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How To Move a WordPress Site (or clone it)

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by PotPieGirl on December 5, 2011 · 52 comments

I don’t consider myself a lazy person for the most part, but I will admit that when it comes to anything technical – I avoid it like the plague. I’m probably the only person in this house who still really doesn’t know how to work the remote (and we have little kids ’round here) and if it wasn’t for my hubby, every clock in the house would be wrong – or blinking 12:00. That wonderful trait of mine has stuck with me while working online – if it’s gonna involve coding or databases or anything like that – I run the other way.

Thank GOODNESS technical know-how is NOT a necessity to do well online – or else I’d be up a creek without a paddle…lol!

I’m also realistic. I am a one-woman show who only has so much time in a day to get things done. If something is gonna take me a LONG time to accomplish simply because I don’t know how, I either a) don’t do it, or b) pay someone else to do it.

For me, that’s a good idea. I’m someone who breaks things until they work and it can drive those around me CRAZY. What can I say? It’s a gift ;)

For example – I will stress and get all OCD when setting up a new WordPress site. The settings have to be just-so… the theme has to look just-so…and I’ll spend too much time editing php files to remove things I don’t want or make things look a certain way and on and on and on (please, someone tell me that I am not the only one that does this?)

Each time I spend ALL that time breaking the theme and messing up the settings until I finally get it right, I promise myself that I will NOT waste time like that again and that I WILL LEARN how to clone a WordPress site.

Also, I have a site that Google totally fell OUT of love with – and I really like the site. However, the thought of recreating that site on a new domain name was NOT appealing to me at all. No telling WHAT I would break during THAT process…lol!

I know there are plenty of programs that make it easier to move WordPress sites (or clone them), but each one I’ve looked at required me messing with the WordPress data base and doing FTP stuff. Not that any of that is HARD, I just….well… I didn’t want to mess with all that (maybe I am lazy? Hmmmm….food for thought there…)

I made a Google Panda Survival Tips post not too long ago – you can read that Panda Tips post here, if you haven’t already. The rest of this post might make more sense if you’ve read it first.

In that post I talked about the (then) latest Panda update and I also showed a graphic of a Twitter conversation of one webmaster finding out from Matt Cutts (from Google) that because his site DID have violating content on it at one time, that they (Google) would NOT accept the webmasters reinclusion request.

Thing is, when that webmaster had submitted his re-inclusion request to Google, the webmaster had deleted ALL the content from his site – he was just hoping to get a clean slate with his domain.

To me, that’s a bit scary.

Then, I went on to give tips on how to Survive Panda…and then talked about things you can do if your site had already been hit.

I said to first ask yourself, “Was that site making me money?” (ok, that was actually the SECOND thing I recommended. The first was to cry, play sad songs, and eat a pan of brownies)

Then, get yourself a NEW domain and move the old “un-loved” site to that new domain.

Now I KNOW there are people who are ready to scream, “Jennifer! That is a horrible idea!!!!” and that I should say – “try and fix your site, sit there for days, weeks, or months on end and try to figure out WHY the site went down the toilet and try to get Google to love you again”

Guess what? I ain’t gonna do it.

There are groups of marketers online that can totally afford both financially and time-wise to sit, analyze, and wait.

I am not talking to those people.

I am talking to those out there that are like me – one-man/one-woman shows who have limited time and really can’t afford to see an income stream disappear for weeks or months – or forever.

If there is a way I can help someone from THAT group of people to get that income stream back – and it costs less than $10 a YEAR – that is an option I am giving. If it doesn’t work, you’re out $10 or less. However, if it DOES work, you have your income stream back!

I think it is silly to obsess over a site that broke – and not DO something about it. Especially if that site was profitable.

So, if all that makes sense to you – keep reading. If you think this is a horrible idea/advice – ignore me =)

For Those NOT Ignoring Me – Let’s Continue

So I have this niche site – it’s been online for 2-3 years or so now. It used to do AWESOME… I mean, really great.

Then one day, out of the blue – POOF – Google broke up with me.

(enter tears, sad break-up songs, and large pan of brownies)

Now I did spend some time REALLY looking at the site to see if I could even get a clue as to what went wrong. I tried a few things – and would wait… then try some more things… and wait, but it never came back.

The site had really good core content. Not just unique content, but good, informational stuff. I, personally, learned a lot making the site and to me, that is a good indicator that my site can help someone else.

