Moving your WordPress site from one place to another is normal; and there can be many reasons why you may want to do it. Lets take a look at some scenarios when you want to make a duplicate of your WordPress site and move it:
1. When you want to transfer a WordPress site from local to a production server (online). Developers many times develop the complete site locally, and then move it to online.
2. When you want to test a plugin or theme, but don’t want to do it on a live site as it can affect the working of the site. In such a case, create a duplicate site, movie it to local environment (also known as installing WordPress locally) and then experiment as much as you want.
3. When you want to change a domain name; for example: from http://example.com to http://newdomain.com.
4. Or you just want to backup your WordPress site.
In all these situations, you can make a copy/duplicate your WordPress website and then install it to some other location. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial that will help you to clone and move an entire WordPress site.
How to use Duplicator plugin
For the purpose of this tutorial, we will be using a free plugin known as Duplicator. This plugin can be used to duplicate, clone, or migrate a site from one location to another. It’s a one-stop plugin when you are thinking to move a WordPress site.
First, lets learn how this plugin works. Basically the plugin first scans your site, and then creates two files, one is the Installer script, and another contains the archive of your complete site. Both the files are then downloaded to your computer, and then needs to be uploaded to the server. The installer is then run on the server, and it will duplicate/copy your entire site along with database, content, and all files to your chosen location.
This plugin aims to do just everything when it comes to moving a site, apart from creating the MySQL database and user. However, creating a new blank database and assigning a user to that database is really easy if you have access to cPanel. You can find detailed instructions on how to do this from here, but the process might vary depending on which webhost you are using.
When it comes to using this plugin, the process is very simple and you should be done with transferring your site quickly, but if you have a large site with tons of data, then it might take more time.
Step 1: Creating the Package
In this step, the plugin will create a package with entire content of your site, into one single zip file.
Install and activate the plugin on the website which you want to copy. Now, go to your WordPress admin > Duplicator > Packages and then click on “Create New” button to create a new package.
When creating this new package, you can select to exclude certain directories or file extensions. Also you can exclude certain tables if you don’t want them.
From the “Installer” section, you can enter the MySQL host, database name, username and other details of the new website. If you haven’t created a new MySQL database where your website will be copied to, then you can enter them later also. For now, you can leave these fields blank and click on the “Next” button.
The plugin will now scan your website and check it for any problems. The results are then displayed on the screen. If there are any issues, then you will need to solve them. Once done, click on the blue “Build” button.
Your package will now be created in a few seconds, depending on how big your website is. Once the package is complete, you can then download both the files, Installer.php and the Archive file (which will be in .zip format).
Step 2: Running the Installer
Now that you have downloaded the installer and archive files, you need to upload it to the location where you want to install the copy of your website. This will be the place where you want to move your site to.
Note that you need to upload both the files to the root of your server, which is usually public_html or wwww. If the files are not placed in this root location, then you will get an error.
Now, open a web browser and visit the location of the installer file. This would be something like http://yourdomain.com/installer.php. This will run the Duplicator Installer on your server.
Enter the details of your MySQL database and then click on “Test Connection” to validate your database connection settings. When everything is good, click on the “Run Deployment” button. In the next “Update” step, you need to enter/change old URL and path settings and new settings, you can create a new admin account, select which plugin to activate and when done, click on “Run Update” button.
Step 3: Testing
The final step is “Testing”, which means that installation is complete and you can now check your WordPress site. You should check a few latest pages and posts, media and everything that you find important.
So that’s how you can make a clone of a WordPress site. There are some other solutions also, but this plugin is easy to use once you understand how it works.