Updates to WordPress, WooCommerce, Storefront, your extensions, etc… are a fact of life. That’s because developers are hard at work releasing updates that continue to add new features, solve issues, tighten security, and in general make your site better than ever.
But how do you test an update without potentially causing issues? Let’s cover a few of the common ways!
Backup ↑ Back to top
We can’t start without first mentioning backing up your site. This is much more crucial than any staging or local setup we talk about below. Your site must have a backup strategy in place. There are many premium or free plugins to help backup your site, and we highly recommend our own backup service called VaultPress.
We love VaultPress as it backs up your entire site, both your site files and database, automatically while scanning for security issues. That is only half the battle though, it’s also simple to restore any backup right to your site with the press of a button. This makes it easy to restore to a staging site and confirm that the backups are working.
Nonetheless, the two key points here are:
- Backup both your database and your site files constantly.
- Test your backups regularly.
Testing ↑ Back to top
Speaking of testing, let’s cover how to keep your site making money bug free and updated with the latest and greatest features. Just fair warning, this can start to sound complex and technical. If any of this sounds daunting we’d always recommend working with a developer ready to handle these tasks for you. Our WooExperts are standing by.
Terms To Know
Before getting too involved, let’s review a few terms we’ll be using. Some may use other terms like a dev environment, testing environment, and production environments but we’ll stick to the basic three:
- Local – being on a personal computer, generally not accessible from the web.
- Staging – being where you test updates. Should replicate the same server setup as the live site.
- Live – being the live site. Where customers and users are visiting and purchasing.
Let’s then jump in! Keep in mind this is a simplistic overview, and there are many tools and ways to do this. There aren’t absolutes in how you test updates, just as long as you do not test them on a live site. If you have a developer working on your site, ask them about their process for testing updates as well.
Local ↑ Back to top
Most of those developing professionally will start their projects on a local install. Meaning they’ve got WordPress setup on their computer, and their computer acts like a server hosting their local site(s). Using your favorite code editor you can then build, update, and test updates on your own computer.
As a sidenote while working on a local install we highly recommend using some sort of version control, whether that is Git or SVN, etc… it’s definitely best to use version control for your projects, and can even make deploying a site to staging and production easier.
Staging ↑ Back to top
Let’s say in most cases you’re skipping your local site as you only need to test an update. The simplest way to get this running is to create a second WordPress install with your host and restore a backup of your live site to it. As mentioned VaultPress can do this for you, and many WordPress hosts offer tools to setup a staging environment
With this ready you can test and updates on a server setup just like the one that is running your live site. You can also share the staging site with others to let them help test. You can also test on more devices, test load time, and more.
Live ↑ Back to top
If all has gone well on staging you are ready to update your live site. You can do this however you prefer or have setup with a developer. Some developers may have Git setup to deploy from your master branch, or you yourself can click the update button knowing you’ve tested these updates and it’s safe for your live site.
Of course, should anything go awry for whatever reasons your backups are there to restore in an instant. That way your site doesn’t remain down costing you money while you scramble to figure out what happened.
And that is essentially the best setup to have, especially if your site is earning money and can’t suffer from any down time. Figure out what tools and strategies work best for you and your team or developer, and set a good testing process in place.
If you put the time upfront into testing any updates, you’ll save yourself headache and money in the end guaranteed!