One thing I know USED to be fine with the site, but now is no longer fine with Google, is that I allowed some unique auto-content on the site to keep fresh stuff dripping in. Not a ton, but the ratio of my content to other content was not in my favor. Other than that, the site was pretty harmless.

So I made the big decision to pack up my toys and move to a new domain. Hey, if it’s over, it’s over, right? No use dwelling on past relationships that are broken – move on!

I cleaned up all the auto-content and took it off my site (was one of the things I did when trying to fix my relationship with Google) and got the site to exactly as I wanted it on the new domain.

Enter Problem.

Remember how I talked about what a mess I am with technical stuff? Yeah, well that was the problem. MOVING the site was an issue for me, but by golly, I was gonna figure out how to do it for myself.

I looked and looked – but all the solutions had things going on that I didn’t want to deal with.

I wanted: Click, Click, BOOM, I’m done. Guess what? I found my click, click, BOOM!

I found a plugin that all I had to do was:

Get the plugin
– Install/Activate the plugin
– Click “back up”
– Copy the url it gave me
– Go to my new site (wordpress already installed)
– Install/activate the plugin
– Paste the url in where the plugin asks

BOOM – the entire site is moved to the new domain EXACTLY how it was on the old domain.

Everything! Posts, themes, theme changes, plugins, plugin settings, site settings – ALL of it!

No FTP, no messing with databases…just click and copy/paste click.

Now THAT is my kind of plug-in!!!!!

==>>> Check out the video about this plugin here

I moved this site with this plugin about a week ago and wanted to see it through before talking about it. I’m pleased to report my new site is doing very well in Google now.

Few notes about this process: No, I did not forward/redirect the old site/urls to the new site. I wanted to see how it all would work on its own. Also, I am making sure good, informational, and unique content is going on this new site regularly. Google loves fresh, and I also want to be sure that the new site does as well as possible and doesn’t get nailed again (however, no one can be SURE of that – just giving my new site a good chance)

Know what else I LOVE this plugin for?

I made one fresh install of WordPress on a site and tweaked it just the way I like it to be before I go adding content. Things like permalinks, and theme edits, plugins I like, and all that stuff that isn’t hard, but is annoying to spend time on (in fact, it’s a waste of time if there is another way to do it much faster).

Once I got that “pre-set up” just the way I like it, I used the plugin to make a clone of it (which means I push a button and it gives me a url to use for other sites). Then, when I start any new site, I just give the plugin that url, click and BOOM – the site is ready to go and all the way I want it. I can just go change the title of the site and start adding content.

It’s a beautiful thing!

I KNOW folks struggle with that basic set up. Things like making the permalinks right, and tweaking themes, and adding plugins, and getting their privacy pages and all that STUFF we have to do before we ever can begin to add the content to the site. And hey, it’s the CONTENT that makes money, right? No web pages online = no money coming in.

With this plugin we can do all that time-consuming stuff ONCE and we can use it over and over and get right to the money-making content.

NOW, when I start a new site, all I have to do is:

– buy the domain name/change nameservers
– add domain to my hosting
– install wordpress
– go to new site wp-admin
– install this plugin
– tell plugin what url to restore from

I don’t know what YOUR new site check list looks like, but my old check list was LONG and time-consuming. I like saving time… I like it a lot!

Know what else this plug in is awesome for?

Now, not everyone is into local marketing like I am (what we teach over at Power3Marketing.com), but with local clients, sometimes they just want a “clone” of a site out there targeting specific local markets. That used to be a pain in the you-know-what to do (and I’d charge accordingly…lol), but now it’s click, BOOM (and I still charge the same). Then I can just get in there, tweak it for location needs, add a little fresh content – and I am done.

Note: if none of that makes sense to you – sorry! However, if you’re in local marketing – especially a fellow Power3 Member, this might sound awesome to you!

This is what the inside of the plugin interface looks like:

Yep, that’s it! Nothing complicated or overwhelming at all!

You just click “Backup This Site” on the site you want a copy of, it then gives you a url, then you go paste that url into the plugin interface on the new domain and choose “Restore from this URL”. That’s it!

Oh yeah, it’s great for backing up your WordPress site too. As someone who once had her blog hacked and woke up to find YEARS of blog posts gone – I am a BIG advocate of protecting your site by backing it up. With a back up, it took me like 5 minutes to totally restore my site (sorry hacker). You can read the story of my blog being hacked in this issue of an old PotPieGirl “Straight Talk” Newsletter.

