By default, WordPress is set up to run in one environment—it has one configuration file, wp-config.php, that holds one set of database credentials along with authentication keys/salts and debugging options. With just a few tweaks, you can get WordPress set up to handle multiple environments with different databases and options for each environment.

I develop heavily in CodeIgniter so the following is an adapted version of what I’ve done for my CI applications.

Let’s say the following environments exist for your website:

  • Local: http://website.local
  • Development:
  • Staging:
  • Production:

It’s important to separate databases and authentication keys and salts for each environment, as well as have debugging turned on for local, development, and even staging but off for production.

Edit your wp-config.php file so it looks like the following:


// Set your environment/url pairs
$environments = array(
  'local'       => 'website.local',
  'development' => '',
  'staging'     => '',
  'production'  => ''

// Get the hostname
$http_host = $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'];

// Loop through $environments to see if there’s a match
foreach($environments as $environment => $hostname) {
  if (stripos($http_host, $hostname) !== FALSE) {
    define('ENVIRONMENT', $environment);

// Exit if ENVIRONMENT is undefined
if (!defined('ENVIRONMENT')) exit('No database configured for this host');

// Location of environment-specific configuration
$wp_db_config = 'wp-config/wp-db-' . ENVIRONMENT . '.php'; 

// Check to see if the configuration file for the environment exists
if (file_exists(__DIR__ . '/' . $wp_db_config)) {
} else {
  // Exit if configuration file does not exist
  exit('No database configuration found for this host');

/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */

/** Absolute path to the WordPress directory. */
if ( !defined('ABSPATH') )
  define('ABSPATH', dirname(__FILE__) . '/');

/** Sets up WordPress vars and included files. */
require_once(ABSPATH . 'wp-settings.php');

Edit $environments accordingly so they match your environments and their corresponding hostnames.

Then create a wp-config directory in the root of your project and create the following files inside:
├── wp-config
│   ├── wp-db-local.php
│   ├── wp-db-development.php
│   ├── wp-db-staging.php
└── └── wp-db-production.php

Edit and add the following lines to each of your wp-db-*.php files:

// Prevent file from being accessed directly
if (!defined('ABSPATH')) exit();

define('DB_NAME',     'database_name_here');
define('DB_USER',     'username_here');
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'password_here');
define('DB_HOST',     'localhost');
define('DB_CHARSET',  'utf8');
define('DB_COLLATE',  '');

define('AUTH_KEY',         'put your unique phrase here');
define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  'put your unique phrase here');
define('LOGGED_IN_KEY',    'put your unique phrase here');
define('NONCE_KEY',        'put your unique phrase here');
define('AUTH_SALT',        'put your unique phrase here');
define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 'put your unique phrase here');
define('LOGGED_IN_SALT',   'put your unique phrase here');
define('NONCE_SALT',       'put your unique phrase here');

$table_prefix = 'wp_';

define('WPLANG',   '');
define('WP_DEBUG', true);

For wp-db-production.php turn debugging off by defining WP_DEBUG to false

define('WP_DEBUG', false);

Voila—Now all you need to do is drop in the correct credentials for each of your environments and you’re done!