When you use WP Stagecoach, your staging site will be on a different server than your live site. We get a lot of questions about why staging sites run on our servers instead of on the same server as your live site. There are advantages and disadvantages to having your staging site on a different server.
Server Environment: The biggest disadvantage to having your staging site on a different server is that the site might behave differently. If the servers are configured differently (different versions of PHP or MySQL, different PHP extensions running), then you might see some differences between the two sites. WordPress’s commitment to backwards-compatibility generally means that this isn’t a problem: WordPress is designed to run on many different versions of PHP. In the thousands of staging sites we have seen on WP Stagecoach, only a tiny handful have behaved differently due to the different server.
Speed: You are also likely to notice differences in speed between the live server and the staging server. If you are working on optimizing for speed, you will see more reliable results if your staging site is on the same server.
Importing: In the case of WP Stagecoach, all of the scripts that make it possible to import your changes from the staging site to the live site run on the staging server. These scripts couldn’t run on your web host, because they require more server access than most web hosts give to their clients. So to be able to do imports without using the command line, your staging site needs to run on our servers.
Server Environment: You can determine if your server environment is causing a problem on your site by copying your site to a different server. Several times, I have made a staging copy of a client’s site to diagnose why their site is getting errors, and have found that the errors don’t happen on the staging server. Those clients then asked their web hosts to update the software on their servers, and their errors went away.
Resources: If your web server has limited resources, putting your staging site on a different server means that you don’t have two copies of one site using up all of those resources.
Offsite backup: WP Stagecoach shouldn’t be your only offsite backup, especially since your media files are usually not transferred to the staging server. However, as a last resort, it can be a useful offsite backup. One WP Stagecoach customer’s live site was hacked, and she was able to import her staging site and remove the hacker’s work.
There are pros and cons to running your staging site on a different server. In the case of WP Stagecoach, the advantages (especially the ability to import your changes) outweigh the disadvantages.