Hosting WordPress

The Problem with SiteGround’s Staging Sites


Written by

Dave Warfel

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7 minutes

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I was in the middle of writing a comprehensive SiteGround review when I found myself trying out their staging sites for the first time. I’ve had a great experience with their platform so far, but this is one area in which their managed WordPress hosting failed to live up to my expectations.

NOTE: To be clear, this is only an issue if you manage your DNS somewhere other than SiteGround. As several commenters have pointed out, if you point your DNS to SiteGround’s servers, their staging works perfectly.

Keep in mind, I’m a web developer who manages multiple sites. The following frustration and critique of SiteGround’s staging sites is from a web developer’s perspective.

If you don’t need staging sites, or would never be logging into your hosting control panel anyway, SiteGround provides excellent performance & support for small WordPress sites on a budget.

In fact, their intro level plan doesn’t even offer staging, and is available at 60% OFF, for just $3.95/mo.

But if you manage WordPress sites, and have the need for WordPress staging, let this post be a warning. SiteGround’s staging feature is not nearly as easy to use as staging on other WordPress hosts.

I’m using one of my sites,, as the example throughout this post.

Here’s what I cover in this post:

The Use of Sub-Domains

The problem with SiteGround staging starts with their use of sub-domains. They take your site’s domain and create a sub-domain of (The X represents an incremental number.) This is where your staging site lives.

Now, this is easy to type into your address bar, and it certainly looks a lot nicer than (which WP Engine uses for their staging sites), but it comes with a huge caveat.

You have to update your DNS records in order to access your staging site.

With that alone, I struggle to see the “managed” part of their managed WordPress hosting. Not to mention, SiteGround markets this feature as “one-click staging.” You don’t want to know how many clicks it took to get to the center of my WordPress staging site!

SiteGround's one-click WordPress staging

If you manage your domain/DNS with SiteGround, your DNS will be updated automatically. However, most people (myself included) agree that you should never manage your DNS & hosting with the same company, for numerous reasons.

So, that’s problem #1.

I went ahead & created an A record for, just as SiteGround’s documentation stated.

On to problem #2…

Invalid SSL Certificate

Through their integration with Let’s Encrypt, SiteGround generates a free SSL upon the creation of a staging site. In theory, this is great. In order to create a true staging environment, if your live site uses an SSL, your staging site should as well.

It’s not clear whether a certificate is always generated for staging sites, or only when the live site is using https. We should all be serving our sites over https now anyway, so I’m going to assume you’re in the https boat.

The problem lies in the fact that my live site redirects non-www traffic to SiteGround confirmed that if your live site uses www, your staging site will, too.

This means my staging site is actually located at However, the SSL was automatically generated for (without the www).

These are two different domains. The version with the preceding www does not have an SSL certificate associated with it, but SiteGround’s server is still redirecting to it.

Browser Warnings

Google Chrome, one of the leaders in the push for a more secure web (https everywhere), makes it clear that no SSL certificate exists for the www-version of my staging site.

Google Chrome certificate not valid warning
Google Chrome’s “Your connection is not private” warning

Now, this is only a staging site, so I could just click “proceed,” knowing that my site isn’t actually secure. I would have little concern for my own security (although I am still submitting a username & password to make changes in the WordPress Admin area). So sure, that is an option. But should it be this complicated?

Firefox & Safari browsers originally showed internal server errors, but after some time (and DNS propagation), they provide the same warnings as Google Chrome.

Speaking of DNS propagation… problem #3.

Waiting for Propagation

Simply put, I shouldn’t have to wait for DNS propagation just to access my staging site. It’s 2017, and there’s definitely a better way.

There are countless sites that allow you to instantly spin up a sandbox site for testing WordPress themes, plugins & all manner of different online tools. There’s no reason why SiteGround can’t find a faster, more efficient way to setup a staging site.

While we’re on the topic of DNS…

DNS Changes

Requiring someone to add a new A record to their DNS server is not “one-click.” In fact, for the beginning web designer, or the non-technical business owner, it’s outright dangerous. DNS records can take down entire websites, or an entire company’s email offline.

When DNS is managed elsewhere, SiteGround can’t offer much assistance. And with that being the recommended way to manage DNS+hosting, it leaves a lot of folks on their own to try and figure out how to create an A record when they have no clue what DNS even means.

I should also mention that I had to create two DNS entries. One for staging1, and another for www.staging1.

Staging No Longer Needed

Another downside in all of this—when the staging site is no longer needed, I have to go back into my DNS and delete the A record(s).

Check that… I don’t have to, but I don’t love the idea of erroneous DNS records floating around. And I don’t see the point in leaving a staging sub-domain active if no one is using it.

SiteGround Staging on WordPress Multisite

It simply doesn’t work. See the comment below from Mau. He said SiteGround support even confirmed that staging sites don’t work with Multisite.

While I’m sure a small minority of customers on SiteGround are using WordPress Multisite, it would still be nice if staging sites were supported.

Wrapping Up

At the end of the day, I got my staging site setup. It required a little extra effort on my part, and a 20-minute chat with SiteGround support, but it wasn’t a huge deal. It’s still not protected by an SSL certificate, but that’s also not the end of the world.

What I learned… and you should be aware of

If quick’n’easy staging sites are on your must-have list, you might want to look elsewhere.

You might have some clients who don’t give you access to their DNS. Imagine having to reach out to your client and ask them to create a temporary A record so you can make some updates to your site. Don’t they pay you so that they don’t have to be bothered with that kind of stuff?

Or if you have to create staging sites for a handful of clients, on a day where you’re applying a WordPress core update. If you don’t already have the DNS management logins for all those clients, you have to chase down those account credentials.

