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I'm trying to move a big site that's currently live onto my local machine so I can edit locally. I'm using Wamp Server. I've tried using the Duplicator plugin but I'm getting several warnings and errors when I try to unpackage it locally. Is there a more foolproof way to do this?

Otherwise, would it be easier to move the live site onto a sub-domain on my personal site? Something like 'site.com/clients/test-site'? I just need an environment where I can make changes without affecting the live site.

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Why didn't you try to copy your live website manually. It's not as easy as using a plugin but much more error proof. You will need to follow these steps.

  1. Make a dump of MYSQL database on server.

    mysqldump -u username -p -h localhost dbname > domain.sql
    
  2. Create a archive of your WordPress website on server.

    tar -czf domain.tar.gz domain.com
    
  3. Download both on local machine. And extract the archive.

    tar -xzf domain.tar.gz
    
  4. Import database at local machine.

    mysql -u username -p -h localhost dbname < domain.sql
    
  5. Now change wp-config.php values for local server.

  6. Change domain name in MySQL. You can run these mysql queries to replace it with local domain setup.

    UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = replace(option_value, 'http://www.oldurl.com', 'http://www.newurl.com') WHERE option_name = 'home' OR option_name = 'siteurl';
    UPDATE wp_posts SET guid = replace(guid, 'http://www.oldurl.com','http://www.newurl.com');
    UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content, 'http://www.oldurl.com', 'http://www.newurl.com');
    UPDATE wp_postmeta SET meta_value = replace(meta_value,'http://www.oldurl.com','http://www.newurl.com');
    

Or simply define these in wp-config.php, these will overwrite domain URLs in database. I think this will be better for local development.

define( 'WP_HOME', 'http://example.com/blog' );
define( 'WP_SITEURL', 'http://example.com/blog' );
  1. Done.

I develop and move nearly 7-10 WordPress websites each month and this is what I do. I can't say it's better than using a plugin or any other migration tool but it's more controlled. And once you get familiar with the process, there are very less chances of error.

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    After a couple years of working with Wordpress, this became basically my default process as well, good stuff @Roberthue. I still used interconnectit's search and replace script for the db but that was only because it's so reliable and handled length for serialized entries too. OP, this might all sound a bit complicated, but learning the process inside and out will make you a much better developer for your clients that need WordPress work. – Andrew Bartel Oct 30 '14 at 4:16
  • @AndrewBartel thank you for mentioning. I also use interconnectit's search and replace script but I didn't mention it here because I did not want to scare him with another 3rd party script. And also I think nterconnectit's script has much better use for websites that you want to move. For local development purpose, defining WP_HOME and WP_SITEURL in wp-config.php will work fine. – Robert hue Oct 30 '14 at 4:55
  • This guy has it. If you're not into SSH it's doable using PHPMyAdmin to export your database. – Joshua Oct 30 '14 at 5:26
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    @Joshua yes, this whole process require SSH access. And I assumed he has it because almost all hosts offer SSH access these days. :) – Robert hue Oct 30 '14 at 5:34
  • It's too much command line for me :P – Joshua Oct 30 '14 at 5:38

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