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InstaWP Review: Create WordPress Testing Sites in One Click

For developers, it’s important to have a development environment to deploy coding changes without breaking a live site. InstaWP claims to create new WordPress installs in seconds, but you might not know if this is an effective tool. Fortunately, our InstaWP review will cover everything you need to know!

Using InstaWP, you can build sandbox environments for WordPress development. You can use these fully functioning environments to develop sites, test plugins, and lots more.

It enables you to set custom site configurations to suit your needs. With built-in code editors and other development tools, InstaWP makes it easy to create new sandboxes for testing software.

In this post, we’ll give you a comprehensive InstaWP review. We’ll explain its key features, ease of use, and pricing so you can decide if it’s right for you. Let’s get started!

InstaWP review: A quick introduction to the tool

InstaWP is a tool designed to set up WordPress environments with fully functioning sites. Without needing web hosting, InstaWP lets you quickly create new sites that you can use to develop a site, test changes, and more:

InstaWP review: the main website

To build a new WordPress site with InstaWP, all you’ll have to do is select a version of WordPress and PHP. You can also set configurations, which are pre-configured PHP and WordPress values:

InstaWP review: the setup

The main purpose of InstaWP is to easily launch sandbox sites for development or other testing. Here’s what you can do with this software:

  • Install new plugins, themes, or updates
  • Work on a client’s website
  • Enable potential customers to try out your custom theme or plugin

Ultimately, InstaWP can provide a safe environment to develop new plugins, themes, or other WordPress software. Since it easily integrates with GitHub, InstaWP can be an effective tool for developers.

Five key features of InstaWP

Now that you know the basics of InstaWP, let’s dive a little deeper into its key features. By the end of our InstaWP review, you’ll know whether this is a valuable tool for WordPress development and design.

1. Create WordPress testing sites in a few clicks

As a developer, you’ll want to create new testing environments very quickly.

With InstaWP, you can spin up a new fully functioning WordPress install in under 30 seconds. You also get a good deal of flexibility, including templates and presets to help you save time (more on that in a second).

Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose WordPress version – InstaWP will provide old, stable, and beta/RC release options. Alternatively, you can select the nightly release.
  2. Select your preferred PHP version – by default, InstaWP will recommend a specific option, but you can choose from 5.6 to 8.2.
  3. Customize the configuration of your site – you can start from a blank slate or use a preset configuration with preset themes, plugins, and other WordPress data. Later, we’ll explain how to set your own custom configuration.
  4. Choose a custom site name (optional) – you have the option to enter a custom site name. Alternatively, InstaWP will generate a random name for you.
  5. Choose site type – with a paid plan, you can choose between creating a temporary site that expires in seven days or a reserved site that never expires.
Create a new WordPress site with InstaWP

Once you click the Create Site button, InstaWP will spin up your site in around 15 seconds or so.

You’ll then see your WordPress credentials, along with a quick-access link that automatically logs you into the dashboard. The quick-access link is only available on paid plans.

WordPress site login details

From there, your site works like pretty much any other WordPress install, and it’s available 24/7 from anywhere that you have internet access.

Along with your dashboard credentials, InstaWP will provide a database and code editor. You can also view your site’s logs if you experience any bugs.

2. Templates

In InstaWP, you can customize your testing environment as much as you’d like. Once you’re happy with how the site functions, feel free to save it as a template.

This will create a copy of the current files and database to use on another website. When you spin up a new InstaWP site, you can choose this template as your starting point.

From your InstaWP dashboard, select the Sites tab. Next to your site’s information, click on the Save Template button:

InstaWP review: Creating staging site template

Then, add a name and description for the new template. If you’re the only one who will be using the template, set the visibility to Private. Or, you can create shared templates for your development team:

Template settings

After you save the template, InstaWP will save it in the Templates tab. When you need to launch a new site from this template, select the + icon:

Create InstaWP template site

If you created a shared template, you can customize it as a landing page. This will appear to users who want to try out your company’s theme, plugin, or other software:

InstaWP public template

In InstaWP, you’ll be able to add your business branding to the landing page. After users sign up with their email addresses, they can launch a sandbox site using your custom template configuration.

