Export & Import

Using Duplicator to Import a Live Website

DesktopServer for premium members includes a new import feature that is compatible with the Duplicator plugin. You can find Duplicator in the WordPress.org 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.

Install Duplicator
InstallDuplicatorTo 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.

duplicatorCreate 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.

downloadIf 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’.

duplicatorOptionsThe 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.

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.

Import the ZIP Package
import1 (1)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.

As the Founder of ServerPress, LLC and the Coding Genius behind DesktopServer, Stephen J. Carnam continues to invent new ways to improve developer Workflow through technology. As a huge Advocate of Open Source Software, he promotes Creativity, Community and Collaboration.

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