Move WordPress Websites With Orion - ManageWP

Move WordPress Websites With Orion


Making changes to a live website is exciting, in an “I am sooo dead if I don’t fix this before anyone notices” kind of way. I’ve crashed websites. I’ve broken forms, made whole sections of sites disappear. Learning was fun.

Over time I learned that WordPress professionals handle the changes by creating staging versions of the websites, where I could do anything I want without jeopardizing live (also known as production) websites. The idea is pretty straightforward: perform all the updates, modify the CSS, change the layout, and see the result. If everything checks out, do the same on the live website.

There’s just one problem: keeping an up-to-date staging website takes time. Some high-end hosting companies offer staging/live sync, but that’s only if both of them are on the host’s servers. So you’re stuck with a choice:

Nobody wants to waste time on mundane things, so we play fast, we play loose, and we get the job done. Be honest: if life was Lethal Weapon, would you be Riggs, the guy who gets the job done and breaks out of straight jackets for fun, or Murtaugh, the family man who keeps talking about retirement and being “too old for this s**t”?

The boxer shorts are making this decision really easy

We tell our clients that we’re reliable professionals, but we all cut corners at times. This is why, in order to get the job done ASAP, we built a set of reliable tools that will let you be Riggs, minus the path of destruction in your wake.

ManageWP Orion Clone Tool

Orion Clone tool is built for one thing: to move your WordPress website from point A to point B in under a minute, with minimum hassle. You can utilize it in a number of ways:

If you’re using Orion backup, you already know how to restore website from a backup with one click: just go to the Backups screen and click the Restore backup button and you’re done.


There’s also the Clone button. Cloning is done in two basic steps: the source and the destination.

The source is the currently selected backup. The destination can be a WordPress website you already added to your ManageWP dashboard (note: this option is currently being tested, and will be live soon), or it could be a new destination on a site server. Choosing a new destination opens a form where you enter the required info.


The Test Credentials button helps you track down credential and permission issues that would prevent the Clone tool from running successfully. Now all that’s left is to click the Clone button at the bottom to move WordPress to the new server.

Improvements Over The Classic Clone Tool

We can pretty much call this a new tool, not an improvement, because in the back end everything’s completely different.

Performance and Stability

The Orion Clone tool is a huge improvement in performance and stability. We already talked about how Orion backup is using cutting edge tech to back up websites that no other backup solutions can handle. It’s similar with the Clone tool.

The Classic Clone Wizard establishes a connection between the source and the destination servers. That means that there are two potential points of failure. With Orion, the backups are stored on our cloud infrastructure, which eliminates the possibility of the source server causing the clone process to fail.

Another huge improvement is the connection itself. If the PHP process on the destination site is terminated before the files have been uploaded (if you ever experienced a failed clone with pretty much any WordPress cloning solution, this is the likely suspect), the Clone tool falls back to FTP file transfer to complete the task. It is a bit slower, but way more reliable method.

Smart Cloning

Most (if not all) cloning solutions on the WordPress market have a glaring flaw: you have to clone everything. If you have a staging area where you test changes before you do them on the live website, this is a big problem because you clone a 2GB website over and over again. It will eat up your bandwidth. It will be less reliable, because of the size of the website. It will take up a lot of your physical space.

That’s why we figured we should play smart with the Orion Clone tool. What the new Clone does is compare the source and destination files. If they are the same, it skips them, and clones only the different files and the database. Suddenly an arduous 2GB clone will come down to a 2MB worth of files and database. It will be done in seconds. It will be reliable.

We have more improvements in plans, but right now we need your help.

There are a lot of hosting companies out there, with just as many different server setups. We need to test the Clone tool on as many different server setups as possible, in order to work out the kinks and be certain that it will get the job done when you need it the most. Try cloning your websites on different server infrastructures, and use the Feedback button to tell our developers if you encounter any issues. As a precaution, I recommend against cloning over live websites.

Thank you for helping us improve the Orion Clone tool, and that’s why the tool is available to all ManageWP users. We need to make it as sturdy as possible, so you could be 100% certain it will get the job done when you need it. Without it, you’re just inviting mayhem to your websites.

