The Ultimate Guide to Cloning Your WordPress Website With Duplicator (2023)

Are you looking to clone your WordPress website but not sure where to start? Whether you want to migrate your site to a new host, set up a local development environment, or just keep a backup, cloning WordPress is an essential skill for any website owner.

Fortunately, with the right tools, cloning a WordPress site doesn‘t have to be a headache – even if you‘re not particularly tech-savvy. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll show you step-by-step how to use the free Duplicator plugin to easily clone your entire WordPress website in minutes.

Why Clone Your WordPress Site?

As of 2023, WordPress powers over 40% of all websites on the internet, making it by far the most popular content management system globally (Source). With so many people relying on WordPress, it‘s important to know how to safely clone or migrate your site when the need arises.

Here are just a few of the many scenarios where you might need to clone your WordPress site:

1. Changing Web Hosts 🏠

One of the most common reasons to clone WordPress is when you‘re changing web hosting providers. Whether you‘re unhappy with your current host‘s performance, support, pricing, or features, migrating lets you move your site to a new server without starting over.

In fact, 61% of WordPress users have moved their website to a new host at least once, and the #1 reason they cite is poor customer support, followed by performance issues (Source).

2. Local WordPress Development πŸ’»

Experienced WordPress developers know that it‘s risky to make significant changes, like editing code or testing new plugins, directly on a live production website. Instead, you can clone your site to a local development environment to safely build and test updates before pushing to production.

Over 50% of developers prefer to test new WordPress features locally before deploying the changes to the live site (Source). Local development lets you experiment with code without the risk of crashing your live site.

3. Syncing Staging & Production Environments πŸ”„

In addition to local development, many WordPress devs rely on staging environments to test changes. A staging site is essentially a clone of your live production site in a separate environment.

After verifying updates work correctly on the staging site, you can "push" the changes to the live production site. 56% of developers have a staging environment for their WordPress site, in addition to their local dev and live production servers (Source).

4. Creating Backup Copies πŸ’Ύ

Of course, one of the smartest reasons to clone your WordPress site is to keep a backup copy. While most web hosts offer some form of backup service, it‘s always wise to follow the 3-2-1 backup rule by keeping multiple copies of your site in different locations.

With a full clone of your WordPress site, you can quickly spin up a working copy if something ever goes wrong with your live site. Only 31% of WordPress sites are backed up daily, while over 25% are backed up rarely or never, putting those site owners at risk of catastrophic data loss (Source).

Why Use Duplicator to Clone WordPress? πŸ€”

Now that you know why you should clone your WordPress site, the next question is how? While there are a number of WordPress backup and migration plugins available, we believe Duplicator is the best choice for most users to clone a WordPress site. Here‘s why:

  1. πŸ†“ It‘s 100% free with no limitations or ads
  2. πŸ‘Ά Easy enough for WordPress beginners to use
  3. 🧳 Bundles your WordPress files & database together
  4. ⭐ 4.9/5.0 rating with over 1 million active installs
  5. πŸ’Έ Pro version available for advanced features like scheduled backups
  6. πŸ“š Extensive documentation & guides for troubleshooting

Of course, you don‘t have to take our word for it. Here‘s what one happy Duplicator user had to say:

"I‘ve used Duplicator on dozens of sites, and it‘s saved me hours of work. Being able to migrate an entire WordPress site with just a few clicks is a huge timesaver. Plus, I love that I can create a backup copy to experiment with changes before applying them to my live site. Duplicator belongs in every WordPress user‘s toolkit." – Emily Standfield, WordPress developer

So what exactly makes Duplicator so much easier than cloning a WordPress site manually? Instead of having to deal with manually exporting & importing your database, zipping up files via FTP, and other tedious steps, Duplicator bundles everything into a single package.

When you‘re ready to migrate or restore that clone, Duplicator automates the entire process through a user-friendly installer wizard. You don‘t need to be a WordPress expert to use Duplicator – it‘s designed to make cloning simple for users of all skill levels.

How to Clone Your WordPress Site with Duplicator (Step-by-Step) 🧰

Alright, now that you‘re sold on using Duplicator to clone your WordPress site, let‘s dive into the step-by-step instructions. For this tutorial, we‘ll assume you already have a WordPress site up and running that you want to clone.

