DesktopServer for premium members includes a new import feature that is compatible with the Duplicator plugin. You can find Duplicator in the plugin directory. If you have a live site that you wish to import into DesktopServer, you can use the Duplicator plugin to do this quickly. In this post, I’ll walk you through an example of how to import your site into your localhost DesktopServer. I’ll begin with a brief summary of the steps needed to complete this task followed by a descriptive step-by-step guide with screenshots. Click the thumbnails to zoom in.

  1. First install the Duplicator plugin from the author ‘LifeinTheGrid’ from the WordPress plugin directory.
  2. Create a ZIP package and download the ZIP file to your computer (you do not need the install script).
  3. Delete your ZIP package on your live server for security purposes.
  4. Import the ZIP package using DesktopServer’s Import a website feature.

Before you can use the Duplicator plugin, you will need to check the requirements. Duplicator requires PHP 5.3 or better, WordPress 3.2.1 or better, and you should disable or turn off any caching plugins (and clear them) for a smoother and successful transfer.

Step 1 – Install Duplicator

To install Duplicator, visit your WordPress admin screen and click on the Plugins ? Add New menu. Type ‘Duplicator’ in the search field and install the plugin from the author ‘LifeInTheGrid’. Once installed, activate the plugin. Once activated, you can locate the Duplicator administrator screen from the Tools ? Duplicator menu.

Step 2 – Create and Download a ZIP Package

To create a zip package, provide a valid name in the ‘package name’ field and click the add package button (the first icon with a plus symbol). Duplicator will list the package with a download button when the process completes. Click the download button to download your package. You do not need to download the installer as DesktopServer will not need it.

If you receive an error message while attempting to create the package, you may need to check some key settings in the options panel. You can open the options panel by clicking the options icon (the third button with the image of a gear on it). The options panel includes a ‘System’ tab that allows you to check Duplicator requirements (WordPress ver. 3.2.1, PHP 5.3, etc). Any issues with regards to compatibility will appear in red as ‘Bad’.

The most common issue we had in our tests with Duplicator was with regards to out-of-memory errors. If you are having issues, check the ‘Package’ tab (the first tab) in Duplicator’s options panel. You can bump up the Max Memory Limit by keying in a value that your host can handle to decrease the chances of an out of memory error. Click the Save button to save your changes and try to create the package again.

Another trick to saving memory is to purge your site of any revisions (assuming you no longer need them). Over time, revisions (not drafts or published posts) can build up on your site. Especially if you have created a lot of draft posts and pages or clicked ‘update’ more then once during the process of composing and publishing posts and pages. You might be surprised to find out how much extra data can build up over time. WordPress revisions can also contain duplicate data that is just hogging up extra space. You can purge your revisions to free up additional space by using a plugin from the WordPress plugin directory to manage revisions, such as Better Delete Revisions. Lastly, for very large sites, you may need to omit the wp-content/uploads folder where large amounts of photos, videos, or multimedia content files are stored. You can always transfer these items separately or manually using FTP. The Duplicator plugin allows you to omit directories via the ‘Directory Exclusion’ text box on the Duplicator options panel.

Step 3 – Delete the ZIP Package!

After downloading the ZIP package (you do not need to download the Installer), you should delete the package in Duplicator by clicking the check box to the left of the package and pressing the delete button (it is the second button with a delete ‘x’ icon on it). In our tests, we had to navigate away from the Duplicator admin screen after downloading in order to successfully delete the package. It is import that you delete the package as Duplicator stores the package in a folder it creates called wp-snapshots. This folder lives in the root of your website. By default the packages that Duplicator creates have a pretty easy to figure out name/date pattern. This naming schema can be guessed by potential hackers and enable them to download your website package. Not a good thing! We highly recommend deleting the package from your live site after download.

Step 4 – Import the ZIP Package

The last step is to import the ZIP package using DesktopServer. Simply select the “Export or import a website” option and click next, followed by the “Import an existing WordPress website archive” option and click next. Click the first field to select the ZIP archive you downloaded from your live website. You may then type a domain name that you will use to access your imported localhost website. For security purposes, DesktopServer will change the top-level domain to .dev (dot DEV). Clicking the next button will start the import process and your new website URL will be presented to you when DesktopServer is finished importing your website.