I realize these scenarios might not apply to all SiteGround customers. I’m not really sure how many others will agree with my frustrations. Are they warranted? Have you felt the same way when creating a SiteGround staging site? I’d love to hear your take in the comments.

And SiteGround, if you’re listening, I’d love to hear if you have any plans to improve your staging feature. In terms of value, you guys offer the best performance & support that 4 dollars/mo. can buy. There’s a lot to like about your product.

But several other WordPress hosts, especially those with custom control panels, clearly outperform your WordPress staging experience.

Dave Warfel

LinkedIn  •  X (Twitter)Dave has been working with WordPress since 2011. He's built 100s of client sites and almost a dozen of his own. He's tested almost every plugin you can think of, hosted with at least 10 different companies, and gone down every SEO rabbit hole you can imagine. When's he's not tinkering with new software, you'll find him in the mountains of Colorado, trail running, summiting peaks, and rippin' downhills on his mountain bike. 🏔️🏃🚴🤸

81 responses to “The Problem with SiteGround’s Staging Sites”

  1. Greig Avatar

    Hi Dave, I stumbled across your article when looking for advice on updating the WP core whilst a staging environment is in place.

    I’ve only tinkered with the SG staging environment a few times but I’m yet to experience the concerns you have above? I have one live at present and am able to make access the staging platform and make changes without touching DNS in any way.

    I would take the same attitude to SSL as you and just wing it, but in looking at the Let’s Encrypt section of cPanel I can see that an SSL certificate has been issued automatically, hence I don’t get any warnings from my browser.

    I’m very much the target market for your article: intermediate knowledge of WP and hosting = just enough to be dangerous, haha!

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hey Greig — I really appreciate you chiming in here, and offering up your own example. Would you be willing to provide the domain you are referring to, as well as the staging sub-domain that you’re using?

      I’d like to test the staging site out on my end (to test the SSL), as well as look at the public DNS records. I will then try to provide my thoughts on your situation, and how/why it might be different from my experience.

      If you’d rather keep this info between me & you, you can email me instead: [email protected].

  2. Eoin Avatar

    I’ve not had any of these problems either, but that’s because I use Sitegrounds name servers. I assume you host your email elsewhere in which case that’s fine. But in that case you have to update your a records. If you use name servers then you do not have to do that. Or wait for propogation.

    I think the Let’s Encrypt thing is fixed now because I don’t have that issue either.

    I don’t know what the better solution is that you talk of. Can you tell us?

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hi Eoin,

      What’s your website’s address? Are you using www or no www?

      You are 100% correct that if you use SiteGround’s DNS, you won’t need to create any A records, or wait for propagation.

      However, as I mentioned in the article, I don’t think anyone should manage both DNS and hosting with the same provider (read some of these). Essentially, if their service gets hacked or platform goes down, EVERYTHING goes down (your website, email, everything). But if your hosting company has an outage, and you manage your DNS elsewhere, you can update your DNS to point to another hosting service (and email service), and prevent additional downtime for your website, and still use your email.

      The Let’s Encrypt issue was present because my main site redirects to the www version. If yours does not use www, then you will not experience any issue with the SSL.

      As for the better solution… there really isn’t any other way to set things up using SiteGround staging. If you manage many sites for your clients, and staging is an integral part of your development workflow, you might find yourself changing a ton of DNS records.

      The only solution at that point would be to choose a different host–one that makes staging sites easier to deal with (Kinsta or Flywheel are my recommendations there).

  3. richard Avatar

    Thanks for your article – have had some of the same issues regarding the dns.

    My question is in regards to pushing changes from staging to live – I have been working on a staging site for awhile and there have been fairly substantial changes to custom post types, field groups etc. I’m wondering if anybody has experienced any issues when pushing changes live? Are there things to watch out for as far as structural site changes? Thanks for any input

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hi Richard — Unfortunately, I don’t have any first-hand insight. I only tried out the staging-to-live push one time, and it was one simple text change to a test site. Like you, I would also be nervous to push a large amount of changes.

      The advice I can give you is this:

      • Make a reliable backup right before pushing your changes. I recommend using UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy or VaultPress, as they all have reliable restore options if something goes wrong.
      • If you allow for user-generated content (blog comments, forum posts, etc.), put a maintenance page up before you push your changes, that way no new content can be added that might get lost when you push. I recommend SeedProd’s Coming Soon plugin.
        ** To clarify, you should put up a maintenance page before you even copy your live site to staging in the first place. Maintenance Mode > Copy to Staging > Make Changes > Push to Live > Disable Maintenance Mode… or just use the fantastic mergebot plugin.
      • Push the changes during your lowest traffic day/time. Hopefully you have some analytics installed so you can check that.

      If you decide to go for it, best of luck, and I’d love it if you would come back and share a brief description of how it went for you. That could help others have confidence in SiteGround’s staging platform when they go to push a lot of changes.

  4. Kay @ Digitelle Avatar
    Kay @ Digitelle

    Thanks for the well-written article, Dave! It was a good read. I just tried setting up my first staging site at Siteground before coming here, and had some of the issues you’ve raised. However, after reading your article and launching Support chat, the staging site was up and running perfectly. hehe :) They should probably give a heads up to grab a cup of coffee while the magic happens.

    Perhaps other WP-hosts have a better solution for this, but having never done anything like this before, it was very intuitive and fast. The 10min wait is totally negligible, compared to having to pay eight times (ish) more for hosting at at WP Engine.


    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kay. I appreciate it.

      I completely agree with you. My intent with this article was not to discourage people from using SiteGround. I was a WP Engine user for 4 years, and am now currently using SiteGround. My thoughts are the same as yours. An extra 10 minutes to chat with support is totally worth the reduced service cost. And SiteGround’s chat support is fantastic.