All in all, THREE thumbs up for this plugin. I like things easy – and simple – and this has made my life SOOOOOO much easier!

You can find the plugin here – watch a video demo and all that good stuff. Trust me, it’s awesome (Hmmmm….do I sound like a used-car salesman when I say “trust me”? lol!)

Let me know what you think!


Allan James December 5, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Huh, I beat you too it :-) For about a month now I’ve had what I call my default blog all set up, tweaked, themed, site and permalink settings done, favorite plugins installed – everything ready and only needing content to be ready to roll.

A few days ago I decided to launch an Amazon site to cash in on the Xmas buying spree. No problem, the plugin saved me a huge amount of time!

As we say in the military (in New Zealand anyway), that backup/restore/clone plugin is a good bit of kit.

PotPieGirl December 5, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Awesome, Allan! I’m slow, but I get there eventually…lol!


Jon December 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Just like you I avoid techie stuff as much as possible but some things we have to learn to do for ourselves as we go. Actually with techie stuff I think you are a bit cleverer than you let on.

BackUpCreator is an excellent plugin as are most of Robert Plank’s products. I was fortunate to get it at the special pre-launch price and it has been upgraded at least half a dozen times since so any of your subscribers who follow your advice and buy I can assure them they wont regret it.

PotPieGirl December 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Hey Jon =)

If clever= break it ’til it works… yep, that’s me…lol!

I AM stubborn tho – so I will FORCE something to work. Another endearing quality of mine ;)

Good to know about updates and support, thanks!


Vi with "Gotta Love Internet Marketing" December 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm

OMGoodness… this is awesome. I was about ready to take a nap, but who needs a nap when there are wonderful new toys to play with! :) ( and I love the brownies part,lol)

PotPieGirl December 5, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Hey Vi =)

This toy is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

and brownies….yum!


stevewyman December 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Hi PotPieGirl

Thats a usefull plugin thanks a lot.

Ive been using managewp which had this functionality in it during Beta testing. Now they are about to charge. The cost for the option with backup is around $80 a month more than with out (other features included but i dont need those). So this is a great cost saver.

Thanks again

PotPieGirl December 5, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Hey =)

Yeah, I looked into that too… and still might test it out. Sure wish I got in when it was free!


James Hussey December 6, 2011 at 12:27 am

Well I’ve been on with ManageWP since the beginning, and love it – but for cloning? No, all it does is make it so you can do the typical WordPress cloning process, which for me was too complicated – so though I have both ManageWP and BC, I chose BC for the ease of use.

No offense to Vladimir Prelovac, the MWP plugin does a LOT of things and it’s worth looking into if you have many sites, really a time saver…but I didn’t like the cloning. Far from what I’d call “easy” but I’m sort of a technophobe.

PotPieGirl December 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Thanks for the feedback about cloning with WPM – didn’t know that.

I’m the same way, James… while the others look easy, it’s not easy enough for me. I like to click and be done… no messing with FTP or databases.


Genevieve December 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Doesn’t EZ Cloner do the same thing for free?

PotPieGirl December 7, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Not sure, I’ll have to check it out. Does it require FTP and database work?


Dolors December 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Hello and thank you very much for this post. I am actually on your list but I never posted anything before I think.

I have a site that is doing well, and I want to create a Spanish version of it in a different domain. Keep the same settings, theme, etc… I guess this plug-in copies everything, so I would have a problem with duplicate content if I used it? With time, obviously I need to translate the whole site, but I want it to look pretty much the same.

Do you recommend another plug-in in this case?

Thank you very much in advance and congratulations on your success :-)

PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:38 am

Hiya Dolors =)

I’m sorry, but I don’t do stuff with different languages. Perhaps someone else has some advice? If so, chime in.


Dolors December 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

No problems, thanks for replying :-)

PCRoger December 5, 2011 at 10:55 pm

WordPress Duplicator plugin is free

PotPieGirl December 5, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Good to know Roger and Genevieve, thank you!

Do either of these require FTP work or changing info in the wp database?


Kirk December 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Thanks for the post Jennifer!
Question – so its OK to move the old posts to the new site/domain? This isnt duplicate content?

PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:39 am

Hiya Kirk =)

Is it “ok”? Who really knows…lol! That’s why I try and test things to see for myself how it all goes. However, as for ‘duplicate content’… based on the true definition, no it’s not.