With DesktopServer’s Duplicator compatible import feature, you can backup and import your live website, complete with plugins, themes, configurations and settings. DesktopServer can empower you to redesign an existing site, test out new designs and features, make radical changes in a safe copy, or simply work offline for faster development.

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About Stephen Carnam
I’m a San Diego, California based computer programmer and graphic designer that has been consulting, developing, and maintaining web & software applications for well over ten years. My languages and interests include PHP, Java, JavaScript, 3D rendering/sculpting, and snow boarding.


  1. Shunyata says:

    Thanks Steven, though I haven’t succeeded as of yet, due to memory I imagine, your tut was clear informative and easy to follow.

    By the way my Ma lives in San Diego.


  2. Shunyata says:

    Success! I upped the memory limit to 256 and finally made my package..

  3. Shunyata says:

    Opp’s spoke to quick. Maybe I’m just overlooking something but I haven’t been able to find the import export website option that you mention in the tutorial. In any regard I’m just going to down load the installer and take it from there.

  4. Stephen Carroll says:

    Hi Shunyata,
    The import export option is detailed in another post,

    Hope that helps!

  5. interactivemedia says:

    Going to try this out tonight and in the morning. I am sure there may be user errors as I just got my wisdom teeth removed and am medicated. I am excited to get this in action even with the pain. Thanks for tutorial.

  6. gmichael7 says:

    Ugh.. I was looking all over for the Import / Export feature, and didn’t see it anywhere even after Updating to the new version of Serverpress ! I finally realized that I upgraded to the free version, not the premium. Just thought I’d post this in case anyone else was fumbling around like I did. YOU MUST HAVE PREMIUM VERSION- AND UPGRADE UNDER PREMIUM.

    Well worth it for any Free version users out there… Thanks again Serverpress

  7. L3SEO says:

    Downloaded a copy of my wp site. Went to the address provided and am now staring at the IIS7 welcome screen. Have no idea what to do next?

    1. Stephen Carroll says:

      You may wish to see the troubleshooting section of “How to Install DesktopServer” from the download page. You cannot have another webserver running at the same time. For additional support, consider visiting our forum and post your operating system version (XP, Vista, Windows 7, etc.). This particular post maybe of interest to you:

      “Previous Install of IIS7 Causing MySQL Headache”


  8. modfwd says:

    Have tried Duplicator on a few websites without any luck and I am not paying for BackupBuddy. However I didn’t see how to do it manually in the help files (maybe I missed it) so after trawling the forums I found this:

    “”If you are familiar with FTP and phpMyAdmin (and your hosting provider has it), you can choose phpMyAdmin’s Export feature to dump the database to a file. Rename the file ‘database.sql’ and place it inside a folder parallel to wp-config.php, and along with all your website’s files. ZIP the folder and feed it to DesktopServer’s import feature. It should import your website.”"

    If only I knew this a week ago!!!!!!

    1. Stephen Carroll says:

      Hello Modfwd,
      I’m sorry to hear that Duplicator did not work out for you! The phpMyAdmin process is also outline here in the “How-To” section.


  9. Clifford says:

    I had a site nearly done on XAMPP. Installed Duplicator, exported to ZIP, opened DesktopServer for the first time, imported the ZIP, and everything just works at the .dev domain. How wonderful! Thank you!

  10. Clifford says:

    Does Duplicator backup (export/import) entire WordPress MultiSite installs?

  11. Clifford says:

    I installed Duplicator on MultiSite Network Admin and it doesn’t show up. It only shows up within each sub-site.

    BackWPup ( ) supports MultiSite (but only at the Network Admin level). Can I import BackWPup’s ZIP file to DesktopServer to get it up and running – or is there a reason you have mentioned BackupBuddy (does MultiSite) and Duplicator (apparently doesn’t) in specific – because the import doesn’t work with all backup solutions?

    Thank you.

    1. Stephen Carroll says:

      Hi Clifford,
      BackupBuddy does make migration their expertise, however support for multisite was beta last I checked. Because multisite (without the WPMU plugins) uses a single database to manage all sites with subdomains and subdirectories, you can simply try Duplicator on one of the subdomains, it might grab everything anyways. Note that you may need to rebuild your .htaccess file and will have create the subdomain aliases in DesktopServer (the second to last option) manually.