      Glad you got it all figured out. Happy staging!

    2. Ewan Avatar

      Glad it worked smoothly for you Kay. I was wondering if you are using the free cloudflare package they offer? My guess is that you are and so they had full control of the site and DNS.

      My case is that we have a seperate cloudflare account (paid) and although I gave them access to login and configure cloudflare they were still not able to get staging working (due to ssl issues from the http://www.staging1.* stuff)

  5. Bitedge Avatar

    SG staging system is super buggy. We have had to completely give up on pushing changes from staging to production, there will be bugs! For example Some of the URLs on production get changed to the staging subdomain! I guess the search and replace worked when creating a staging but not when pushing to production, the URLS were in the footer and widgets (search and replace is sometimes weird in widgets).

    The most you can do is use the staging to test changes and collaborate, then manually move those changes over to production, very sub optimal.

    After using many staging sites for a decent amount of dev work its clear the staging sites are kept in a staging environment with some different configurations to production sites, this defeats the purpose of staging as the environment should be the same as production.

    In the 2 years I have been with SG they have made various improvements to their products and systems but not to their staging feature, it has stayed the same and badly needs an overhaul.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      I really appreciate you sharing your experience. I’ve been afraid to push to live, and have also manually moved my changes over. Thankfully, I haven’t made any huge changes yet, so it’s just been a few files here and there, which is manageable.

      Staging is the one area where I think SiteGround badly misses the mark, especially in terms of “WordPress hosting.” Their performance and support is as good, if not better, than most other shared hosts, but the staging could definitely use some improvement.

  6. Mau Rizio Avatar
    Mau Rizio

    I would add that the staging system is not compatible with WP multisite.
    I discovered it just today when I tried to set up a new staging environment and I was always getting errors.
    SG support confirmed that I cannot use their feature because it is not compatible with multisite install.
    Very upsetting since this incompatibility is not mentioned anywhere in their documentations.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Mau — I really appreciate you taking the time to share this. I’ve updated the article to include a note about how staging is not supported on Multisite, and referenced this comment.

  7. Mr. Smith Avatar
    Mr. Smith

    I would like to mention that it is expected that your domain is pointed by NS, then the zone for it and it’s subdomains will be managed by siteground and thus you won’t need to make DNS changes for subdomains.

    Keep in mind that hosts can’t make it one click if you have services elsewhere since they won’t have the access to manage them.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hi Mr. Smith — I appreciate you reiterating these points, but I don’t completely agree with everything you’ve said.

      I’m not sure we can assume that “it is expected” for users to have their domain’s nameservers managed with SiteGround. I don’t have any data to back this up (if you do, please share), but I would suspect there are plenty of users who bought a domain elsewhere and have chosen SiteGround for hosting. And it would be considered very difficult for a beginner to update their nameservers.

      And while it’s true that the way SiteGround has set up their staging sites, it cannot be made one click if services are managed elsewhere. — But part of my point in this article is that they could’ve set up their staging in a different way. If they set it up on a sub-domain of a domain that they themselves control, they could have made it one click.

      Kinsta, who is our #1 recommended WordPress host, has done just that. You can read their documentation on staging sites, and you’ll see just how simple it is, requiring zero changes on the user’s end.

      But if you have any data to back up your claim that “it is expected that your domain is pointed by NS,” I’d love to see it, and would be willing to update this article.

  8. Arby Avatar

    Just wondering about your statement in a reply above:
    “If you allow for user-generated content (blog comments, forum posts, etc.), put a maintenance page up before you push your changes, that way no new content can be added that might get lost when you push.”

    That would only be true if you created the staging site, then closed the live site for maintenance right away, no? If you cloned your site to a staging version on Day 1, left the live site open for 10 days, then on Day 11 you put up a maintenance mode, you would still have 10 days worth of user content that the staging site does NOT have. So I don’t think your suggestion is valid.

    The key when pushing from staging back to live is to be very selective about what parts of the database you are pushing to live. I believe (though it’s been over a year since I used it) that SG has options when you push to live as to which tables in the DB you want to push to live. In theory you should not be choosing any DB tables related to users, comments, and anything user-modifiable, etc…

    Tricky stuff!

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Arby, you’re 100% correct. I misspoke. Thanks for pointing that out.

      “You should put up a maintenance page before you copy your live site to staging. Then make your changes on staging. Then push to live.”

      But I realize this isn’t ideal if you have a large number of changes to make. Your live site would be down for too long.

      I think you are correct that SiteGround allows you to choose, but I haven’t used their staging feature since I wrote this article, so I’m not sure exactly how much control you have.

      Also, the best option might be the mergebot plugin created by Delicious Brains. It is a premium product, but they build really great products, and have a ton of experience with merging/moving sites.

  9. Ewan Avatar

    Thank you so much for putting this article together – you have saved my sanity. I was going insane trying to get staging working on SG.

    Despite several sessions with SG support the staging site was still showing a 403 error and they were telling me that I needed to issue a new ssl cert with our CDN (with the same domains as the original one, derp). This I did not want to do as it could take down the live site and it wasn’t going to fix the problem!!

    In the end I manually cloned the filesystem, database, created a staging sub-domain and created a new ssl cert for the staging site in SG and then with a simple CNAME in DNS the magic is done*.

    I am very happy to be past the horror that is SG staging and with my own hand rolled staging env I at least know that I have full responsibility for it.

    In every other respect I have been very happy with SG but their staging is horrible in my experience.

    *if you are following these steps yourself you will also need to run wp search-replace –dry-run from the CLI inside the filesystem root of your staging site (obviously drop the –dry-run when you are happy).

