Sites and Environments

At WP Engine, a “site” refers to a group of up to three environments: production, staging, and development. Despite being grouped visually in the User Portal, these environments functionally operate independently, so site managers never have to worry about changes to one environment impacting another.

For example, if a production website has an issue, copy to staging and troubleshoot and resolve the issue securely on a separate installation of WordPress. Alternatively, use development to create and test a new design, then copy those changes to production.

With sites and environments, development workflows are enhanced by becoming more visible, flexible, and secure.


About Sites

A site can be thought of as an organizational “container” for up to three related, but physically separated, installations of WordPress. This streamlines the process of organizing and deploying related environments for a website during development stages and ongoing testing processes.

Create Site

  1. Log in to the User Portal
  2. On the Sites page, click Add Site
  1. What type of site would you like to add? Select Get Started below one of the following options:
  1. Site Owner – Select the account for the new site (if your user has access to multiple hosting accounts) and whether or not the site should be transferable.
    • (Most common) I will own it – The site will be created as billable on the current account.
    • Someone else will own it – Create the site as transferable, to be added to the current plan as non-billable
  1. Click Next
  2. Site Details – Define details for this site as well as the first environment within the site.
    • Site Name – The site’s name does not need to be unique and can be changed later
    • Type – Select what type the first environment will be assigned within this site. Each site can include up to three environments:
      • PRD (Production) – Intended to be taken live. Allows a custom domain to be added, as well as SSL and CDN.
      • STG (Staging) – Optional sandbox, typically used for testing. Cannot be taken live.
      • DEV (Development) – Optional sandbox, typically used for testing. Cannot be taken live.
    • Environment Name – Name the first environment within the new site. The name must be unique and cannot have been used before.
  3. Click Add Site

That’s it! The site and new environment will begin setting up. An email will be sent once the setup has completed.


Edit Site Name

A site name can be changed any time and does not have to be unique. Additionally, site names can contain certain special characters (likes spaces or parenthesis).

Option 1

  1. Open the Sites page in the User Portal
  2. Next to the site name, expand the Settings menu icon
  3. Select Edit site name
  4. Fill in a new site name
  5. Click Save changes

Option 2

  1. Open the Sites page in the User Portal
  2. Click the site name or any environment name within the site
  3. Next to the site name at the top of the page, expand the Settings menu icon
  4. Click Edit site
  5. Fill in a new site name
  6. Click Edit site to save

Delete Site

Deleting a site also deletes every environment (PRD, DEV, STG) within it. Be sure any backups are downloaded or copies are created before deleting a site. There are two ways in which a site can be deleted.

Only “Owner” level User Portal users can delete Sites.

NOTE

Environment names cannot be reused, even when the original environment has been deleted (i.e. environmentname.wpengine.com).

Option 1

  1. Open the Sites page in the User Portal
  2. Locate the site name to delete and expand the Settings menu icon
  3. Select Delete site
  4. Confirm deletion by typing the site name

Option 2

  1. Open the Sites page in the User Portal
  2. Click the site name or any environment name within the site
  3. Next to the site name, expand the Settings menu icon
  4. Select Delete site
  5. Confirm deletion by typing the name of the site

About Environments

Environments are individual and completely separate instances of WordPress. Environments operate independently and without impacting other environments within the site. Each site can have up to one environment of each type, for a total of three environments per site.

The three types of environments are:

Production (PRD) – An environment type that’s intended to be taken live.

  • All plans can add custom domains to Production environments to allow the environment to receive live and organic traffic.
  • Global Edge Security and Advanced Network (including relevant features) can be applied when using a custom domain.

Staging (STG) – Recommend for use when testing minor changes, such as plugin updates.

  • Shared plans (Lite, Startup, Growth, Scale) – Custom domains cannot be added to Staging. Due to this, Advanced Network and Global Edge Security (including some relevant features) cannot be applied.
  • Premium plans – Custom domains can be added to Staging. Therefore, Global Edge Security and Advanced Network (including relevant features) can also be applied when using a custom domain.

Development (DEV) – Recommended for use when developing larger changes, such as building out a new theme.