James Hussey December 6, 2011 at 12:25 am

You too? I thought I was the only one. :)

I have BC and love the thing, really – and it’s one of the cheapest solutions out there. I can’t stand the technical side of cloning / moving WordPress, takes too long and I’m always thinking I’m leaving out a step or going to goof…but this thing just rocks.

No yearly fees, either – totally worth it. Great breakdown on various uses – hadn’t thought of those applications in my own review of the plugin.

Thang December 6, 2011 at 1:53 am

Hi Jennifer,

Great plugin, I currently use WP Twin but it requires their compressed file to be copied to each new site you want to run the clone for. Even though your hosting provider usually would have option to create a skeleton of a site when you create the site’s cPanel, and you can include the clone file in the skeleton, it is still a pain whenever you need to change the template setting, as you would have to create the compressed file and then copy it into your skeleton directory again. So having an URL option as in Backup Creator will definitely save time.

Just one question though: the only thing that stops me from moving my old, under performing sites to new sites is I’m not sure if Google will see the new content as duplicate content. Obviously you will have the majority of the same content on the 2 blogs, is that correct? Even if you take the old blog offline, I thought its pages will remain in the Google cache for some time.

Could you tell me what sequence you did specifically, e.g. create the backup, take the old blog offline, then wait a few days, then create the new site from the backup? And what do you think regarding the duplicate content issue?


PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:42 am

Hiya Thang =)

I didn’t take the old site offline. It still gets traffic from Bing/Yahoo as well as all the traffic sources created for it (non search engines).

I literally cleaned up the site and then moved it. Once the site was moved (all of like 2 minutes later…lol), I did some quick edits and then got to posting new/fresh content.


Sunshine December 6, 2011 at 2:08 am

Hi Jennifer,

I have WP Twin and it works pretty well but this does look really interesting.

With Backup Creator, are you able to create clones of sites you don’t own with the URL feature?

I was a bit confused with the reference you gave of your clients wanting clones of successful sites.

Wasn’t sure if the clones created are only those you own or not.


PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:43 am

Oh no, Sunshine… you sure can’t clone a site you don’t own/have access to.


Bruce Clancy December 6, 2011 at 4:07 am

I have been using this for the last month. It is awesome since I use 15 plugins and several themes which require a lot of setting up. Now I can set up a new site in minutes. Last year I ran into a serious problem with one of my hosts and had to move 7 wp sites. That took the better part of two weeks. Now I keep a backup with this plugin and could move at the drop of a hat

PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:43 am

That’s what I love about it, Bruce – fast simple and EASY!


Lauryn Doll December 9, 2011 at 11:52 am

That’s cool! I purchased Backup Buddy from iThemes and have yet to completely understand it. I’ve probably failed to pay enough attention. *Kanye shrug*

This plugin may come in handy in the event I have another nightmare client like I had sometime last year. He would cancel his sites and businesses, not get backups, then reorder them from his last dedicated hosting person and somehow expect me to whip them back to what they used to be on old antiquated files.

Bruce December 6, 2011 at 5:37 am

I am struggling, desperately, trying to “duplicate” my site on Localhost. will this do it for me?

Heather Bradford December 6, 2011 at 8:49 am

Hi Jennifer, I’m only on day 6 stuff of my WA course. Everything is so new to me. I like the sound of this as I moved my old stuff over to WA hosting one page at a time, cutting and pasting! Is it too soon for me to look into this though? I don’t understand it much at all but see the concept. Thanks.

PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:44 am

Hiya Heather =)

Most likely this is a bit too “soon” for you since you already moved your sites. However, just tuck the knowledge away and know that if the times comes that you need it, you know where to get it.


GV December 6, 2011 at 10:19 am

Seems like a great way to move your WP blog. But, will Google punish it again?
They might and probably will, for the same reasons.

They really take the user experience very seriously, and I’ve seen that they even FOLLOW LINKS on your website to see who you link to.

Say you have the best site ever, really, but you link to a misleading Clickbank Vendor > you’re out.

I know they do this for Adwords (they told me), so it wouldn’t surprise me when they start doing this for organic ranking as well.

And you know what’s funny? How mad where they when they were CENSORED in CHINA?
What are they doing now with what they do and don’t show?

Right :-)

PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:46 am

Will they punish it again? I dunno – heck, I didn’t think it was a site they would punish in the first place.

Only way to find out is to try it and see what happens =)

I have nothing to lose but a few bucks for the new domain name.


Lauryn Doll December 9, 2011 at 11:54 am

I love your sense of risk and adventure.