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Thanks for chiming in here, Ewan. I agree that SiteGround has been great, especially in terms of value. But their staging solution is the one clear downside to their platform.

      I really think they should’ve just hosted staging sites on their own domain instead of putting the responsibility on the site owner. People like you and me are able to make a staging solution work, but it takes technical know-how. I’d be willing to bet that many of SiteGround’s customers would have no idea how to edit their DNS or create a CNAME.

    2. Arby Avatar

      In SG’s defense, when I used their staging tool, a simple support ticket and 24hrs was all that was needed. Customers don’t need to know how to edit the DNS when SG support staff can do it for them. ;)

    3. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Arby — I understand your point, and can certainly agree that SiteGround’s support goes the extra mile to help their customers.

      However, if you manage your DNS with another company (not SiteGround), I don’t think SiteGround will go in and make edits. That’s a huge risk to take, as they could jeopardize other aspects of your domain (such as email, other sites on sub-domains, DKIM, verification TXT records, etc.).

      It’s probably true that most folks who manage their DNS elsewhere have enough technical knowledge to do it themselves, but it still takes time, and isn’t a one-click solution. My point was more to highlight the frustrations that an experienced developer might encounter when using SiteGround’s staging solution. It might work well if you manage your DNS with SiteGround and only have one site, but for developers hosting many client sites on a GoGeek plan, updating a bunch of DNS for a bunch of clients is frustrating.

  10. Michael Avatar

    I just read your article since I am looking for a way to push staging copy to my live server without messing up woocommerce orders, comments and so… (haven’t found a solution though)..

    Anyway, I run SG Geek package with staging and it was really easy to set up. I just created a staging copy and after that I could easily access it via the correct url. I could even create FTP access for other developer.
    So I don’t agree with the article.


    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hi Michael,

      You might want to look into WP Migrate DB Pro. It’s one of the best migration plugins out there, by far. I have not used it to move a WooCommerce site, but it might be worth reaching out to their team and seeing if that’s something it can do quickly without losing orders, comments, etc.

      SiteGround’s staging can be really easy to setup… IF you use SiteGround’s DNS. But if you manage your DNS anywhere else (which is what I would recommend), then you have to add/change DNS records, and it gets messy.

    2. Arby Avatar

      Did you use SG’s new WP Migration tool or just the Staging tools?

      Do you have HTTPS on your site?

  11. Adam Avatar

    This post was super helpful for me as I just moved my Squarespace site to SiteGround hosting but maintained the existing DNS management through my domain registrar and didn’t really want to change. I had a great experience with the technical support through the online chat and they got this set up for me in a way that works. Basically I added the staging1.[domain] A record pointing to the same IP address as my naked domain to my DNS management, added a http://www.staging1 CNAME record pointing to @, and then the tech added staging1.[domain] to my Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. With that set-up, staging1.[domain] redirects to http://www.staging1.[domain] and requires me to login twice to the staging (sub)domain, once when I get to staging1 and once when I get redirected to http://www.staging1, but everything about it works well. (I could avoid the double login but just going to http://www.staging1.[domain] in the first place, of course.)

    I am just technical enough to get myself in trouble but this fix worked well for me and I appreciated SiteGround’s excellent tech support in getting this done!

  12. Yashvit Naik Avatar
    Yashvit Naik

    Reading this while I’m on chat with Siteground Support to get my staging site working…

    We use a custom wildcard SSL on the live site, and for some reason that one did not work for the staging site (worked for but not for Anyways, they managed to get a letsencrypt working for it.

    I must say, you have covered all the pain points of Siteground. We are moving from WPEngine to Siteground and everything is a little more complicated to setup. Like the flexibility though.

  13. Jeff Avatar

    Hi Dave,

    Thought I’d chime in here for a bit more context.

    Two point I’d like to make:

    1) Everything you say in the article is spot on……… IF you manage your own DNS

    2) If you simply use SiteGround DNS then their staging is absolutely awesome.

    I had EXACTLY the same issues as you with one of my big sites ie adding CNAME records, insecure warnings, creating new SSL certificates etc etc. Frankly it was a major pain, every time I wanted to make some tests.

    However, when I tried to do staging on another site which was pointed to SG nameservers, the experience was radically smoother…..

    Literally one click .Everything worked first time. I thought it was a miracle.

    Moral of the story is. If you want the best out of SG staging, for god’s sake, try to use their own DNS. If you don’t you’re probably going to run into some issues

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Appreciate the comment, Jeff. Thanks for taking the time.

      As several other commenters have mentioned this as well, I’ve updated the top of the article with a callout to reiterate this point.

      But again, for the record, I just don’t like using my hosting provider as my DNS provider. For one, if they have an outage, there’s no way to get around it, and your email would go down along with your website. Terrible combination. — In my experience, there are DNS providers who provide a much better DNS experience, and hosting providers who provide excellent hosting. Rarely do you find the best of both with the same provider.

  14. Russ Michaels Avatar
    Russ Michaels

    If you have your DNS elsewhere then there is no way that SiteGround or any host can setup a sub-domain.
    Although I do think they should have better support for CloudFlare. The setup they have now is half arsed, because it uses SG DNS and not CF DNS, and so it only routes the www record through cloudflare. So your naked domain still points directed at SG, which you need to then redirect to WWW and so there is no DDOS protection.
    All they would have to do to fix this is get you to setup a cloudflare account, and then ask for your API key, and then they could do full integration.
    I actually use another host called, who required me to put a domain behind cloudflare when it was being DDOS attacked. I suggested that they need to add CF support to their control panel to make it easier for customers to use CloudFlare in these situations. It only took them a few weeks.

