How to use "Duplicator – WordPress Migration Plugin" to migrate development site to live site?

There are several ways to migrate a WordPress site from Development server to a live / production server. The traditional way is to manually move the files to the live server via FTP or Host's File Manager and import the database. But that requires some manual editing in the database - updating the URL etc. While it is not so difficult if done meticulously, it may be easier if we use a GUI based tool to assist us in the process. In this post we shall see How to use "Duplicator – WordPress Migration Plugin" to migrate development site to live site? The same process can be used for migrating a WordPress site from one host to another if required.

If you are looking to migrate WordPress the traditional way, you may explore these earlier posts:

How to use "Duplicator – WordPress Migration Plugin" to migrate development site to live site?

The plugin we would be using for this process is : Duplicator – WordPress Migration Plugin

What can we do with Duplicator WordPress Plugin:
  •     Move, migrate or clone a WordPress site between domains or hosts with zero downtime
  •     Pull down a live site to localhost for development
  •     Transfer a WordPress site from one host to another
  •     Manually backup a WordPress site or parts of a site
  •     Duplicate a live site to a staging area or vice versa
  •     Bundle up an entire WordPress site for easy reuse or distribution
  •     Perform a full WordPress migration without struggling with messy import/export sql scripts
What does Duplicator do:

After installing the Duplicator plugin, you can use Duplicator to create a package that bundles all the site’s plugins, themes, content, database and WordPress files into a simple zip file called a package. This package can then be used to easily migrate a WordPress site to any location you wish. Move on the same server, across servers and any location a WordPress site can be hosted.

Note: WordPress (setup file) is not required for installation since the package contains all site files.

Let's see step by step How to use "Duplicator – WordPress Migration Plugin" to migrate development site to live site?

Actions required on the source site (development server)
  • Login to WordPress and install the Duplicator – WordPress Migration Plugin from Plugins > Add New
  • Activate the plugin
  • Explore the settings if necessary
  • From WordPress Dashboard > Duplicator Menu> Run the Duplicator
  • Create a New Package - edit the package name if needed

  • Some settings when creating a New Package
    • Storage: Local (Cloud options available in Pro Version) //the files are stored in the local director of the web host. In this case, C:/xampp/htdocs/websitename/wp-snapshots
    • Archive > Files: No need to edit. However, if you want the package size to be smaller, then you may choose database only. This will exclude the website files, which then have to be moved manually to the live server via FTP etc. (good for budget hosts).
    • Archive > Database: You have the options to disable some database tables which you do not require to include in the exported package. This is not recommended, as some tables compulsorily required by the WordPress website may break the website. Choose this only if you know what you are doing. If you want, you may login to phpMyAdmin prior to creating the package to truncate some log related database tables. This would reduce the package size significantly.
    • Installer: Includes settings to set Host, Host Port, Database Name, Database User. These are optional. Ideally, leave them blank.
  • Click NEXT
  • The Duplicator plugin will scan the site and display the results of the scan.


  • If any issues are detected, it will be displayed for your attention. Take corrective measures if necessary.
  • Note: If the package size to be is large, check your website folder if there are any unnecessary files. Sometimes, we may leave setup files, unused images, unused themes and plugins etc. within the website root directory. Such files may be removed. If necessary move those files manually to the live server later. 
  • Next, click BUILD to build the package
  • After the build process is completed, Duplicator will present the files to download. This includes:
    • The Installed (a PHP file)
    • The Archive
  • Download both the files above to your computer.

This completes the steps required on the source server.
Next we need to put the files on the production server and initiate the process to restore the website on the live server.

Actions required on the destination site (live server)
  • Connect to the live server via the web-host control panel / file manager or via FTP.
  • Locate the root folder for the live website - Eg: htdocs, www etc.
  • Upload the files (Installer and Archive) downloaded from the Duplicator to the root of the live server
  • Run the installer
    • If the files are places at the root of the website, Open a browser and browse http://your-site/installer.php
  • The Duplicator Installer will validate the files and display the result (PASS / FAIL / WARN). If all is well, proceed to the next step.
  • Accept the terms and click NEXT
  • Duplicator will then extract the archive
  • Install database: This is where we have to configure the database. Provide the database details such as name, user etc.

  • Click NEXT
  • Update data: This is where the URL and Title of the website is displayed for confirmation. You may edit wherever necessary.
  • Update Data > Options: You can create a new Admin account for the WordPress website here if necessary. Otherwise, the same Admin account from the source site will still be available to use.
  • Update Data > Scan Options: Here we can choose to activate all or deactivate some plugins if necessary.
    • Note: If the website uses some security plugins / firewalls, it is a good idea to disable those plugins for now as there may be login issues. 
    • When migrating from live to localhost, Google Captcha related plugins should be deactivate. Otherwise, at the login screen, Google Captcha will not work on localhost and Admin will not be able to login. Then, we will need to deactivate the plugin manually by renaming the plugin folder.
  • Click Next
  • Test Site
    • Click on "Admin Login" button to log in to the WordPress website
    • Login with the Username and Password to check if you can login
  • After logging in to the WordPress Dashboard, check if there are any updates for WordPress Core, plugins, themes etc. Apply updates if there are.
  • Enable plugins which you disabled if any.
Workarounds for errors:
1) If Archive file is large
If the Archive file size if large, there may be issues creating the Package from the Source itself if the PHP settings are exceed. Similarly, there could be issues in importing the Archive by the Duplicator in the live server. 

In such cases, you may:

a) Try all possible ways to reduce the size of the archive by removing unused Themes, Plugins, and other files that may be lying within the root of the source website. If necessary, keep them separately and manually upload to the live server.

b) Include only the database in the Duplicator package. 
And manually move the website files to the live server. Even after that, if the database size is also large, then you may truncate some log related tables from phpMyAdmin before creating the Duplicator package.
As mentioned above, WordPress websites can be migrated easily in the traditional way also. However, using a tool like Duplicator streamlines the entire process and it makes it a lot easier to migrate using a tool like Duplicator.

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