We‘ll break the cloning process down into three main phases:

  1. Creating your site package
  2. Copying the package to the destination server
  3. Running the installer to unpack your clone

Let‘s get started!

Step 1: Create Your WordPress Package πŸ“¦

The first step is to create what Duplicator calls a "package" – essentially a bundle containing all your WordPress files (plugins, themes, media uploads, etc.) and your database all zipped up into a single file.

To create your package, follow these simple steps:

  1. πŸ”Œ Install & activate the free Duplicator plugin on your source WordPress site
  2. πŸ†• From your WP dashboard, go to Duplicator > Packages and click the "Create New" button
  3. 🏷️ Give your package a name (this is just for your reference) & click "Next"
  4. 🩺 Click "Build" to generate your package files

Duplicator will start bundling up your WordPress files and database into a single package archive. This may take a few minutes depending on the size of your site.

Once the process completes, you should see a "Package Completed" success message. You‘ll also see two important files listed:

  1. πŸ—„οΈ Archive zip file (
  2. πŸ› οΈ Installer file (installer.php)

Click the download icons next to both the Installer and the Archive files to save them to your local machine. These are the only two files you need to clone your site – the Archive contains all your WordPress files & data, while the Installer unpacks the Archive. Pretty simple, right?

Step 2: Copy Package to Destination Server 🚚

Now that you‘ve generated your Duplicator package files, it‘s time to get them onto the server where you want to set up your cloned WordPress site.

The exact steps will depend on your hosting setup, but there are two main approaches:

  1. πŸ”Œ Upload files via FTP (FileZilla, etc)
  2. πŸ†™ Upload files through host control panel (cPanel File Manager)

Whichever method you use, you need to get the Installer and Archive files into the directory on the destination server where you want to install the clone. For example, if you‘re setting up the cloned site as the main site on a domain, you‘d upload the files to the root public_html or www folder.

Important: You do NOT need to set up a fresh WordPress install on the destination server. The Duplicator installer file will take care of setting up WordPress for you. In fact, installing WordPress separately can sometimes cause issues with Duplicator, so it‘s better to let the installer do its thing.

Step 3: Run Installer to Unpack Your Clone πŸ”§

If you thought the first two steps were easy, get ready for the easiest part yet! With your Duplicator package files uploaded to your destination directory, you‘re ready to run the installer file to unpack your cloned site.

Simply navigate to the installer.php file in your browser. For example, if you uploaded the files to the root folder for, go to:

If you did everything correctly so far, you should see the Duplicator Installer Wizard come up in your browser. This handy tool will guide you through a few quick steps to get your cloned WordPress site extracted and set up:

  1. πŸ”‘ Accept the terms & notice
  2. πŸ—„οΈ Validate the archive file
  3. πŸ› οΈ Enter database connection details

The database step is where you tell Duplicator where to set up the cloned site‘s WordPress database. If you‘re cloning the site to the same server, you‘ll need to create a new database (cPanel makes this easy) and enter the details.

If you‘re cloning the site to a fresh server, you can likely use the main database that was set up for you automatically, unless your host gave you specific database credentials.

Once you‘ve entered the database details, click the "Test Database" button to verify the connection works. Assuming it does, you can move on to the next step:

  1. 🌐 Update the site URL & path

This is where you can update the destination URL if you‘re cloning the site to a new domain. Be sure to use the correct protocol (http:// or https://) to avoid mixed content issues.

Click "Next" and you should see a success message that "Step 3 is complete." πŸŽ‰

  1. 🧹 Review final report & remove installer files

After the installer wizard runs, it will show you a final report with some important information:

  • πŸ“Š Tables created, files scanned, etc
  • πŸ“‹ Any SQL statements that were run
  • ⚠️ Any errors or warnings (hopefully none!)

Be sure to click the "Remove Installation Files" button on this final screen. This deletes the installer.php and other Duplicator files, which you definitely don‘t want to leave on your server for security reasons.

Duplicator should automatically redirect you to the WordPress admin login page after removing the installation files. If not, you can manually go to /wp-admin/ on your cloned site.

🚨 If you‘re cloning over an existing site, you may need to clear your browser cache at this point to see the cloned site appear, as your browser may be holding onto cached files from the old site.