    I can think of a couple of ways that would avoid the require DNS changes.

    1) create the staging site inside the main site
    2) siteground could use their own domain for staging sites instead of yours.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hi Russ — Thanks for chiming in.

      This is great info, some even too technical for me to grasp.

      But your solution #2 is what other WP hosts do, and it works well. If SiteGround used their own domain (in which they controlled the DNS) for staging sites, this issue would not exist.

  15. Neil Avatar

    We just migrated a subdomain to our domain and both were on SG. Tech Support says my subdomain was pointing to a different DNS and I need to update it to SG but my subdomain was thru SG.

    Now that I have my site migrated, how DO I update the DNS from my subdomain’ed redesign that is now on my domain?

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Neil, what’s your subdomain? And where did you purchase your domain name?

      If you already have the DNS hosted at SiteGround, that is something I think SiteGround should be able to help with.

  16. Neil Avatar

    I’m not sure where the domain was purchased.

    And it was my thought too that SG should be able to troubleshoot (they did not and recommended an outside developer).

    I am planning on submitting a new ticket now that I have confirmation. Thank you!

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      What’s the domain? I can check on something for you real quick and help give you more info before you submit the ticket.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      OK, so SiteGround can’t help you with this.

      Your domain’s DNS is actually managed at Newtek. Check out this article for some basic info on DNS.

      If you can’t figure things out from there, reach out to Newtek’s support team.

  17. Neil Avatar

    Thank you for following up. This was what SG told me also. However, thru cPanel, it shows my domain is pointing to their Name Servers (and they confirmed that for me too in a ticket response last night).

    I’ve only been working on the site a few months. The domain was purchased long before I was here. SG is the only host I am working with.

    I’ll read thru your documentation you shared (thank you!) and see what I can do.

    What I can’t understand is this: my domain is with SG. The subdomain was created in SG. How does a different Name Server get involved in an internal website redesign created under a subdomain, housed under the domain, that is already pointing to the correct Name Server?

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Neil, I think we’re just on a different page when it comes to the technical language.

      Check out this link. It shows you where your DNS servers are managed. The NS3.NEWTEKDNS.COM and NS4.NEWTEKDNS.COM are your actual nameservers. When someone types a domain into their browser, nameservers receive the request first. They check the domain (or sub-domain) and then decide where to send the request.

      You set an “A record” with your DNS provider (Newtek) to point to the IP address of a web server (aka: SiteGround). SiteGround then receives the browser’s request for files (aka: a website), and checks its system. So in SiteGround, you still have to setup a domain folder, and tell SiteGround where certain files are located for a certain domain and/or sub-domain. But your DNS is what routes the request in the first place.

      If you need further assistance, feel free to email me at [email protected].

  18. Patrick Roesch Avatar
    Patrick Roesch

    Hi Dave and thanks for the blog. I have 2 customer websites that I need to migrate away from their current hosting then create a staging environment for each and I have all of my hosting currently on a SG Gogeek account. These will be my first 2 staging websites so I’m a bit nervous about it. I have also been trying to find the best way to manage the growth of all of my hosting needs as there is a growing combination of my personal websites and customer websites. Are other developers using a single account (i.e. GoGeek) and upgrading to a cloud server account or using re-seller accounts, or is anyone creating individual gogeek accounts per customer? I know there are 2 parts to my question however it is so that I can setup and put 2 websites into a staging environment the right way with future growth in mind… I greatly appreciate any feedback on the above.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hey Patrick,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ll try to touch on both of your questions.

      As for SiteGround staging sites, they actually work GREAT if you manage your DNS at SiteGround. So please keep that in mind. My issues only arose because I use Cloudflare for DNS. SiteGround may have also updated how their staging works since I wrote this article over a year ago. I know they have made a lot of updates to their WordPress features recently.

      The Duplicator plugin is great for moving sites. I’ve used it recently to move a few sites from Bluehost to SiteGround.

      If you plan to continue managing sites for clients, and building out your portfolio, I would actually recommend a different host. SiteGround is great for a handful of smaller sites, but once you really start building out a portfolio of clients, and a few of those sites start getting real traffic, you would have to switch from GoGeek to some kind of cloud plan. That’s totally doable, and I have NOT done so myself (so I can’t speak to the process)… I think a host like Kinsta is a lot more scalable, and will perform better.

      I use Kinsta for a few of my sites, and I can’t say enough good things about them. They are a little more expensive than SiteGround, but TOTALLY worth it. Their performance is incredible, and they offer 24/7 support as well. When you charge clients for hosting, I would feel more comfortable having them by my side.

      If devs are using SiteGround for reseller hosting, I would suspect they are likely adding them to their own GoGeek account. It’s so much easier to manage that way, as opposed to separate accounts for each client.

      Best of luck!

  19. Patrick Roesch Avatar
    Patrick Roesch

    Thank you so much for your feedback Dave.

    I do have some customer sites that have their DNS managed elsewhere, including one of the websites that I need to migrate and stage, so that’s why I was particularly concerned with the issues you encountered with SG Staging a year ago.

    I will ask support if there are any improvements in this area now…

    I will also take a look at Kinsta and compare with another recommended host Fast Comet as well. Thanks again Dave, I really appreciate your input.

    1. Nan Jones Avatar
      Nan Jones

      I was wondering what Patrick found out from SiteGround.
      I am setting up my first website and bought my domain from someone else. I was just about to sign on with SiteGround until I read this article and then I wasn’t sure what I should do. Since I am just starting, I guess it wont matter at first about it being on line. Any thoughts? I read an article about using WP Stagecoach plugin and was wondering if that would help. Obviously much of what I read above was like reading Greek.
      Thanks for any thoughts someone might have.