  • Shared Plans (Lite, Startup, Growth, Scale) – Custom domains cannot be added to Development.
    • Due to this, Advanced Network and Global Edge Security (including some relevant features) cannot be applied.
  • Premium Plans – Custom domains can be added to Development. Therefore, Global Edge Security and Advanced Network (including relevant features) can also be applied when using a custom domain.

When viewing any environment within the User Portal, the site name the environment is grouped within will display at the top. The alternate environments can then be accessed using the top navigation dropdown or secondary navigation menu.

Environments are also useful for keeping test sites grouped with their main site, and will populate when using the copying an environment in the User Portal. Learn more about using the Copy Environment tool here.

Domains

Each environment will use the same default URL structure: environmentname.wpengine.com where environmentname is the unique name given to the environment.

For shared plans (Lite, Startup, Growth, Scale) only the Production environment can have a live, custom domain added. On Premium plans, any of the three environments can have a custom domain added to it.

It is standard for Staging and Development environments to use different domains than the Production environment. If using a premium service that issues license based on domain, additional licenses may need to be purchased for each environment. Alternatively, inquire about staging services- Some premium services that authenticate based on domain will also offer a staging mode.

Server Configuration and Media

Each environment has the same default server configuration and caching, which make them useful for accurate testing and building.

Be aware that WP Engine configurations (those typically done in the User Portal) will not be copied when using the Copy Environment tool. This includes:

  • Redirect Rules – Reach out to Support to have redirects copied.
  • Cache Exclusions (custom) – Reach out to Support to have redirects copied.
  • SSL Certificates – Reach out to Support to have SSL certificates copied.
  • Web Rules – Can be duplicated from the User Portal. Learn more.
  • Nginx Rules – Reach out to Support to have Nginx rules copied.

When using LargeFS, media is stored off-site which means these files cannot be copied by our server. A fall-back rule can be put in place by Support on any necessary Staging/Development environments, or media can be copied in Amazon S3.

NOTE

Need a dedicated server environment just for testing? Reach out to our team for options.


Add Environment

When a site is first created, a new environment will be added to it as part of the setup process. An email is sent once the environment has been set up. If copying from an existing environment, this process can take some time to complete.

Only one environment of each type can be added to a site: Production (PRD), Staging (STG), Development (DEV). The options shown below may vary based on which environments already exist within the selected site.

An additional environment can be added to a site using three methods. (Don’t have a site? Learn how to add one here.)

Option 1

  1. Open the Sites page in the User Portal
  2. Click the site name or any environment name within the site
  3. Expand the dropdown next to the environment name at the top
  4. Select Add production environment, Add staging environment or Add development environment

Fill in a name, environment type, and other setup options. An email will be sent once the environment has completed the setup process. If copying from an existing environment, this process can take some time to complete.

Option 2

  1. Open the Sites page in the User Portal
  2. Click the site name or any environment name within the site
  3. In the secondary navigation menu, select Add Production, Add Staging or Add Development

Fill in a name, environment type, and other setup options. An email will be sent once the environment has completed the setup process. If copying from an existing environment, this process can take some time to complete.

Option 3

  1. Open the Sites page in the User Portal
  2. Next to the site name, click the Settings icon
  3. Select Add environment

Fill in a name, environment type, and other setup options. Then select the type of environment (Production, Staging, or Development).

An email will be sent once the environment has completed the setup process. If copying from an existing environment, this process can take some time to complete.


Delete Environment

Deleting an environment will not impact any other environments on the account or within the site. Before deleting an environment be sure to download a backup point. For security purposes, only Owner level users can delete environments.

Environment names cannot be reused, even when the original environment has been deleted.

There are two ways to delete an environment:

Option 1

  1. Open the Sites page of the User Portal
  2. Next to the environment name, expand 3 dot quick actions menu
  3. Select Delete environment
  4. Confirm deletion by typing the name of the environment

Option 2

  1. Open the Sites page of the User Portal
  2. Click on the environment name
  3. Expand the Quick actions menu
  4. Select Delete environment
  5. Confirm deletion by typing the name of the environment

NEXT STEP: Learn how to copy an environment

Need more Sites?

Each Site includes Development, Staging, and Production environments. Get more Sites for your account as an add-on without upgrading your whole hosting plan.