Support » Fixing WordPress » Method for experimenting with new theme

  • Resolved rochrunner


    I have a site that’s working well on its current theme, but would like to see what I can do with another theme that I have my eye on. So I’d like a way that I can take my time and try the other theme, play around with its settings, etc. There are two problems that I have with doing this on my “live” site:

    1) I want to take my time with this and work on it as time permits, so don’t want to take my current site off-line for an extended time.

    2) Once before I tried going from a theme A to theme B, then when I reverted to theme A it seemed like I lost some settings and had to do some things over.

    My site is self-maintained on my web hosting service (Ionos), so I’m pretty free within reason to create new directories, sub-domains, etc. So is there a “best practice” for doing this sort of thing? I’ve seen there are some plug-ins for creating “sandboxes” or “clones” of my site, but I’m not sure what would work best. Any tips would be appreciated!

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Moderator Steve Stern (sterndata)


    Forum Moderator & Support Team Volunteer

    First, you can preview your site with the new theme, in the Customizer, without affecting your live site. However, you can’t save your theme options without activating that theme, so it’s a tryout only.

    Second, theme options should all be in the Customizer (at least for WP repository themes), so you can use a plugin like Customizer Export/Import to not only make a backup of your original theme options, but enable you to move theme options from a test site to live site. That plugin does publish the theme options it is importing (and exports straight from the database, not the current options).

    Third, do you have a backup and know how to restore it? Are you able to install a test site and migrate to/from it? You can use an external sandbox, like but that has a short time limit. It’s very easy to use though, and you can import and export just as easily there as on your own test site.

    Thread Starter rochrunner


    Thanks. I don’t have the resources to install anything locally and would prefer using some sort of test site, which is what I had been picturing. I do have site backup and restore, so I’m less concerned about trashing my original theme than back when I was first learning WP.

    I’ll check out, but installing and migrating to/from my own test site might be best. Any particular tutorials on doing that anywhere? As I said, I am able to set up a separate WP installation using a temporary subdomain at any time, but then I’d need to clone my existing site to that location — with database changes to match — and then at least get the theme customizations from there if/when I decide to go live.

    There are several migration plugins that do all the heavy lifting for you, including changing the domain name in the database.

    I think you need to use this kind of tool: Snapshot

    That basically lets you quickly copy your DB that you can delay elsewhere. Normally, the manual way is safer (according to me) as it involves:

    – creating subdirectory with WP (an exact copy of the original website can go)
    – creating copy production side DB
    – create staging DB and past copied DB
    – adjust wp-config.php of the staging to points to your staging DB
    – put whatever the theme you want

    Additionally, as it’s staging, it could be good to freeze your standing DB, using “Updraft Plus” is very handy for such needs.

    Thread Starter rochrunner


    Thanks @joyously. WP Staging looks like exactly what I was looking for.

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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