Steps To Synchronize WordPress Live & Development Databases

Today, we are going to discuss about one of the major hurdles in the WordPress development realm. And it’s none other than Synchronizing Databases.

The topic gets raised almost every week at the local WordPress meetups and forums. It starts with a question if I make any changes in my local site, will I be able to spot any difference or change to the live site?

What is Database Synchronization?

It is a simple yet not so simple process used to establish data consistency between two or more databases. The sync is done by automatically copying changes back and forth. In the WordPress development realm, merging databases often causes a bottleneck effect on professionals. Working on a local development copy of a site that also has a live version running can be insanely tricky at times. And this certainly leads to huge blunders in all the database-driven content management systems. Earlier there was no easy way to reconcile these changes seamlessly but now we do! Keep reading further to know more.

Now, do you really think that those who have real content, developing WordPress theme becomes a cakewalk? Certainly not! Even they happen to face unexpected situations while adding pages, posts, media and comments. A few reasons that might ruin your beautiful WordPress template include:

  • Excessive use of assets which are too big or small for your breakpoints to handle
  • As soon as a manager introduces a new menu item which doesn’t fit at lower screen sizes
  • When the theme implements a two-level menu hierarchy (and it is unable to cater third-level page)
  • All the long or deeply-nested comments become unreadable

This is the reason why experienced WordPress developers highly recommend a snapshot or a screenshot of your live production. Moreover, try synchronizing the content automatically as soon as the changes occur.

Getting Started

By now, I am sure you must be done with all your three development stages; Local, testing and live. I have created a scenario where I would like to update the local site content with the one on the live site. By doing this I am sure you will get a better perspective on database merging real-life issues.

To sync the database, follow these steps:

Step 1- Install the WordPress plugin called Database Sync where you want to perform the database migration. For example, if you want to pull data from the live stage to the testing stage, install the plugin for these two stages.

Step 2- In the live site; go to Tools > Database Sync. Here you will get to generate the secret token key. Make sure that you don’t share it with anyone or else they would be able to access your database as well.


Step 3 – Add the token key to Tools > Database Sync of the local site.

Step 4- As soon as you click the “Sync” button, both the sites will start synchronizing.

Step 5- Click the Pull button to pull the remote site database down and replace the local site.

More about Synchronization

In a certain way, WordPress database replication can be more challenging than you expect. However, there are a few reasons why WordPress developers would love to experiment in the area.

Data Differences

It is quite obvious to know that WordPress as a platform stores a wide range of configuration settings in its database. It includes everything right from the domain name and paths which are used throughout posts and asset references. The task is all about importing the information into a local database. Quite simple actually! But you never know one wrong move can lead to undesired consequences. Everything might look as it worked but the image and link URLs could be taking you back to square one.

In addition to this, WordPress serializes some data. It can be difficult to parse and change those values.

Multiple Installations

Are you working with a sole professional or do you like to consult a WordPress development company? Synchronization becomes less complicated when you choose the latter part. After all, choosing a company means you are choosing a space featuring multiple developers, staging servers, and possibly more than on the production server.

Databases and more

In a general scenario, WordPress stores upload images and other media in the local file system. Which certainly must be downloaded and the database references must be updated accordingly.

So before taking any step further, one must ensure theme and plugin files are synchronized, enabled and configured appropriately. That said, you possibly do not want certain plugins enabled, e.g. multi-site, caching, etc.

Best WordPress Synchronization Plugins

  • WP Sync DB
  • VersionPress
  • WPSiteSync for Content
  • Database Sync
  • WordPress Importer
  • SyncDB
  • WP Staging
  • PushLive

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