Installing Sail

Using Homebrew (Linux, MacOS, WSL on Windows)

The easiest and preferred way to install Sail and keep it up to date, is through the Homebrew package manager. It works on MacOS, Linux, and Windows (via WSL):

brew install sail

If you're new to Howebrew, installing it is quite a breeze as well.

From PyPI

If you already use Python and pip, you can obtain the latest version of Sail from PyPI:

pip3 install

From Source

You will need Python 3.6+ with pip and setuptools available. Download the source files from GitHub, install dependencies and run the Sail installation:

pip3 install -r requirements.txt
python3 install

Consider installing Sail in a virtual environment, to make sure dependencies aren't broken for other Python software on the system:

python3 -m venv .env
.env/bin/pip install -r requirements.txt
.env/bin/python install
ln -s .env/bin/sail /usr/local/bin/sail

Getting a DigitalOcean API Token

Sail uses the DigitalOcean API to interact with cloud services, for which you'll need a DigitalOcean account, as well as a read-write API token.


If you don't already have an account, you can sign up for DigitalOcean using our affiliate link which grants you $100 in free credits, and a small commission to our project account. If you would rather not sign up using an affiliate link, just browse to

API Token

To create a DigitalOcean API token, sign in to your account, browse to API > Tokens/Keys, and hit the Generate New Token button. Give it a descriptive name, for example "sail", and make sure both Read and Write scopes are selected.

After generating the token, it'll show up in the list of personal acckss tokens, you'll see the token itself directly below the token name. Copy that token and store it in a safe place.

Creating a New Sail Project

Create an empty directory for your new project, and from there run:

sail init --provider-token=<YOUR_TOKEN> --email=<ADMIN_EMAIL>

This will initialize your project, provision services, and download your first working copy of your new WordPress application. Once successful, you'll see the URL and the wp-admin credentials.

If you're planning to use Sail for multiple projects, you should consider saving your provider token and admin e-mail address to sail config as defaults:

sail config provider-token <YOUR_TOKEN>
sail config email <ADMIN_EMAIL>

This way you can simply:

sail init

If you'd like to migrate an existing WordPress application into a Sail-powered project, you'll still need to provision a new project first. For more information take a look at Migrating existing projects to Sail.

Selecting a Droplet Size and Region

By default Sail will deploy a small s-1vcpu-1gb-intel droplet in the ams3 (Amsterdam 3) region. You can change these with the --size and --region arguments respectively:

sail init --size=s-2vcpu-4gb-amd --region=sfo2

You can grab a list of valid sizes and regions with sail sizes and sail regions respectively.

Domains and DNS

Sail provisions your new site with a subdomain. This is used internally by Sail and Sail Services. You can add your own custom domains to your application with Sail:

sail domain add

This will create a DNS record on your DigitalOcean account, pointing to your application droplet. You can add multiple domains and subdomains by providing a space-separated list.

When the records are added, you'll need to change the name server records for your domain, at your domain registrar, to point to DigitalOcean:


Here's a tutorial on how to do that for common domain registrars.

Note: When moving DNS from another provider to DigitalOcean, don't forget to copy all existing records from that provider, including MX, TXT and CNAME records.

If you fail to do this, you may break some third-party services, such as e-mail, transactional mail, Google search console verification, and others.

While not officially supported, you can add a subdomain to your Sail application while leaving your DNS hosted elsewhere. To do this, add a CNAME record for your subdomain at your DNS provider, and point it to your subdomain.


After the name server records are updated and your domain is pointing to your WordPress application, you can ask Sail to request and install a free SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt:

sail domain make-https

Issued certificates will be installed and renewed automatically on your droplet.

Primary Domains

After the domains have been added and SSL'd, you can change the primary domain of your WordPress application with Sail:

sail domain make-primary

Deploying Changes

Any change that you make to your local working copy of a Sail project, can be deployed to production with sail deploy:

sail deploy

By default this will omit the wp-content/uploads directory, but could be included with the --with-uploads flag. This is particularly useful when importing existing applications to Sail.

You can run deploy with the --dry-run flag to get a list of file changes, which will be written to the production server during the deploy.

Rolling Back

In most failed deployment situations, it often makes sense to correct the mistake in your working copy and deploy again. However, sometimes you working copy might be dirty or in an unknown state, in which case the easiest and fastest way to resolve the problem would be a rollback.

A rollback simply changes the web root symlink on the production server to point to a release deployed earlier. This means that your working copy does not need to be transferred to production at all.

sail rollback <release>

To get a list of available releases, use:

sail rollback --releases

Sail keeps the last five releases on your production server, and deletes the older ones every time you deploy. These can be found in the /var/www/releases directory on your droplet.

Note that after a successful rollback, the production data will most likely be different from your working copy, so it might be a good idea to save the state of your working copy to your source repository, then download the live application files from production, as explained in the next section.

