Setting Up a Test Site to Test Your WordPress.com Plugins
Because WordPress changes so often, it is useful to create a test site on which you can install and run the WordPress software and plugins to test them before applying them to your live website. If you depend on your WordPress website for your income or business, having things run smoothly at all times is very important. There are several ways to create a test environment, but here are the basics:
Find out whether your hosting provider gives you the ability to create subdomains.
Generally, most hosting providers give you this option. You can use the cPanel hosting account manager to create this subdomain as this example does, but your hosting account might offer you a different management tool, such as NetAdmin or Plesk.
A subdomain is the second level of your current domain that can handle unique content separately from content in your main domain. Subdomains operate underneath your main domain, and can function as a wholly different section of your site, independent from your existing domain name.
Log in to your cPanel (or hosting account manager tool provided to you).
Click the Subdomains icon in the cPanel interface.
The Subdomains page within cPanel appears.
Type the name of your subdomain in the Subdomain text box.
For the purposes of making this straightforward and easy, type testing in the text box.
On the drop-down menu, choose the name of the domain on which you want to add the subdomain.
A unique folder name for your new subdomain appears in the Document/Root text box. Don’t alter this text because this tells your web server where to install the necessary WordPress files.
Click the Create button.
It takes a few seconds, but the page refreshes and displays a message that the new subdomain has been created.
Now that you have a subdomain set up on your hosting account, you can install WordPress into the folder that was created when you added the subdomain. For example, if you created a subdomain called testing, then the folder on your web server you’ll install into will be the /testing/ folder.
After you have WordPress installed on your test domain, you can import the content from your live site using the WordPress import feature. After the content is imported, you have a carbon copy of your live site on your test domain where you can install different plugins and test different configurations before you make those changes to your live site.