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  • How to configure a staging server

    Posted on July 2nd, 2009 phpguru No comments

    I just finished re-reading this post from a few hours ago and realized it has way too much detail and anecdotal information that most people aren’t going to want or need. What you need to know is the safest and easiest way to configure your staging server during a website redesign.

    The goals are:

    1. Leave current website untouched while creating a new site at a staging URL
    2. Has to be easy to configure, reliable and repeatable at different ISPs
    3. Should require the least amount of effort & special skills to set up
    4. Should require the least amount of fiddling with your application code
    5. Should require the least amount of tweaking right at launch time

    If you want to set up a staging server the easy way, here are my recommendations:

    1. Create a new hosting account based on the name of the main domain. DNS isn’t pointed to the staging server yet, but don’t worry about that. Chances are the new site will be avaliable at http://some.ip.ad.dress/~account/ but that’s ugly and not user-friendly.
    2. Add a parked domain to facilitate previewing, testing and approvals. Take advantage of the fact that a parked domain name can resolve to the staging server IP before the main domain is pointed. In essence, the parked domain is the staging domain and resolves to the staging server’s IP during and after development.
    3. Edit your local hosts file periodically to test the site at the main URL without having to change DNS entries at your provider.
    4. At launch, update the DNS for the main domain and point it to the IP of the staging server. There should be nothing more to do or configure differently because the web server was already programmed to serve the main domain in step 1.

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