What is the difference between "Clone Prod DB & Apply Changes" and "Clone Prod DB & Test Merge"?
"Clone Prod DB & Apply Changes" - pulls the latest Production DB to the local development site. The changes we've been making locally are then applied to the imported Production database but are still kept completely separate. This means we can continue to pull new versions of the Production database without overwriting our development work - our development database changes are kept separate until we are ready to merge.
"Clone Prod DB & Test Merge" pulls the latest Prod DB and permanently merges the locally made changes. At this point the Dev site will be exactly how the Production site will be once the local changes are applied. We simply need to carefully test the merged development site and if everything is working as expected we can then push up the entire DB and any new/modified changes to Production.
What happens if we "Apply changes to Prod" without first doing the "Clone Prod DB & Test Merge"?
All of our local development changes will be applied to directly to the production DB and merged on Production. While we can do this at any time it is highly, highly recommended that we first do a "Clone Prod DB & Test Merge" first so that we can test all of the merged DB changes on our local development site and only "Apply changes to Prod" when we have finished testing.
IMPORTANT: Doing a "Apply changes to Prod" requires us to also export and upload any new and modified files that have been added to the Development site to the Production site.