How to Test Your Plugins Before You Update Your Website

I’ve been working with WordPress for the last 4 years now and if there is one thing that always seems to have an affect development of any of my sites are new versions and plugin compatibility with those new versions.  With WordPress currently working towards WordPress 3.2 currently I thought it just made sense to talk about this because so many people face this issue, but it doesn’t have to stop you from upgrading.

I am all for innovation and improving software through new releases but this is a big issue that impacts a large number of website owners out there today.  Regardless of whether you run a Joomla, Drupal, Magento, WordPress or other type of website platform with a large developer community you’ve probably experienced this problem.

I wanted to show you a way that you can test those new versions with plugins, extensions or addons that give you the functionality that you are looking for without the pain of deploying them directly into your production website.

Step 1: Setup a secondary website in a different directory similar to this structure “www.mywebsitename.com/test_site/” and create a database and deploy the core files to run your website platform.

Step 2: Make sure that you are running the latest version of the software that you are testing whether it’s WordPress or Magento or whatever software your website runs on currently

Step 3: Install the plugins that are running on your existing website in this new instance

You can get pretty detailed if you need to use this way of testing including the options of the following points…

  • Doing a database backup of your existing website and import it into your test site
  • Make sure that you block search engines from indexing your website
  • Update this test site regularly so that you can leverage what you’ve created for years to come when testing your website

This is not the same as creating a sandbox environment because you cannot approve and push changes to your production website but it can give you a lot of insight into what you need to be concerned about when updating your website without the pain of doing it in production.  Now I may have mentioned that I work in WordPress most of the time but I wanted to say that you can use this method with any pre-built website or CMS software out there and never need to fear upgrades again.

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