Magento Open Source, 1.9.x
Using a Staging Environment

If you plan to develop your store over a period of time, we recommend that you set up a staging environment where you can test changes before applying them to the live store.

A staging environment is just like any other Magento installation, but is not accessible to the public. You can use a version control tool to keep files synchronized between the staging environment and the live store. We highly recommend that you use a staging environment to test extensions and before updating your live store to a new version of Magento Open Source.