have limitless options when it comes to customizing your local WordPress site.

How to Move a Local WordPress Site to a Live Server

After you’ve installed plugins, activated a theme, and fully personalized your site, it’s time to move it to a live server! This way, anyone can see and interact with your content. 

Step 1: Install Duplicator on the Local Site

For a developer or other experienced WordPress user, it might not be a problem to manually move a website to another location.

However, this migration process can take a lot of time. Additionally, there’s a good chance of accidentally breaking your custom site along the way.

A much easier and safer solution is to install a WordPress migration plugin like Duplicator. This powerful tool can package your entire local website and migrate it to a live server in just a few steps.

Duplicator Pro plugin

To get started, choose a subscription for Duplicator Pro. Although there is a free version available, Duplicator Pro supports drag-and-drop migrations. This feature is essential to move WordPress quickly and get your live site up and running as fast as possible.

After you check out, copy your license key and download Duplicator Pro. Then, open the WordPress admin dashboard for your local WordPress site. Install and activate the Duplicator plugin.

Before you start using Duplicator, you’ll need to activate your license. Head over to Duplicator Pro » Settings » Licensing and paste your license key:

Activate Duplicator Pro license key

Lastly, hit Activate. You can now move your local WordPress site to a live server!

Step 2: Create a Package

Using Duplicator, you can create backups of your site. These are saved copies of your WordPress files, database, plugins, themes, and other data. Since Duplicator packages all of this information into a single zip file, it makes it easy to migrate your website to a different server.

To build a backup, go to Duplicator Pro » Packages » Create New:

Create Duplicator package

You can give your backup a custom name at the top of the page. Although Duplicator supports many cloud storage locations like Wasabi, Google Drive, and Dropbox, you’ll need to select the Local option:

Local site package

Next, expand the Archive section. This allows you to customize exactly what data from your local site will be transferred to the new live server:

Custom archive file

If you want to create a full backup, simply click on the All tab. However, you can toggle over to Custom and uncheck your media files, active plugins and themes, the database, or core WordPress files.

When you’re finished, click on Next. On this page, you’ll see a full scan of your website:

Duplicator package scan

Be sure to review any notices before building the package. When Duplicator is finished with the backup, you’ll see it on the Packages page:

Download archive zip file

As a final step, download the archive file. Duplicator allows you to simply drop this file into your live WordPress installation and immediately start importing your local site data. 

If you’re manually uploading your site to an FTP client like FileZilla, you’ll also need to download the installer file. Even if you don’t have WordPress installed already, this installer.php script will unpack the archive file and install your content on the new location. 

Step 3: Set Up Your Live Website

Now it’s time to create your live WordPress website! To do this, you’ll need to find a WordPress hosting provider. 

Put simply, a web host will give you server space and resources for a live website. It provides the necessary infrastructure, server environment, and technical support to ensure your WordPress site is accessible and performs well. 

There are many different providers out there, so you might struggle to find the right one. However, one of the best options is Bluehost. This web host is recommended by WordPress because of its affordability and scalability.

Bluehost WordPress hosting

With Bluehost, you can get your local site online for just $2.95 per month. Plus, you’ll have a completely free domain name for the first year. 

Once you sign up for a plan, you can choose a domain name. This will be the main part of your URL that encourages brand awareness and memorability:

Bluehost domain registration

Then, finish creating your hosting account. After this, Bluehost will automatically install WordPress for you. You can simply sign into your hosting dashboard and click on the Log into WordPress button:

Bluehost WordPress login

This will open your new WordPress dashboard! However, it will be a blank installation, so you’ll need to import your local site to upload your custom data. 

Step 4: Create a New Database

Before you start migrating your local site to the new server, it’s important to create a new WordPress database. Usually, your web host will provide an easy way to do this.

With Bluehost, you can simply find the Databases settings and click on MySQL Databases:

MySQL databases

Under Create New Database, enter a name and hit Create Database:

Create MySQL database

You’ll also need to create a new user and assign it privileges for controlling the database. First, fill out a username and password for the user:

Create MySQL user

Scroll down to the Add User To Database section. Here, select both the new user and the new database:

Add user to database

As a final step, you can assign all privileges to the user. 