Testing & Verifying Your Cloned WordPress Site πŸ”

Congratulations, you should now have a fully functional clone of your WordPress site! But before you pop the champagne, it‘s important to thoroughly test the cloned site to make sure everything is working as expected.

Here are some key items to check after cloning your WordPress site with Duplicator:

  • βœ… Overall site appearance (is your theme styling applied correctly?)
  • πŸ”Œ Plugin functionality (do your forms, SEO tools, sliders, etc still work?)
  • πŸ–ΌοΈ Media uploads (are all your images, videos, etc displaying properly?)
  • πŸ”— Internal links (are all your internal links pointing to the correct URLs?)
  • πŸ’¬ Comments (if you have comments on your site, did they transfer over?)

Depending on your specific WordPress setup, there may be other elements to check. The main idea is to click through your cloned site as a visitor would and verify that everything looks & functions how you expect.

If you do notice any issues with your cloned site, don‘t panic! Assuming you‘ve kept your original site intact, you can always re-clone it or restore a backup.

In our experience, most problems with a cloned WordPress site come down to one of three issues:

  1. πŸ”— Incorrect URLs in the cloned database
  2. πŸ”‘ License key activation issues for premium plugins/themes
  3. ⏰ Timeout during the cloning process due to limited server resources

To fix URLs, you can use a database search & replace tool like the Better Search Replace plugin to quickly update all instances of the old URL to the new one directly in the database.

For license key issues, you may need to reactivate your premium plugin or theme license keys on the cloned site. In some cases, developers restrict licenses to a single URL, so you might need to purchase an additional license or contact their support team for assistance.

If you suspect a timeout issue due to limited server memory or other constraints, you may have better luck cloning the site locally (using MAMP, WAMP, Local by Flywheel, etc) and then moving the local clone to your live server.

Alternatives to Duplicator for Cloning WordPress βš–οΈ

While we think Duplicator is the best all-around tool for cloning a WordPress site, it‘s certainly not the only option out there. Here‘s a quick rundown of some of the most popular alternatives, along with their key features & pricing:

Tool Free Version Key Pro Features Pricing
All-in-One WP Migration βœ”οΈ Unlimited size, multisite, incremental backups $69/year
UpdraftPlus βœ”οΈ Scheduled backups, more storage destinations $70/year
WP Clone by WP Academy βœ”οΈ Backup scheduling, email notifications $79/year
Jetpack Backup ❌ Real-time backups, one-click restores $10/month
ManageWP ❌ 1-click updates, performance checks, security scans $6/month

So which route should you go? If you‘re on a tight budget, Duplicator‘s generous free version is hard to beat. For more advanced users managing multiple sites, something like ManageWP could be worth the investment to simplify your workflow.

Mastering WordPress Cloning Wizard πŸ§™β€β™‚οΈ

Whatever solution you land on, the real magic of WordPress cloning & migration all comes down to three core steps:

  1. πŸ—„οΈ Package – Bundle up your entire WordPress site‘s files & database
  2. ✈️ Transfer – Move the packaged files to the destination server
  3. πŸ”§ Deploy – Run the installer to unpack the files & import the database

Whether you use a plugin like Duplicator or opt for a manual approach, going through this process will give you a much better understanding of the different components that power a WordPress site under the hood.

By getting hands-on with cloning WordPress, you‘ll be better prepared next time you face a tricky migration or need to quickly spin up a backup copy of your site.

Conclusion 🏁

If you‘ve made it this far, we hope you feel much more confident about cloning & migrating WordPress sites! With powerful tools like Duplicator, anyone can move an entire WordPress site safely in a matter of minutes.

For your next cloning project, keep these key takeaways in mind:

  • 🧳 Use Duplicator (or similar) to bundle your WP files & DB
  • 🚚 Always test a cloned site thoroughly before going live
  • πŸ’Ύ Keep a backup of the original site as insurance
  • ❌ Delete installer files on the cloned site ASAP for security

Whether you‘re a blogger, freelancer, or manage a huge WP multisite network, you never know when you might need to clone a WordPress site. Master the process now, and future you will thank you when the situation inevitably arises.

Do you have any other tips for cloning WordPress sites? What‘s the most challenging migration you‘ve ever tackled? Leave a comment below and keep the conversation going!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.