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How To Safely Give Support Staff Access To Your WordPress Site

Here’s a really common scenario: you have an e-commerce WordPress site, and one of the add-ons for your e-commerce plugin is misbehaving.  You contact plugin support, and they say, “Oh, we can fix that – just let us log in to your site and we’ll take care of it!”

Or, there’s a new feature you want to add to your site, but you aren’t sure how to do it. You mention this at a meetup, and someone at the meetup says, “Hey, I can do that for you!  Send me the login info for your site and I’ll do it!”

In an ideal world, you’ll give these helpful people a user account on your site, and they’ll log in and do what they promised, and your site will be better than ever. But we all know that we don’t live in an ideal world… what if you visit your site to discover it is broken, and then get an email from the support person saying, “Oops, I broke it, can you give me FTP access?”  What if the kindly volunteer at your meetup turns out to be a novice and they accidentally delete a bunch of your data?  Or, worst of all, what if weeks after sharing login information, you start to notice suspicious activity on your site?  Is there any safe way you can give people access to your WordPress site?

This is a great use for a staging site.  A staging site is an exact copy of your live site.  You can use a staging site to test out changes to your site, or to troubleshoot problems.  You can also create user accounts on your staging site, so that someone can access your staging site, but not your live site.  That way, a support person or someone who is helping you with your site can do anything they need to do without affecting your live site.  If they make changes that you want on your live site, you can import your changes from your staging site to your live site. 

Any time anyone asks for access to your website, whether you know and trust them or not, it is always a good idea to create a staging site and give them access to the staging site instead.  That way, if things go wrong, your live site will not be affected.

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