The WPMU DEV cloning tool duplicates a site’s files and database and re-creates them in a new WordPress installation, resulting in a new site identical to the original but with a new domain name.

Cloning is useful for creating your own template sites where you configure your favorite plugins and themes, and then clone the template to produce a new site with much of the initial configuration already complete. Or you can create cloned sites using existing pre-configured site templates we provide with the theme & plugins pre-installed.

Cloning can also be used to move a site’s hosting location from one geographic location to another. See Migrate a Site to a New Region below for more info.

15.1 What is cloning?

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Cloning generates an exact copy of a site— including themes, plugins, content and site settings– and uses those files to create a new site with a temporary domain. Once the cloning process is complete, use our Adding Domains guidance to add the new site’s permanent domain.

The new site will be added to your account at the same hosting level as the original site, which means that cloning a silver plan site will result in a new silver plan site being added to the account. Site plans can be upgraded or downgraded at any time from My Account.

Cloning does not copy domains, SFTP/SSH users, and staging configurations.

15.2 Clone an existing site

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Navigate to the Hosting tab of your Hub and click the menu icon (three dots) of any site to access a drop-down menu. Click the Clone Site option.

Hosting clone site from list

You can also access the Clone screen by clicking the Clone button at top-right while viewing the Hosting control panel of any hosted site.

Hosting clone from site

Next, choose to clone a site you already have hosted here, or clone one of the template sites we provide. If you want to clone one of your existing sites, click the “Clone from my sites” button and select the site to be cloned from the dropdown.

Hosting select site to clone

The cloned site will reside temporarily on a wpmudev.host domain, which can be replaced later with a permanent domain. Enter the temporary domain name you prefer into the field provided, and click the blue arrow to proceed.

Hosting cloned site url

Next, use the drop-down menu to select where you would like the new site to be hosted, geographically. We recommend choosing a location as close as possible to your primary audience in order to minimize distance-related performance issues.

Hosting cloned site location

When ready, click the blue arrow to proceed and the cloning process will begin. The time required to clone a site relies entirely on the size of the site. Some sites may take only a few minutes, while others may take hours. Either way, the site admin will receive an email notification when the new site is ready.

15.3 Clone from a template

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If you want to clone one of the pre-configured template sites, click the “Clone from template” button instead and select the template to be cloned. Then follow the remaining steps as outlined above.

Hosting clone from template

Our templates are built exclusively with popular free themes and plugins found in the WordPress repository, in addition to our Pro plugins. Defender, Smush, Hummingbird, Forminator, Beehive, and SmartCrawl are all enabled and the settings are optimized for the site. There’s a default Forminator contact form on each template as well.

At the present time, these are the available templates you can choose from:

  • Vanilla – This is a standard WordPress install with the default Twenty-Twenty theme enabled, plus our WPMU DEV plugins activated, optimized, and ready to use.
  • WooCommerce – The Astra theme, essential WooCommerce plugins, and the Hubspot plugin for lead management. All the eCommerce tools you need and created completely with Gutenberg blocks.
  • Agency – Using the Neve theme; a flexible Gutenberg site for agencies and small businesses.
  • Business – Colibri theme; use the Colibri page builder for a complete business website.
  • Charity – With Elementor page builder & GiveWP plugin, this is ideal for non-profit websites with donations built right in.
  • Freelancer – An Astra theme with Beaver Builder, perfect for individual consultants and freelancers.

When you choose to clone a site from a provided template, you’ll also be prompted to create the administrator account to use for the cloned site.

Hosting cloned site admin account

15.4 Migrate a Site to a New Region

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If you wish to migrate an existing site to a different hosting region, using the Cloning feature is the simplest way to get that done.

Start by following the instructions in the Clone an existing site chapter above and, when you get to the Server Location step, select the new region where you’d like your site to be located.

Once the site has been cloned, take some time to verify that everything works as expected on the new cloned site.

When you’re satisfied that all is well on the new cloned site, go to the Domains tab of the original site in your Hub, and delete your domain name from there. Then go to the Domains tab of the new cloned site, and add the domain name to the new site.

Then adjust the DNS settings of the domain name to point it to the new cloned site.

Finally, once both DNS and SSL check green in your Hub for the new cloned site, delete the old original site. Done.

See the Domains documentation for more info on domains and DNS.

Does it cost me anything to move the site like this?

That really depends on how much time you take between creating the new cloned site and deleting the old original site.

For example, let’s say you want to move a site that is currently costing you $10/month, and you clone it on the 1st day of the hosting billing cycle for that site.

The new cloned site would create an additional hosting instance on the same plan as the original, and you would incur an additional charge of $10/month for that new site.

If you delete the original site after taking a couple of days to verify the cloned site, your account would be credited a pro-rated amount for the remaining time in the current billing cycle of the original site. So the above example would actually cost you only 2 days of hosting for the original site (about $0.64).

Here are a few examples to give you a better idea of how pro-rating hosting credits would work:

Scenario A:

  • You pay for site A – day 1/30.
  • You clone it to site B on day 5 of site A’s billing cycle.
  • If you delete site A minutes after cloning it, you would get 30-5 days of pro-rated account credits.

Scenario B:

  • You pay for site A – day 1/30.
  • You clone it to site B on day 5 of site A’s billing cycle.
  • You then wait until day 15 to delete site A. You would get 30-15 days of pro-rated account credits.

Scenario C:

  • You pay for site A – day 1/30.
  • You clone it to site B on day 5 of site A’s billing cycle.
  • You then wait until day 29/30 to delete site A. You would get 30-29 days of pro-rated account credits.

See How WPMU DEV Hosting Credits Work for more info on hosting credits.

15.5 Troubleshooting

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Analytics

If you had the Analytics feature enabled in the WPMU DEV Dashboard on the original site, you may see those same statistics appear on the cloned site as well.

To fix this possible issue and reset stats for the cloned site, simply deactivate the Analytics feature in the WPMU DEV Dashboard on the cloned site. Then click the “Check again” link in “We last checked for updates [x] hours/mins/seconds ago – Check again” at the bottom of the screen.

Once you reactivate the Analytics feature, the stats will be fresh and relevant to only the cloned site.

Refresh WPMU DEV Analytics data on cloned site

Database

Note that when cloning a site, the database name of the new site will be identical to the original site’s database name, and cannot be changed.

This is by design as some sites might have huge databases, and “renaming a database” function doesn’t exist in phpMyAdmin. So to have a new database name on the cloned site, the process would be export, create new, import, delete old. That process could create disk space issues and could break at any point, so we decided to just transfer everything “as is” to the new cloned site.

This should not be an issue at all as each hosted site is a totally separate hosting instance, and the new database of the new cloned site would be tied to only that site.