That’s 7 milestones down, and only SEO, Manage Users, Client Report Scheduling and Sub Users remaining on the Orion roadmap.

As always, if you’ve got a suggestion how we could improve the Clone tool, let us know in the comment section, and we’ll figure out if we can implement it.

Nemanja Aleksic

Growth Engineer at Devana Technologies and ManageWP // Father, husband, blokemon // Stopping pucks and bad business decisions.


  1. Jonathan

    Two questions.
    Does the clone tool use the backup of the source site as its source?
    Is there a way to copy directly from one site to another? Both my live and staging sites would be on the same server. Thinking it would use unnecessary bandwidth to copy out and the back in to the same server.

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      1) Yes. The off-site backup is the source.
      2) No, but when you start the clone, source and destination files and compared, and identical websites are skipped. This should save a huge amount of bandwidth, since staging and live websites usually differ by no more than a few MB.

  2. serveradmin

    I just get the “Could not connect to the test script (HTTP status code: 404). Please, check the provided FTP path.”

    I tried it to replace an existing page on the same server and it worked out fine. Now I try to load to a place before I point the domain there, and it doesn´t work. So this is more like a real life situation. You develop the page at a devsite with a subdomain for some time. When it is done the page will be moved to a new spot on the server with an ip adresse. Finally you change the dns to point at the new spot.

    Another likely scenario that i havnt tried yet, but is up next is to install the worker at a customers existing page. The smaller customers usually have crappy servers so SEO wont work, so thats the first thing to fix. I want to move the site to a new server, and then point the dns in the right direction.

    So far i have not gotten the first move and then point domain later scenario to work. How do I get it done?

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      That new spot on the server needs to be accessed both via FTP (we use it to upload the test file) and HTTP (we use it to access the file). If you have that, the rest is a piece of cake.

      Have you tried using the URL structure like – most big hosting companies like Bluehost give you to option of generating this temporary URL.

      You could also contact us at with more details, and we’d be happy to help.

  3. paulsadamson

    are the any tutorials for this? specifically with regards to Database username & password. How can I provide those, do I need to create a database ??
    I’ve had truly terrible experiences with other cloning tools so i’m hoping this is my new solution.

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      We’re working on clone improvements, it won’t be long before Clone tool becomes your new best friend.

      The tutorials will also be ready in next 30 days. When cloning to a new destination (where there’s no WordPress), you need to provide the database details (you probably need to create that database). If there’s already a WordPress site on the destination, the system simply uses the existing database, and you don’t have to enter anything.

      If you encounter any problems, our Customer Happiness team will be happy to help.

  4. serveradmin

    We have tried it before orion, but didn’t work for us. Now we are looking for a solution. Just tried migrate db pro, but it didn’t work and if so, I found out it wouldn´t move themes and plugins anyway. Now I want to check out the new version and this is what I hope to find:

    It needs to be super simple. And user friendly. And move everything. Handle serialized data well, move the plugins, every kind of themes, theme settings, media files and everything else. Working on all servers. If it does new path and url automatic that sounds good. Writing the file path is a stupid source of errors if its done enough times. Does that require installing wordpress with a wp worker on the destination? Or how does it know? Asking the user like in the old version would in my mind not be very bright. I just saw from the video that entering a file path is optional, and guess that is if you don´t have installed anything on the target ftp and sql.

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Right now Orion clones to a new destination, without WordPress. We’ll soon be rolling out the option to clone to an existing site (a WordPress website on your ManageWP dashboard, with the ManageWP Worker plugin active), so it’ll be a matter of a couple of “you’re the source, you’re the destination, now get moving!” clicks.

      I totally agree (and have seen it in the support tickets) that people tend to mess up forms a lot, that’s why we always recommended cloning to an existing website.

  5. Paul

    Love the Orion tooling.

    For backup/cloning we would like to know is there in the planning to be also be able to backup and include external folders and database on backup like folders outside wp-content and some database/tables.


