I have taken on a job at a language school in Spain that has asked me to revamp their website for them.

From what I know, the previous designer has done a runner with the details of everything but the wordpress login itself - server info gone,plus domain rules, so all I can access is the dashboard and other sections on this page. The boss has asked that I "play around with the design a bit", change to template etc to better fit the needs of the company.

I know how to change things, but I'm afraid of doing that as it will change all of the live site dramatically, and I need to make a dummy run before publishing.

Tomorrow I'm going to sit her down and tell her that I need to know what style she wants, but this is a pre-emptive strike against the boss. I have until the weekend to learn how to dramatically change and fix problems in wordpress?

Where can I start? Any suggestions?

  • Within the dashboard, do you have sufficient permissions to upload plugins/themes? If not, you are well and truly stuck as to what you can do! – TheDeadMedic Jul 16 '14 at 16:00
  • As far as i know i have permissions from within the dashboard for all themes and plugins - What I need to know is how to test out a preview of the entire site, using (subsequently updating, but worry about that later) all the old info without affecting the already live site – user56663 Jul 16 '14 at 16:13
  • 3
    It's going to prove difficult without FTP, but not impossible. I would suggest you install a backup plugin to export the database/theme, then set up a local/staging version elsewhere. – TheDeadMedic Jul 16 '14 at 16:25
  • Your #1 priority should be recovering the necessary credentials to the server so that you can work properly, I would make it very clear to my boss that I am not confident in my ability to maintain or update the site until I have those. – Andrew Bartel Jul 16 '14 at 16:28
  • Thanks fellas, will do. Could you guys let me know exactly what it is I need from her in order that when inevitably she emails someone professional to help her she is asking for the right things? I'm in the process of downloading a bunch of programmes to help manage wordpress sights, but I really need to get this sorted with as little interference from her at this stage, so if i'm asking for the right things at least I have everything I need once I've read up sufficiently on how to use software etc. Any suggestions on complete beginners guides, by the way? Thanks for helping, much appreciated. – user56663 Jul 16 '14 at 16:44

The web hosting provider should have a process available for gaining access to a control panel, FTP, etc. They will likely need your employer to prove ownership of the account somehow.

From this access, you will have all that you need to duplicate the site and install a development version before beginning your edits.


I've faced this issue many times in my Wordpress development.

Simply follow these steps:

  1. Download the codes and files using FTP FileZilla or WinSCP (only on Winndows) or if you're having shell access then try to first compress the whole bunch of files it a tar.gz or zip and then download the single compressed file.
  2. Download the DB carefully, remember to check the DB name very carefully. You'll get those details from wp-config.php
  3. Now, on your local server assuming you're working on Windows Platform with XAMPP as server, just extract the downloaded codes/files to C:\xampp\htdocs\<your-site> and create a DB in your MySQL using your local PHPMyAdmin which you can access from http://<your-localhost>/phpmyadmin and import the downloaded database into the newly created DB.
  4. After importing, simply access the DB and go to wp_options table and make few changes there change option_name called siteurl to your localhost url and just on the next page there is an option_name called home change that also to your localhost url
  5. If you're done till the above steps, you can proceed with the final steps which includes some alteration. First one goes to wp-config.php there now you have to mention your HOSTNAME, DB_NAME, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD once all the credentials are provided and saved from your end.
  6. Viola!

Let me know if you still need any help on this.


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