      Likewise, you could capture the entire database and files manually using phpMyAdmin (if your hosts provides access to that) or through a tool like Navicat. See for details. For additional, timely support, please include your OS platform (Vista, Lion, etc.) and post in our premium forum at:

  12. jeffhester says:

    Stephen, just used this technique to create a dev instance of an existing WordPress site (about 1/2 gb zipped) and it worked flawlessly! DesktopServer is brilliant! Thanks for making it so damn easy.

  13. jlk71 says:


    I habe just tried this plugin – BackWPup and itworked perfect on a multisite back up using wildcard subdomains.

    Perfect back up all round.

    Now then.

    When I try to import the zip file usinf desktop server it fails with the error:

    Error – Failed to locate the database SQL file.

    I have examined the zip archive and the database sql file is present so I am now at a loss as to why this import is failing.

    Any ideas Stephen?

    Kind regards

    1. jlk71 says:

      Hi again.

      Just figured this out.

      I renamed the sql file to database.sql and now it is working.

      Hope this helps others.


      1. nathansimpson says:

        Please explain “I have examined the zip archive and the database sql file is present so I am now at a loss as to why this import is failing.” I downloaded my back up and there was no database sql file – there was a nathan_esdewp.sql file ( would i simple change it or duplicate it and change it to database.sql ? Would love to be able to use bacupwp with my multisite subdirectory site…

    2. jlk71 says:

      Fixed this by changing the sql file to database.sql

      Sorry for wasting your time.


  14. metta 3 says:

    An amazing tool – duplicator copy of live site up and running as dev on local pc in under 10 minutes. Used Quick Deploy last week to move a site to live. Invaluable for making and testing changes safely and working at speed when the internet connection leaves a lot to be desired as Im location independent.

    One Tip – when you upgrade from Limited to Premium take care as the packages both have the exact name. Unzip the new premium package to a new location to avoid WinZip confusion. I wasted a fair while on that one! Its pretty bulletproof though, I managed to reinstall limited at least 3 times!

  15. JonBeech says:

    Hi Stephen

    I just tried to import another wordpress website with duplicator package and I get the following error…unable to locate wp-config.php or wp-config-sample.php file. The files are definately in the package I downloaded so I’m not sure what has happened here? i may try the manual method.

    As one of the previous commentors has said, I too would be relunctant to buy a license for Backup Buddy.



    1. Stephen Carroll says:

      Hi Jon,
      It sounds like you are looking for support. We’ve noted the wp-config.php error as being related to anti-virus for select users. Please take a moment to post in our forum and please be sure to include your operating system version and platform (i.e. “Windows 7″, or “Macintosh 10.8″, etc.). Thank you!

  16. Wordpress says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I’m wondering how long it takes to create package? I’ve been waiting for like 1 hour and yet it is still in process….

    My site is 2.99Gb though.


    1. Stephen Carroll says:

      There is a legacy .zip file limitation of 2Gigs on Windows. We’d suggest omitting uploads, video, or possible redundant archives if you have been using different backup programs. You can move these into place manually outside of the .zip. For additional support, please be sure to include your operating system version and platform and post in our forum at

      1. Wordpress says:

        Posted on the premium forum. Thanks!

  17. Dani says:

    Tried using the Cpanel backup first – no luck.

    Tried using the Duplicator plugin – FLAWLESS.

    Keep up the good work, you guys! And Thanks for the T-Shirt I got at WordCamp MKE. And good on you guys for showing up to the Appleton WordPress Meetup. Excellent!!

    Duplicator plugin –> follow the tutorial –> Flawless install of a live site.

  18. greenchillidesign says:

    Hi, I’ve gone through the tutorial, and it worked well for the most part but the all of the CSS has dropped out?

    Why would this happen?

    1. Stephen Carnam says:

      This can happen if you are using a caching plugin, an incorrect URL alias to the CSS or a if there was a problem during import (missing file, etc.). For additional support, please be sure to login as a premium member and use the link :-)

  19. kshoufer says:

    How do you get to the import screen to import the zipped package? I tried every option I can think of and no “import file” box shows up.