  6. mel

    Great feature I’ve been long awaiting. Couple questions:

    1. Why do you say not to use this on live sites yet? If I only go from live > staging, could this cause any problems/glitches with the live site at all?

    2. Any plans to have a option to disable some plugins on clone, and even toggle ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ from the settings > Reading screen. This can be a nice shortcut when cloning to a staging site and back to live.

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Hi Mel,
      1. The Clone tool works way better than other cloning solutions on the market, but we still need to run “field tests”, i.e. clone websites on a lot of different server setups, so we could work out the kinks. The Clone tool is perfectly safe for the source site, since it only reads the data.
      2. The discourage option is already on our to-do list, should be done in the next month or so. Could you tell me more about the practical application of an option to disable a plugin?

  7. olli

    Should it copy .htaccess?

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      The .htaccess file is not being cloned, for a good reason.

      Different servers have different configurations, and in a lot of cases, copying the .htaccess file from another server will crash the WordPress installation, or deny access.
      What we do is, once the website has been cloned, to call up WordPress to create a new .htaccess file, together with plugin hooks.

      1. Olli

        > What we do is, once the website has been cloned, to call up WordPress to create a new .htaccess file, together with plugin hooks.

        Whether this should happen automatically?

        1. Nemanja Aleksic

          Yes, it’s automatic.

          1. Olli

            well, it didnt work that way.

        2. Nemanja Aleksic

          That’s strange, although I’ve seen different server configs cause stranger issues. Could you get in touch with us at so we could investigate?


  8. petaqui

    Awesome being able to read about news, and having fun at the same time. Really great! And true the part of “Making changes to a live website is exciting, in an “I am sooo dead if I don’t fix this before anyone notices” kind of way. I’ve crashed websites. I’ve broken forms, made whole sections of sites disappear. Learning was fun”

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      It’s not an omelette if you don’t break a few eggs!

  9. Guy Lev

    Thats very nice! Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work.

  10. mlux

    I have no Orange Clone button in the Orion Back up area.. Am I missing something here?

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      That’s weird. Could you send us Feedback through the Orion dashboard so we’d know your account, and investigate?

      1. Andrea Gatley

        I noticed this on one of mine as well, I just clicked on an earlier date in the calendar and it showed up again.

        1. Nemanja Aleksic

          Thanks for the additional info, we’ll try to replicate it and get it fixed ASAP.

  11. Andrea Gatley

    For some reason the clone tool didn’t move my theme styling over. All of the content is there, just none of the theme changes I made. Weird.

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Hi Andrea,
      Could you get in touch with our developers? We’d very much like to investigate to see why this happened. You can either email me at or use the Feedback option on the Orion dashboard (hover over your account name > Send Us Feedback)

      1. Andrea Gatley

        Sure thing. Sent it as feedback.

      2. Hamid Peya

        Same thing happens with me. Theme settings were set to default after a successful clone. So i export theme settings from original source and import them in cloned site. Working fine now. But why it happens at first place? that’s the question for your developers.

        1. Nemanja Aleksic

          We have a few ideas, but we need to investigate first. Could you contact us (contact info is in my previous reply) so our developers could join the action?

  12. a.schimpf

    Nice done! I´ve given it a try under Apache and it worked like a charm. Faster & nicer as the classic one. I´m happy! :-) Keep up the good work!

    Cheers Alex

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Thanks, Alex!

  13. Jay

    Where is the clone tool?

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Hi Jay,
      The Clone tool is not a separate tool, at least for now.
      Go to the Orion backup screen. You will see an orange Clone button, as shown on the screenshot in the article.

  14. info

    It would be great if you could schedule a clone in the same way as backup

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      What would be the benefit you would get from a scheduled clone?

  15. ellegaard

    I do a lot of work on trains and airplanes and other places, where the internet connection is unreliable. So most of my development is done on the local system using Desktopserver from ServerPress.
    Is there any way, that I can get a local hosted website hooked up on ManageWP, so I can use this wonderfull new tool?

