Recently, in version 1.15.0/2.15.0 of UpdraftPlus, the company added a new feature for the plugin called UpdraftClone. We know from the Taking WordPress Backups: With UpdraftPlus tutorial that I really like the plugin and use it on my WordPress sites. In this blog we will go over what UpdraftClone is and how it works.
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So what is UpdraftClone? UpdraftClone is a feature that allows you to clone your site over to UpdraftPlus' servers to create a sandbox for your website. So, unlike the migration feature of UpdraftPlus, you do not have to worry about putting it on a localhost or to another server. The clone will be automatically uploaded to Updraft for 24 hours, you can add more time if you want, and then it is removed.
UpdraftClone works on a token system. You buy tokens and then use them for your migration, 1 token equals 24 hours and then an additional token per week. Pricing and a great FAQ can be found at https://updraftplus.com/updraftclone/. Premium members get a couple of free tokens to play around with the feature, but the feature is open to both free and premium versions.
To get started, you just need to have version 1.15.0+ of the UpdraftPlus plugin. I will be using my blog, tastycin.com, to test drive this cloning feature. The cloning feature can be found in the configuration of UpdraftPlus under the Migrate / Clone setting tab. Just click on the "Create a temporary clone on our servers (UpdraftClone)" button to get started. Once you click on the button you will need to sign in to your UpdraftPlus account.
Once you agree to the terms of service you get to pick how you want your sandbox setup. By default UpdraftClone will choose your server's PHP version and current version of WordPress. The PHP versions range from 5.4 - 7.3. I really like the addition of PHP and excited to see PHP 7.3 included; It will make for a great testing environment especially since quite a few WordPress websites are not even on PHP 7+.
You can also choose if you just want the site administrator to login to the clone site. Once you have your settings done, you can click on "Create Clone". Once the cloning has finished, you will get an email with your login URLs and a note that your clone will be renewed automatically, as long as there are a sufficient amount of tokens. This can be disabled in your account settings.
In your my account for UpdraftPlus, you get the ability to manage your clone and look at access/error logs. I think this is a nice touch, especially when working with new PHP versions. You can also delete your clone from this panel as well. I wish there were more options here, such as the ability to change PHP versions, but it might come in an update to the product.
Overall, I really love this feature. I like that it involves both PHP and WordPress testing. I can see this really hitting off when WordPress 5 comes out and people want to test to ensure compatibility. Hopefully we will see the numbers start to decrease of WordPress installs running on PHP 5.
As mentioned above, there is no way, currently, to change PHP versions from the my account section. Which I wish they had, only because if you wanted to try different PHP versions at once, you could. There is also no SSH or SFTP access. I'm okay with the lack of SFTP access, but I would have liked SFTP only to further test a few things, like rolling back plugins if it breaks.