    2. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hi Nan,

      I still recommend SiteGround because everything else they do is great. The staging is the only slightly annoying thing I’ve found. But WP Stagecoach is a great service that does eliminate the need for SiteGround’s staging feature. If you don’t use staging much, I’d definitely still recommend SiteGround. Or as long as you’re comfortable with WP Stagecoach, you’ll be fine.

      I wouldn’t let this stop you from going with SiteGround. But if you have it in your budget ($30/mo.), Kinsta is far-and-away the best WordPress host out there.

  20. Nan Jones Avatar
    Nan Jones

    Thanks for your insight. I will research a bit more into both of them before making a final decision.

  21. Patrick Roesch Avatar
    Patrick Roesch

    Hi Nan, just chiming in… I have used my staging facility on Siteground now and it works fine. There are different scenarios for staging requirements so I can advise from my experience. Firstly, to use the staging facility, you must have a GoGeek account or higher. The 2 best things I enjoy about Siteground is their support and their SG Optimizer plugin for WordPress. I have a customer who I am renovating a website for. Firstly I moved their existing ‘Live’ website to the GoGeek account, then proceeded to create a one-click’ staging site which duplicates the website & database perfectly with one click and has an SSL certificate issued as well. The beauty of this is when I have finished renovating the staging site, I can either push the entire new site live, or I can choose which elements to push to the live site. I hope this helps :-)
    Regards, Patrick

  22. Nan Jones Avatar
    Nan Jones

    Thank you so much for your update. That is very helpful. I appreciate you chiming in.
    Thanks again, Nan

  23. Patrick Roesch Avatar
    Patrick Roesch

    Hi Nan, my pleasure… since my input, Siteground have introduced staging to the Growbig accounts as well so that’s great for the budget :-)

  24. John Marra Avatar
    John Marra

    Thank you for your review and here we are at 4/27/2019 and the staging function still does not work very well, most likely because
    I’m using my domain registrars name servers. I also read somewhere it wasn’t generally a good idea to use your hosting companies name servers. I like SiteGround but not happy with the staging tool. Quite frankly I have better things to do with my time than battle with it. I’ll just search for other options. I’ll probably use Duplicator or All In One and create a subdomain and put my staging site there. I have no need to push to live and will just use to test WP, plugin, and theme updates. Once I feel there are no issues I’ll just update the live site. A little more work yes, but I’d have a better comfort level doing it that way.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hey John. I appreciate the update. It has been a while since I initially wrote this, so it’s good to have a recent experience. Thank you for taking the time.

      Bummer that their staging feature still hasn’t been improved. I’ve had pretty good success using the Duplicator plugin, so I can recommend it. Haven’t used All In One but I’ve heard good things about it as well.

      There’s also a service/plugin called WP Stagecoach that I’ve heard really good things about.

  25. Amy Avatar

    Ok reading all of this and wow that’s a lot of info :/ too much for me at the moment. So I have a domain at one place and a site hosted at SiteGround. My A records and my DNS are running through CloudFlare, but originate at a different place then SiteGround, I cannot get the staging set up, (it won’t create the database) even though it was re-hashed a bunch can someone just give me the steps basic outline to make this work?

    Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hi Amy — It’s really hard for me to help with something specific to your account like this, but SiteGround’s support team should be able to help you. Just let them know you’re having trouble creating the database, and they should be able to get a staging site created for you. My experience with their support team has been mostly positive.

  26. Amy Avatar

    I reached out to them this morning. It’s not me having the issue creating the database it’s happening when it’s trying to make the staging site, it seems to make a completely different database. I will post back and let you know. One of the reasons I moved to SiteGround was for all of the great staging….unfortunately I was unaware of it being difficult with a pointed domain :/ So far I’m super happy with SiteGround, but the staging with a pointed domain does not seem to be straight forward.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Ah, right. Sorry, my last email was probably confusing, because SiteGround creates the DB for you, you’re not actually creating it yourself. Sorry about that.

      But I don’t know that you can change that. I think that’s just how SiteGround’s staging works. When you go to create a staging copy, it makes a new folder on the server with all your files, AND creates a duplicate database. If you want to set up a staging site but use your live database, I think you’ll need to use a different staging/backup/DB plugin for something like that. I don’t think SiteGround will allow you to do that.

  27. Patrick Roesch Avatar
    Patrick Roesch

    Hi Amy, for what it’s worth, I have none of my domains hosted on Siteground and simply have my nameservers pointed to my Siteground hosting. When you point the nameservers to Siteground, it (Siteground) then manages the DNS & zone records. I have several websites hosted in staging with this scenario. I hope this helps :-)

  28. Stephen Avatar

    I see this discussion’s been going for a while now and thought I’d chip in to say that the problem’s still out there as I’ve just hit the same thing; my dns is not managed by Siteground, so staging does not work. It’s far from ‘one click’ and I really don’t want to start tinkering with my client’s dns – or asking them to. Siteground should either fix it or be more up-front about the limitations. That said, Siteground are very good with most aspects and Kinsta are very expensive, so I forgive them this one.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Appreciate the update, Stephen. I agree that SiteGround does an all-around nice job, but for those that would use staging regularly, especially with multiple sites/clients, this could really be a pain in the butt.

      In terms of Kinsta being “expensive,” keep in mind how subjective this is. I do recommend SiteGround for some folks who are on a REALLY tight budget and have a super-tiny website to start, but for most people, for a single website, Kinsta is my top recommendation. For a single site, Kinsta is $4.95 less per month (regular price, after SiteGround’s initial rate wears off for GoGeek). And for many small businesses, they wouldn’t need more than 5GB of storage or 20k visitors, so Kinsta’s $30/mo. plan would be fine. And Kinsta does provide a much faster experience.

