Move a WordPress Site with the Duplicator Plugin

There are a lot of migration systems for WordPress. We’ve had lots of good experiences with All-in-One WP Migration. Some people swear by WP Migrate DB Pro. Others are partial to WP-CLI’s terminal-based systems. One of the few tools I’d never tried was Duplicator, but I recently did and I love it. I was very pleasantly surprised about a specific facet of it: I don’t need WordPress to get a new local copy of a remote WordPress site running on my local machine. You just pull down two files, put them in the same folder, and then you’re set. It’s great!

Duplicating WordPress sites is a common task for people developing them, whether that’s to change some plugin or theme settings, or do full-fledged plugin development writing PHP or JavaScript. One hassle I’ve found with most other solutions is that you don’t have a little one-step process, I’d instead have to install WordPress, then a plugin to accept my migration, then accept it. What a hassle! Duplicator skips all that, with an installer.php file, that it run from your browser and quickly gets you a WordPress sites in a few click of a wizard.

Here’s a video explaining how to work with Duplicator:

And for those who prefer, here’s the steo-by-step how-to:

How to Migrate a Site Using the WordPress Duplicator Plugin

  1. Install and activate, on the WordPress site you’re copying from, the Duplicator plugin.
  2. Click on “Duplicator > Packages” in the left-side menu (it’s be toward the bottom).
  3. In the top right on that screen, click the “Create New” button.
  4. Click through the wizard. That’ll be a blue “Next” button on the “1-Setup” screen, and a “Build” on the “3-Build” screen.
  5. When you see “Package Completed” click the “One-Click Download” link. You should be prompted (by your web browser) to download two files. Save both.
  6. After they’ve completed the download, move the two files (installer.php and something ending with .zip) into the folder you’ll want the WordPress site in.
  7. In a web browser (with your server running) visit the installer.php file.
  8. If everything works, you should see a wizard screen similar to the style you saw in your WordPress dashboard. You’ll need to click “I have read and accept all terms & notices.”
  9. Click “Next”
  10. Here you’ll need to have a database ready. Then tell Duplicator your database name, user, and password. For me, that meant creating a new one with MAMP, but this step will vary depending on your environment.
  11. If it all works, you’ll see “Step 4 of 4: Test Site”. There you’ll want to click the “Site Login” button, and log in to your WordPress site using the same username and password as you have on the remote site.
  12. You should now be in a full-fledged copy of your WordPress site. Make sure to clean up after Duplicator. It’ll give a helpful admin notice (banner at the top) showing you think. If you click “Take me there now!” you’ll then be on the screen to click “2. Remove Installation Files Now!” After you do that, you’re done.

It’s pretty amazing how polished and slick the Duplicator plugin is. I know 12 steps looks like a lot, but migrating sites is hard, and in the above I favored small explicit steps. I assure you this is easier than most other WordPress migrations I’ve done in my career. You can hear my surprise and excitement in the video. ;p


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