Maintaining a Staging Store
What's a Staging Store?
A " Staging" store, also known as a "Development" or "Test" store is a functional clone of the online eCommerce store your customers visit on a daily basis, except that it is not actually expecting any live traffic from your real customers. The purpose of a staging store is to test new functionality on your store, before it becomes available for public access.
It's a wise practice to constantly maintain an up-to-date clone of your live store and apply all changes to your development store before you make them available on your live store.
Do I need a Staging Store?
If you are ever customizing your store by means of applying a design change, adding or updating an extension, updating your store version or any other kind of customization that will involve a code-level change to your store, it is strongly recommended that you apply and test these changes on a staging store first. This way you can account for software defects, extension conflicts or system incompatibilities before your customers experience problems.
In many cases, if specific store configuration, CMS pages or even catalog products or promotional rules can change the behaviour of your site, it's also a good idea to maintain these changes on both your staging store and your live store.
Maintaining a staging store is your responsibility. If you'd like to ensure minimal impact to the experience of your customers while they visit your store, this is something you should do.
How do I set up a Staging Store?
In simple terms, setting up a staging store involves making a copy of your store's code-base along with it's corresponding database, and making it available at a different URL on the internet. You would only be sharing this URL with people who are authorized to use it.
You will need FTP/SSH access to the file-system on the server that hosts your store as well as access to the MySQL database system.
Do it yourself
If you have somewhat of a technical background or you have access to a developer, you can set up a staging store yourself. There are many articles on the web that explain the process step by step. Here's a few we found:
Ask your web hosting company
In many cases your web hosting company is able to do this for you or at least help you with the hard parts at little to no extra cost. In case they're not Magento experts, just point them to some of the links above, and they'll know exactly what to do!
Get a Magento Solution provider involved
A great number of of companies today specialize in providing Magento services including set up of a staging store. You're likely to find a solution provider in a location near to you from our Partners listing.