Step 5: Import Your Local Site

If you migrated your site manually, you’d have to upload your local site’s files to your new site with a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client. Also, it would be necessary to use phpMyAdmin to import your old database.

However, Duplicator Pro simplifies this process. After you set up your live website, open your WordPress dashboard and install Duplicator. Then, find the Import page:

Import website archive

Drag and drop your saved archive file into the import box. You’ll see some details about the package once it’s finished uploading:

Duplicator imported package

On the next page, hit Launch Installer:

Launch site installer

Now, the Duplicator migration wizard will walk you through the installation. At the top, the Install Type should be a Full install single site:

Local site Duplicator install

Under Setup, enter your new database name, username, and password. Then, hit Validate

You’ll need to accept the terms and notices. After you click on Next, confirm the installer settings.

Next, Duplicator will automatically migrate your local site to the live server. You can use the Admin Login button to access your new website!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I transfer my WordPress site to a new host and domain?

You can transfer your WordPress site to a new host or domain name by installing Duplicator Pro and creating a package of your current site. Then, install Duplicator Pro on the second WordPress installation and drag and drop your archive file to import it. After the migration, it’s a good idea to update your DNS, inform Google about the change, add redirects, and check for broken links.

For more details, check out these helpful guides:

How to Move a WordPress Website to a New Host

How to Migrate a WordPress Site to a New Domain

How do I migrate a WordPress site to a new host without a plugin?

To migrate a WordPress site to a new host manually, export your database as a SQL file in phpMyAdmin. For a local site, open http://localhost/phpmyadmin/ and select the Quick export method. Next, use an FTP client or cPanel to export files in your public_html folder, otherwise known as the root directory. 

On the new host, open your site’s root folder, right-click on all the files, and delete them. Then, upload your old site files. You’ll also need to go to the Import tab in phpMyAdmin, hit Choose File, and upload the original database file.

Import database

Even though you’ve fully migrated your content, your database may still point to the local site. To update this, open the wp_options table in phpMyAdmin.

Hit Browse next to wp_options. Then, find and edit the siteurl value in the options_name column:

Edit Site URL

You’ll also need to update your wp-config.php file. Using an FTP client or cPanel, open this file and find the lines of code that contain your database information:

// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //

/** The name of the database for WordPress */

define( 'DB_NAME', 'database_name_here' );

/** MySQL database username */

define( 'DB_USER', 'username_here' );

/** MySQL database password */

define( 'DB_PASSWORD', 'password_here' );

/** MySQL hostname */

define( 'DB_HOST', 'localhost' );

Since you moved from a local to a live server, permalinks on your posts and pages might not be working properly. To fix this, find Settings » General. Don’t edit anything before clicking on Save Changes

Next, go to Settings » Permalinks. Similar to before, save these settings without changing anything. 

After a migration, you might deal with some missing images and broken links on your new website. To make sure everything is working properly, you’ll need to replace any localhost URLs with your live site URLs. 

To do this, open phpMyAdmin and go to the SQL tab. Here, paste this SQL query:

UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE(post_content, 'localhost/test/', 'www.yourlivesite.com/');

Be sure to update the default link with your live site’s URL. After you hit the Go button, your new visitors will be able to see and interact with your migrated content. 

How do I publish my website on a live server?

You can publish your website on a live server by purchasing a web hosting plan and a domain name. Then, use Duplicator Pro to migrate your local site to the live server. 

What is the difference between staging and live WordPress?

Your live WordPress site is the publicly visible website that search engines and online visitors can see and interact with. A staging site is an identical copy of your live website, but it’s hosted locally or on your server’s subdomain. Your staging site is a private, secure place to make edits to your site without affecting your live content.

How do I copy a staging site to a live site?

To copy a staging site to a live site, install Duplicator Pro on the staging site. Create a full backup of the staging site. On the live site, upload the backup to Duplicator’s Import page.

Conclusion

That’s it! You just moved your local WordPress site to a live server.

While you’re here, you may like these extra WordPress tutorials:

Do you want to get your local website online? Download Duplicator Pro to instantly move your content and start posting to a live audience!

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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