    1. Stephen Carnam says:

      Please click on the screenshot for a clearer view. For additional support, be sure to visit and tell us your OS/Platform and issue you are experiencing. :-)

  20. greenchillidesign says:

    I just wanted to give an update. I did again and it’s working perfectly :)

  21. jsandytn says:

    Hey Stephen, I’m using the 3.6.1 Premium version, and it is importing the Duplicator file brilliantly. HOWEVER, it is not changing the references to the previous site. Example: Old site name: New local site name: When I go to, it displays the home page perfectly. If I go to any other page, it show the page:{page-name}. If I attempt to go to, I’m thrown to I’m not able to change anything in the local site. What do I need to do to use the Duplicator file to import?

    1. Stephen Carnam says:

      You might be using a caching plugin, haven’t updated your htaccess, or are missing a scrubbing option for an alias. For timely support, use the contact-us or post in our forum.

      1. jsandytn says:

        Thanks, Stephen. I’ve sent this to support along with screen shots. I wanted to put my situation here in case someone else who might have, like me, read the tutorial in hopes of uncovering why this didn’t work might could discover the answer. I’ll check what you’ve suggested until I hear back from support.

      2. jsandytn says:

        Hi Stephen,
        Your suggestions were enough to ferret it out. It was not a caching plug-in, nor an .htaccess failure. It was along the lines of an alias. Here is what happened, for the reference needs of others:
        1. the site being imported was a subdomain – There was no www. used or created.
        2. When I repeated the import, this time checking the box for ;Customize scrubbing options’, I saw the replacements which Desktop Server was going to do for me. There was a replacement in both the database and files for ‘’. There was NOT a similar replacement for just ‘’. I added that. When I did, the replacement went great and I can fully access the site.


        1. praise for Server Desktop – for allowing the ability to add replacement options, and
        2. a suggestion for future product enhancements might includes an automatic replacement condition for sites with subdomain only situations like this. It’s probably rare, but painful when you encounter it.

        Until then, I wanted to share what I discovered.

  22. DougRees says:

    Thanks for the instruction, it is appreciated. I like the idea of being about to back-up my site then test on the most current version for things like new plug-ins.

    I have one problem, the photos on my site are not coming through. I had the same issue when pushing a site from Desktop Server to a host as well. I am certain it is me doing something incorrectly or my expectations are off. Can you give me a clue?

    1. GreggFranklin says:

      Thanks for writing us. We would like to review the archive. This archive was created by Duplicator correct?

      1. DougRees says:

        Hello – it was created by Duplicator. I will upload the file now. Thanks.

  23. dinophotog says:

    I did the DUPLICATOR import and it worked!!! Does Desktop Server plan to have a tool to do this anytime?

    1. Stephen Carnam says:

      Hello dinophotog,
      Can you clarify your question? DesktopServer Premium currently supports backup file formats from Duplicator, BackupBuddy, BackWP Up, Backup WordPress, and InifiniteWP. If there are additional file formats you would like supported; please feel free to let us know what they are :-)


  24. Faith Dance says:

    Unfortunately, Duplicator is not working for me. It seems your screenshots are from an older version. On the current version 0.5.6 there is no options tab and therefore I cannot increase the memory limit. So, what do I do now? :-(

    1. Stephen Carnam says:

      Hello Faith,
      Thank you for writing us. I’m sorry to hear this. It sounds like you need support to increase memory because Duplicator is not working. You may wish to contact the authors of Duplicator or use an alternate backup plugin that DesktopServer also supports; such as Backup WordPress, BackWP Up, or iTheme’s “BackupBuddy” (premium recommended plugin). Alternatively, you may gather the files and database from your server following one of our alternate guides (such as importing from cPanel):

      1. Faith Dance says:

        I just bought the premium version of ServerPress in order to import. Now I find it very disappointing that I need something else to make it work, possibly involving more costs. BackWPup and BackupWordpress are blocked on the server (hosted WP by GoDaddy) due to “performance, security, compatibility concerns”. I do have UpdraftPlus which creates 5 different files. Would that work? I can’t use any of the other import options since I don’t have a cPanel. and I don’t want to pay for a premium plugin like BackupBuddy.

        1. Faith Dance says:

          Thank you for your understanding and willingness to help.

          I am not convinced that memory is in fact the problem. Duplicator runs fine until a certain moment. Then the log says:
          “WARNING: Unable to zip directory: ‘/home/content/p3nexnas05_data03/92/2128192/html’
          Items archived [1888] flushing response.
          Does that look like a memory problem?