Downloading Changes from Production

In some cases your production code could be altered, for example when you update WordPress core, a theme or plugin. You can pull these changes down do your local copy with sail download:

sail download

Similar to deploying, if you would like to pull down all of wp-content/uploads as well, just add the --with-uploads flag.

By default, downloading with Sail will not delete files from your working copy, which do not exist on your production server. If a plugin or theme is deleted in production, you'll have to use the --delete flag to pull those changes back to your working copy.

Similar to deploy, the --dry-run flag will display a list of file changes that will occur during a download.

Creating a Backup

You can backup your WordPress application with Sail:

sail backup

This will download all your application files, your uploads, as well as a full dump of your MySQL database tables, compress and archive them to your local .backups directory.

Don't forget to backup your backups.

Restoring a Backup

Backup files created by Sail can easily be restored back to production:

sail restore .backups/backup-filename.tar.gz

Note that this is not an atomic operation (like deploy) as it restores files directly to the public folder on production. Uploads and the database are also restored from the backup archive, these can be skipped with --skip-uploads and --skip-db respectively.

A restored backup will not appear as a new release, so it can't easily be rolled back. It also does not affect the local working copy, which can become dirty as a result of this operation. It is recommended to use sail download after each restore.

Exporting and Importing the Database

Download a full database dump from production:

sail db export

This will write a compressed .sql.gz file to your .backups directory. Such files can be imported back to production:

sail db import .backups/filename.sql.gz

Regular .sql files can be imported too.

Accessing the Server and Application

You have full root access to every server you provision with Sail. There is no password for security reasons, but your root SSH key is saved to .sail/ssh.key after provisioning your application.

You can use this key directly with SSH or GUI SFTP software. Sail provides a handful of useful commands too:

Open an interactive SSH shell to your application:

sail ssh

This will open a session as the www-data user, inside the application container on the /var/www/public directory. If you'd rather open a root session on your host droplet, just add --root or --host to the command.

The host server will contain the original /var/www directory, with all your application releases, as well as your SSH service configuration in /etc/ssh. So it's not all that useful, though you can use it to reboot your server for example.

The remaining services run inside a container named sail, which you can access from the host droplet with Docker:

docker exec -it sail bash

There you will have access to /etc/nginx, /etc/php, /etc/mysql and everything else. Remember: with great power comes great responsibility.

Here are a few other useful things you can do with Sail.

Run a WP-CLI command or spawn a WP-CLI interactive shell:

sail wp option get home
sail wp shell

Spawn an interactive MySQL shell:

sail db cli

Open your browser to your application's wp-login.php location:

sail admin

Accessing Logs

You can query your Nginx, PHP and system logs directly from Sail:

sail logs
sail logs --nginx
sail logs --php

Add --follow or -f to tail-follow the logs, really useful while debugging.

Integrating with Git

It is always a great idea to use Git or other modern source code management systems when working with WordPress applications. Sail does not depend on any particular flavor, nor does it require the use of one at all.

However, if you do choose to work with one, make sure you ignore the .sail and .backups directories from source control. It's a good idea to ignore all dot-files anyway. You will probably not want your wp-content/uploads directory in source control either.

Here's an example .gitignore file:


Note, that during a deploy, everything in your working copy, except dot files and uploads, will be shipped to your production server's public directory, even files that are not under source control.

TODO: Deploy on push with GitHub Actions

Migrating existing projects to Sail

Provisioning new sites with Sail is great, but often times you'll want to migrate an existing WordPress application to DigitalOcean with Sail. Here's a useful checklist to help you out.

  1. Provision a new application with Sail
  2. Download a full backup from your current provider
  3. Copy the application files and wp-content/uploads, but not your wp-config.php to your new Sail working copy
  4. Merge the wp-config.php file by hand, database credentials should remain the ones provided by Sail, everything else is up to you
  5. Import the database .sql file from your local computer with sail db import path/to/database.sql
  6. Use sail deploy --with-uploads to push your application files and uploads to production
  7. Add your domains and select a primary one with sail domain add and sail domain make-primary

If everything is looking good, you should point your domain to Sail as described in the Domains and DNS section. After DNS propagation is complete you should be able to request and install new SSL certificates for your application.


Community support is available in our Slack workspace. If you do not use Slack, feel free to open an issue here on GitHub.

License and Contributing

The Sail CLI client is free and open source, distributed under the GNU General Public License version 3. Feel free to contribute by opening an issue or pull request on our GitHub project.

The Sail API server is proprietary and runs on the domain. It is used by most core Sail CLI commands and features, including but not limited to provisioning, deploying, domain management and more.

This software is provided as is, without warranty of any kind. Sail authors and contributors are not responsible for any loss of content, profits, revenue, cost savings, data, or content, or any other direct or indirect damages that may result from using the software or services provided by DigitalOcean terms of service can be found here. DigitalOcean is a trademark of DigitalOcean, LLC.

GitHub - kovshenin/sail: Deploy WordPress to DigitalOcean with Sail
Deploy WordPress to DigitalOcean with Sail. Contribute to kovshenin/sail development by creating an account on GitHub.