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      We already have an article and a User Guide entry that explains how to add a localhost website to ManageWP:

      It’s an older article, some things might be outdated, but it should get the job done.

  16. darren

    Great, I would love to see the Client Reporting feature being able to select which sections go into the report and also what updates and backups have been done added as a section. With those I would automate the clients reports but without that I would not be happy to send the default reports to clients.

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Hi Darren,
      You’re already able to choose which sections go into the report.
      Backups have their own section, is there something you’d like to change in the content or layout?
      Updates will get their own section, with a detailed report about the plugin name, versions – the whole shabang :)

      1. darren

        lol, thanks for pointing that out. I completely missed the checkboxes on the right on the old system and just looked at it in detail.

        1. Nemanja Aleksic

          Yeah, a lot of new stuff can get you confused if you’re used to the Classic dashboard.
          We’re working on a better onboarding that will make your user experience more enjoyable, should be done in a month or so.

  17. peter

    “the Clone tool falls back to FTP file transfer to complete the task. It is a bit slower, but way more reliable method.”
    Fantastic! – unfortunately our server is still on PHP 5.2 (legacy sites) so the original cloner wouldn’t work. But now a test is happily chugging along!

    We have a temple site that we copy from one sub-domain to another for dev sites. It’s very quick copying the files within the server itself, but updating the database is always a problem. Is it in your plans to enable a clone DB only, (and maybe wp-config and update it), that could save a lot.

    Great work Guys!

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Hi Peter,
      I strongly advise moving to at least PHP 5.3 – it’s faster, safer, and it will give you less headaches with plugin/theme compatibility.

      As far as the quick cloning suggestion goes, it’s actually in there already! Instead of overwriting everything, the Orion Clone tool compares the source and destination files, and skips the identical files. In your particular scenario, it will clone only the database and the files that are new, or that have been altered.
      This will result in a much faster and more reliable cloning process, because instead of using a 2GB archive and overwriting everything, the system could cherry pick just a few MB of changes and complete everything in seconds.
      I will update the article with this info, thanks!

      1. peter

        Yes, been trying to upgrade our server for the last couple of years… Will go to 5.6 when I do it.

        After I posted this I wondered if this might be the case – great to see.
        How far away is the Maintenance mode update into Orion? And will it be possible to have a default page, that can be overwritten per site if needed?

        1. Nemanja Aleksic

          Maintenance mode is coming in a month or so.
          I’ve forwarded the per-site suggestion to our Product Manager. It sounds like a good idea, but we need to see if it’s feasible.
          Thanks for your feedback!

  18. Donna McMaster

    Looks cool!
    Question: is this modifying the database contents for the new path (and possibly new URL)? Or are you assuming we’ll do that ourselves as a separate step?

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Hi Donna,
      Everything is handled automatically by the Clone tool. It knows the destination URL and database details (from the clone form you fill out), and it updates accordingly.

  19. brianjosephking

    If I’m currently in mirroring mode between classic & Orion how can I clone an existing site to a new site on the same server?

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Should be pretty straightforward:
      – Go to the backup page of the source site
      – Choose a backup you want to use
      – Click the Clone button
      You’ll have to add the website through the Classic dashboard, because of the mirror mode. Once the Classic dashboard gets phased out, you will be able to add the new website to ManageWP automatically.

  20. me

    Will give this tool a go over the coming week on a test site I have deployed. Many thanks to the team for your hard work!

    With regards to feedback, would certainly love to have the ability to schedule Performance and Security scans, to something like weekly. When we start monitoring a larger number of sites it becomes quite a manual process to scan each and everyone. If that was automated and would alert us to issues on a weekly basis (as example) it would certainly cut back on man hours required for that single task.

    Thanks again!

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Yes, fully automated Performance and Security checks are coming, together with SMS notifications to give you a heads up if we pick up something out of the ordinary.

  21. kontakt

    Great, thank you! ManageWP Orion is a really precious tool and has become even more valuable :-)

  22. Scott

    It is really a wonderful tool. It will not only save the developer’s precious time but also increase productivity to many folds.
    Keep it up.

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Thanks, Scott!

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