          Even though, I never got that far, the next problem might be that I do not have access to a home directory, where the zip file would be stored. Despite the error, the log file says, that it did create a zip file (/home/content/p3nexnas05_data03/92/2128192/html/wp-snapshots/tmp/ but this is obviously not on my computer and therefore not accessible to me.

          If you think, that a workaround is possible, by all means – please contact GoDaddy on my behalf. Maybe they can allow me to install one of the other plugins.

        2. Faith Dance says:

          Concerning the two blocked plugins, GoDaddy support replied:
          “We have determined that there a handful of plugin’s that pose a vulnerability to our infrastructure. There are a lot of plugin’s that can be used to back up word press please look for those plugin’s with higher security.”

  25. Stephen Carnam says:

    Hello Faith,
    I”m sorry to hear that you are disappointed. While were are not your hosting provider or author of Duplicator we can certainly understand your frustration.

    We’d love to add support for Updrafts Plus, but at this time the file format is incomplete and does not meet the minimum requirements to replicate your site successfully in DesktopServer. Please note that DesktopServer does function like a real hosting provider (albeit more featured than some real hosts) and you may be able to restore your site via Updraft Plus’ instructions for site restoration as their actual code may have the necessary components to make a complete site.

    However we certainly understand your desire to have your hosting provider function normally with something as simple as assembling a basic backup file from Duplicator, Backup WordPress, or BackWP Up. We will be happy to contact GoDaddy on your behalf to see if they can increase memory or provide a reasonable workaround for your site’s important data.

  26. Hi Faith,

    I have been in touch with our GoDaddy contact and they are going to research your issue further and get back with us to see if we can collectively come up with a workaround. It may be some time tomorrow, but I hope that we can make progress.

    In the mean time, can you log into our website, and in the contact page, send us your account user name or number that is associated with your GoDaddy account in case we need it for further research?



    1. Faith Dance says:

      Thanks! Appreciate your efforts!

  27. ifyouwillit says:

    Hey Faith,

    I’m Mendel from GoDaddy. I’ve been in contact with Marc on this issue. I’d like to figure out what’s going on in-case there’s an issue with Duplicator on our systems (possibly impacting others as well). Marc will be sending my contact information to you shortly in a private message.

  28. ginny says:

    Hi, I just created a zip of my live website with Duplicator. Then I imported it in DesktopServer. However, when I click on the new site link that DesktopServer gives me, my browser simply downloads the resulting file (which looks like a php file). This occurs when I click on the provided link in DesktopServer and also when I attempt to login on the wp-admin page. Any ideas what would cause this? I can’t get the page to display in a browser – the browser just downloads it.

    1. ginny says:

      I solved the problem by deleting the .htaccess file (though I don’t know why that worked) and restarted the services. That enabled me to access the home page but the links from the home page were broken. After I deleted the .htaccess file I could also access the wp-admin page. So from the admin site I reset the permalinks and this fixed the link problem. So things are fine for now. Using Duplicator sure was convenient!

      1. GreggFranklin says:

        Hi Ginny,

        You took the correct action. The .htaccess file can cause issues because it is specific to the server it is on. After moving from a hosted server to your local the .htaccess file may not work. Deleting it and then logging into WordPress’s Dashboard and going to Settings >Permalinks and re-saving will recreate the .htaccess file correctly for the local site.

      2. Stephen Carnam says:

        Helo Ginny,
        I’m glad you were able to resolve this. After import you should have seen a message that tells you to do exactly that. This is because the .htaccess file may contain paths within it that are specific to your hosting providers computer. Since most hosts do not run Windows or Macintosh computers, re-saving your permalinks adjusts the .htaccess for your particular hardware. You may need to re-save permalinks when moving back to a host’s specific hardware.

    2. Stephen Carnam says:

      Hello Ginny,
      The last screen on the import page indicates that you may need to remove and regenerate your .htaccess file. It sounds like you might have skipped this step. For more information, please click on “Import or export succeeds but pages do not display.” at:

      For additional support, be sure to login as a Premium member and visit This will alert us and give you priority support. In addition, please be sure to fill out the form so that we know what Operating System and version you are using (i.e. Windows XP, or Macintosh 10.4 “Tiger”, etc.).