  29. Davide Corizzo Avatar
    Davide Corizzo

    Hi Dave, I really appreciated your blog post.

    Before reading it I also faced similar issues when trying to deploy SG Staging under Cloudflare like DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN, ERR_SSL_VERSION_OR_CIPHER_MISMATCH, and ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS.

    For DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN I forgot to add staging1 subdomain in Cloudflare DNS settings without the orange cloud (I do the same for other subdomains I’m using).

    The 2nd time I tried to install Staging of my website, everything went smoothly and I’m able to edit the staging site as the normal one.

    I will keep you updated in something occurs.


  30. some guy eh Avatar
    some guy eh

    I just wanted to add that it works fine for me, maybe this was resolved.

    If you are on cloudflare you just need to add the A records for


  31. Dave Doherty Avatar
    Dave Doherty

    Well, this is still an issue at SiteGround. And my modifying my DNS records at Google Domains is not working (I’ll check with Google and/or SiteGround about that).

    One question, there are always 4 nameservers right. Could I do 2 Google and 2 SiteGround?

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Hi Dave — I’m about 90% sure that the amount of nameservers is dependent on who your DNS provider is. Almost all DNS providers I’ve ever seen include a minimum of 2. Some stop there. Some provide 4. Some companies use even more than that.

      My understanding is that multiple nameservers are usually used as backups. If the first one fails, or gets attacked or slowed down in some way, your domain can still point to the right places because there is a backup DNS server in place.

      I do believe you could have 2 nameservers at Google & 2 at SiteGround… but I don’t know exactly how that would work.

  32. Barry Avatar

    I to have had this issue I now alter my hosts file on my pc to access the staging area adding the server ip and both (staging*.DOMAIN) and (www.staging*.DOMAIN) this way I don’t have to bother asking for A records to be added/changed.

    It’s not perfect either and Siteground should address the ongoing issue or make it plain as day about the limits of the service.

    1. David Doherty Avatar
      David Doherty

      Can you be more specific about how you changed your hosts file? Something like this? staging/2/ http://www.staging/2/

      My SiteGround staging folder structure looks like this

  33. David Doherty Avatar
    David Doherty

    OK, I see the spaces did not come out to show the structure in my last post.

    So in the “staging” folder, there are three folders called 1, 2, and 3
    In the “2” folder, for example, there are two folders called “chi-bin” and “domainname” (the name of my domain name). Then in the “domainname” folder is the typical WordPress folders and files.

  34. Sarah Edwards Avatar
    Sarah Edwards

    I’m with you Dave. I have yet to set up a Staging Site that actually works as it should.

    My main bugbear is that they seem to be desperately slow, regularly crash, even when I’m doing the simplest of editing, and constantly lose my images.

    I have to refresh the screen every 5 minutes to see the images because every time I edit something they all disappear! It’s so frustrating.

    Add to the fact that with their new interface (which still hasn’t been properly rolled out for existing Cloud customers) their support seems to have gone on the ‘lite’ side, and I now seem to have to prove the fact that I have a genuine support question, my patience with them is wearing thin.

    If it wasn’t for the fact that moving all my customers would be a huge ball ache I would be seriously considering looking elsewhere!

    Phew – rant over. Have you had/ solved any of these issues? I’m thinking of going back to the old fashioned way of setting up a staging site!

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      I have a lot of the same thoughts, Sarah. I’m not a fan of their new interface, or its seemingly inconsistent rollout.

      And no, I have not solved any staging issues. I wrote this post 2.5 years ago and I’m somewhat shocked that they have done very little to address this. I thought maybe with their move to Google Cloud that this would be an opportunity to improve this.

      I don’t use staging on SiteGround at all, and am planning to move my remaining sites off their platform when my initial 3-year plan expires later this year.

      If you’re shopping for a new host, I’ve been recommending Kinsta for 3+ years now. They continue to be so far above & beyond the rest of the industry.

      ^ That is an affiliate link, but rest assured, I use them myself, and they are the only host I am currently recommending… because they’re the best, not because they pay me to say it.

  35. Sarah Edwards Avatar
    Sarah Edwards

    Thanks – I’ll bear that in mind. I did have a look but my biggest issue would be that they don’t have a package that would particularly suit me. I have about 25 sites, and I don’t think I’ll get up to to 40 very quickly so it would cost me a fortune in the meantime.

    Also I only moved to Siteground about a year ago and none of my clients are very tech savvy so changing hosts is fairly painful!

  36. angela Avatar

    OMG I literally just ran into this problem with Siteground today. Up until now, I’ve never really had any problems with them or with their customer support. I had been trying to move my staging to productions and kept running into problems.(hosting with them and domain somewhere else). The Revolution slider would not work as well as other parts of the website just would not populate. The support team worked for about 2 days trying to get it to work. In meantime I created a temporary site with Siteground and upload a backup of this new site and everything worked great…Slider and images. So I automatically knew there was something really wrong with the staging. I made another call to Siteground and they first told me I could not get Phone Support any longer because I had called to many times. Then another representative told me that I could not get phone support but only ticket support because they had used too much time and resource on this issue. REALLY! Needless to say I was very upset and now I see that it is really a problem with their servers and staging. Too much of a headache. I’m just going to move this site to another hosting company. Although I still have other sites there, I will be sure not to EVERY use the staging!

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      I feel your pain. If you’re looking for a new hosting company, the only one I recommend with zero reservations is Kinsta. I am an affiliate, but I use them myself for most of my critical sites, and have had zero issues in 3+ years. Once my SiteGround expires near the end of this year, I’ll likely move everything over to Kinsta.