Brandon December 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Thank you very much for the post Jennifer! I have been wanting to find a simple solution for moving wordpress sites. Big thank you to Roger and Genevieve for the other recommendations as well.

Jeff Bush December 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm

“I don’t consider myself a lazy person for the most part”– I said those exact same words to one of your cohorts a couple weeks ago. Technically challenged but learning and as I learn someone changes the laws or rules. I have a couple websites, squidoo and WP blog that I built myself. Amazing to my grandkids I think and me. Anyway , thanks for a great post and blog. Much appreciate your sharing. If I can learn new stuff just about anyone can.

PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:47 am

Things are always changing around here – that’s what keeps it fun.

You’re doing great!


Elena December 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Jennifer, another great post in 24 hours :)!

A couple of Qs:
1) I wonder whether this plugin better than WP Twin?
2) What about links that original site had?
Did they follow to a new site?
If so it would be interesting to know how it’s possible as a new site has a different URL
3) Did you move your site to a new host?

The second Q is keeping me from moving one of my sites to a new domain?


PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:49 am

Thanks, Elena =)

Better than WP Twin? Well, they both do the same thing, but this one is much easier and faster in my opinion. It works best for *me*

All links on the original site were changed to be correct for the new site. As for EXTERNAL links to the old site – no they still go to the old site (it’s still online).

I did put this new domain on a different hosting account. No real reason other than to balance out the load (I rotate between many accounts often).


Dolors December 6, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I Jennifer, I wrote a comment yesterday but it may have gone straight to your spam folder. Was wondering if you could rescue it and mark it as not spam… Thanks a lot!

PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:50 am

Gotcha – see above =)

Termite Inspection Gold Coast December 6, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Hi Jennifer,

I’m one of your P3 Marketing students and was just about to buy WP Twin when I received your email about this new plugin.
I have the same questions as Elena. Is this plugin better than WP Twin?
I then saw a mention above of free plugins that do the same thing – EZ Cloner and WordPress Duplicator plugin which I wasn’t aware of.
So what’s the advantage of using the paid plugins and if they are better in any way which one, WP Twin or this new one?


PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:51 am

Hiya Catherine =)

I just answered Elena’s questions – see above.

For ME, this plugin works best because it is SO easy. No need to upload files via FTP or mess with the WordPress database. Just click and done.


Bruce December 7, 2011 at 7:22 am

I have the same problem as Dolors!!

Stephen Byrne December 7, 2011 at 9:17 am

Now, this is a great informative post Jennifer, a plugin that w=easily moves sites, I’m in love, seriously, I wonder, if this plugin will make life a lot easier for non tekkies like myself be able to move sites easier when selling on flippa, my last incursion there was soooo stressful!!

PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:52 am

As a fellow non-tekkie – YES it is TONS easier!


Juan Duron December 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm

For Catherine, Elena and anyone else interested, I own both WP Twin and Backup Creator and for anyone like Jennifer who avoids techie stuff, I’d have to say that Backup Creator is easier to use. WP Twin is not that hard to use but involves a few more steps than could be seem confusing especially if you input the wrong url to access the clone you will be installing. Now, I’m no expert – I’ve cloned less than 10 sites but the first ones I did, I made sure I had the How To video up following the steps so I didn’t mess up. Hope that helps.

And thanks Jennifer for another great post.

PotPieGirl December 8, 2011 at 1:52 am

Thanks for helping, Juan!


Linda December 9, 2011 at 9:35 am

Will this plugin also move all your photos over as well, or do you have to re-upload those separately?

Benjamin December 15, 2011 at 6:04 am

Thanks for the post…will check it out

Joe B December 25, 2011 at 10:49 am

I’ve used Backup Buddy, but seems a little more clunky and expensive. This is good news!!

Lauryn Doll December 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm


I’m glad you said it. I gave up on Backup Buddy. iThemes is way overrated. Not really impressed with them that much at all. You have to play around too much and I *never* got BB to work properly!

Brian December 30, 2011 at 6:51 am


I couldn’t agree more with how awesome this plugin is. I was lucky enough to get in early on this plugin.

I use it almost everyday to test and tweak sites on a test domain, then move the whole site effortlessly. First cloner I’ve ever used. From what I here many of the others don’t keep everything in tact.

The developers have continuously updated and upgraded the plugin with bug fixes.

Now as you mentioned I’m using it with local clients and building rent-a-sites. Website building just got much easier.


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