      They even send me a handwritten holiday card to thank me for being on their beta team and helping them develop new features. Their platform & entire team is fantastic.

  37. Florian Avatar

    Hi Dave,
    I know this is an old article, but the problem remains the same. I think I found my personal solution to this problem. My DNS is managed by myself, but with easyspace as the registrar so I am going to point my DNS to siteground. This in means I still have control over my DNS and could point back to easyspace nameserver just in case anything goes wrong at SiteGround. Not ideal, but better than migrating to siteground as the registrar.

    Just my p2
    Thank you for this excellent article.

  38. Bill Avatar

    2020 and Siteground still can’t get it right! They clearly just don’t care. Very frustrating.

  39. Mary Hargreaves Avatar
    Mary Hargreaves

    I’ve just found this article. It’s now several years since you wrote this, and it’s STILL a problem. I fall into the ‘small business owner’ category, but have a company that is going to install a plugin that I need (I usually install etc myself, but this one is stupidly complicated – don’t ask) and they have asked for a staging site. I appreciate that I should be using staging anyway for updates, so I thought ‘hey, SiteGround say it’s easy, so I’ll give it a go’. Oh, what a mistake. I devoted several hours to this today, and although there is now a staging site, I’m blowed if I can work out how to access it. I log in to the staging site and then get a ‘page not found’ and redirect to the main site. I’m sure this is probably to do with the DNS, but as you say, it is far from ‘one click’. I’ve been with Siteground for several years, and generally think they are very good, but I know I need to use staging, and this could end up being a deal breaker. What a shame.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Sorry you’re experiencing this. I can’t believe they haven’t improved the process and it’s been several years.

      I moved away from them partly because of this, and partly because their renewal prices are much higher than the initial deal you get, and I found a much better platform and service with Kinsta.

  40. Bill Avatar

    I have no issues using the wordpress staging feature on siteground, while managing my domain on Route53. As long as you _only_ create NS server records for your domain, and avoid creating an A record pointed to an IP, then siteground will point to staging correctly

  41. Gaurizio Avatar

    Hi Dave,
    just read your article a few days ago since I ran in the same issue. I think there is a walkaround! If you host a website on Siteground and have a different domain registrar. Instead of updating the DNS each time (it can be difficult if you are working for a client and you need to ask him to place a record in the DNS table).

    You might want to do this: create a new staging, get the link and modify your hosts file on your PC under C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc. Just add the ip address to point to and the staging path (

    Works and you don’t even have to wait for propagation…

  42. Jack Avatar

    I can’t believe it’s four years since this post was written, and these issues still occur. My biggest gripe with SiteGround in the month I’ve been with them is an inability to push backups to staging. Today, their tech team told me that it’s impossible to create a new WordPress install from a backup. Why?

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Really sorry to hear that this is still an issue. That really sucks, as they have had ample time to address this by now.

      I moved away from them a few years ago so I’m not familiar with their platform anymore. Sorry but I can’t really be of assistance. I wish you the best.

      And if you’re looking for a better host, I can highly recommend both Kinsta & Cloudways.

  43. Kevin Avatar

    It’s October 2021 and I just found your post while searching for solutions to issues I’m experiencing with Siteground’s staging functionality. After creating my first staging site last week, I quickly figured out that I needed to add an A Record for with my non-Siteground DNS host. But for several days after adding that record (much longer than DNS propagation would take) I continued to get “Site Not Found” when trying to access the staging site. After finding your post, I tried adding the A Record and that resolved the issue with accessing the staging site.

    Unfortunately I also am experiencing the Invalid Certificate issue for – no SSL certificate was created for that subdomain.

    Finally, I encountered an additional issue you didn’t mention. Since it is a staging site, I used Siteground’s Protected URLs functionality to add a username/password to The Protected URLs setup, however, will not let me add a username/password to The domain field doesn’t offer the http://www.staging URL as an option (and I cannot manually enter it). If I use the URL to access the site, I am prompted for a password. But if I go directly to, I bypass the password prompt. So yet one more annoying frustration with Siteground’s staging features.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Ugh. That sounds really frustrating, Kevin.

      I am shocked that it’s been THIS LONG and SiteGround has still not improved their staging site functionality. Staging is such a crucial part of hosting. I moved away from them a few years ago because I just couldn’t deal with things like this when I have several sites that I manage, tons of plugin updates to run, etc.

  44. John Robinson Avatar
    John Robinson

    Another commenter 4 years later, still running into the same problems!

    My specific problem right now is that the Siteground Staging Tool doesn’t reuse its own URLs.

    Our client manages their own DNS and we got them to create an entry for and that’s been working fine, but we’re now wanting to create a new staging environment, and despite having the option to fully delete old staging environments the tool just keeps incrementing despite earlier subdomains being available. If I could wipe out the staging copy and put a fresh one on staging2 again then it wouldn’t be such a frustration, but I’ve been testing adding and deleting staging environments and we’re now up to stagingAMillion and so I have to go to the client asking for a new DNS entry again.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Yeah, that sounds really annoying and unnecessary. Deleting a staging site, along with its name, shouldn’t be too much to ask.

      Sorry you have to deal with that.

  45. Kimber Avatar

    Using Cloudflare (free) and pointing the Nameservers to it. Hosted on SiteGround. The Staging Site is NOT even an option to set up in the Siteground site tools.

    Spent an hour trying to figure out how I can safely and easily get a staging site for an employers website-frustrated at this point.

    What is everyone who is using Cloudflare dns while hosted on SiteGround doing to easily get a staging site going?
    Do any of the plugins like WP STAGING work ?

    Another year later but now it’s at least not even an option to click and mess up your site on SiteGrounds back end.

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