3. Customizable preset stacks

In our InstaWP review, we found that every site uses specific configurations by default. By accessing the Configurations page, you’ll see the WordPress settings for the average sandbox site:

InstaWP review: Default configuration

However, you can alter these settings to create WordPress preset stacks. By building your own default configurations, you’ll establish consistency across your development team.

First, select Add New. After naming your new configuration, feel free to start using a different PHP or WordPress version:

Custom InstaWP configuration

Then, click on the PHP tab to update its configuration parameters. You’ll be able to set a custom max execution time, memory limit, and more:

Custom PHP configuration

Under WordPress, you’ll find WordPress-specific settings. Here, you could install multisite, change the default language, or enable debugging:

Custom WordPress configuration

Additionally, consider adding some pre-installed plugins and themes to your sandbox sites. When you add this information, your necessary tools will be automatically installed on every InstaWP site:

Pre-install plugins and themes

InstaWP also enables you to add random data to your new development sites. Using Faker, provide the number of posts and pages you want on your site. Additionally, you can set up tags, categories, authors, and more:

InstaWP faker

This feature can help you save time during development. Instead of creating this content yourself, you can allow InstaWP to do it for you.

Once you save the new configuration, set up a new website. In the settings, choose the configuration you just created:

InstaWP review: Select custom configuration

Then, InstaWP will create a development environment according to your specifications. Rather than relying on a default configuration, you’ll automatically have a pre-set stack of plugins, themes, and PHP coding!

4. Built-in developer tools

With an InstaWP site, you’ll receive a full set of developer tools. These can optimize your workflow, allowing you to work faster and take on new clients.

First, you can access your site’s SFTP and SSH credentials from the dashboard. In the Actions drop-down menu, select the SFTP/SSH option:

InstaWP review: SFTP/SSH access

To use SSH, you can paste a key from the ~/.ssh/ file on your computer. Then, enable the SSH or SFTP setting to view your username and IP address. However, keep in mind that both SSH and SFTP access require a premium subscription:

Enable SFTP and SSH

InstaWP also includes a built-in code editor. To access it, find Tools > Code Editor:

InstaWP review: Open code editor

On the new page, you can use multi-tab editing to update your WordPress environment. Then, you’ll be able to view these edits on your live site:

InstaWP review: code editor

InstaWP adds Adminer SQL management script in a database editor. This provides a user-friendly way to grant privileges, export the database, and more:

InstaWP database

If any of your coding causes errors, you’ll need to access your site logs. In your dashboard, you can quickly view logs and search for specific errors to troubleshoot the issue:

InstaWP review: the logs

When your site is ready to go live, it’s time to migrate it to a hosting provider. Fortunately, InstaWP sites easily transfer to over 13 different web hosts:

Hosting migration options

With these tools, you’ll have everything you need to customize your development environment. Then, you can push your changes to a live audience when you’re ready.

5. Git integration

Additionally, our InstaWP review found that you can easily link your repository from GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket to your development environment. To do this, go to Deployments and hit Add New. Then, define whether your Git repository is public or private:

Add git deployment

Next, paste the URL for your repository. You’ll also need to specify the branch to pull from. The destination folder is the location where you want to download your repository content.

In the Post-Deployment Commands section, consider adding some shell commands to run after cloning the repository. Here are just a few of the commands you could use:

composer install
npm install
npm run dev
wp config set WP_DEBUG true --rawCode language: JavaScript (javascript)

Once you create a deployment, you can connect it to a template. When you add a new site from this template, the repository will be pulled and automatically merged with the site.

InstaWP ease of use

One of InstaWP’s main selling points is its ease of use. It claims that its software builds new WordPress sandbox environments in mere seconds. However, how does it really perform?

In our InstaWP review, we’ve found that the interface is user-friendly and lightning-fast. When creating a new site, you’ll simply have to specify a few basic configuration settings. Then, InstaWP truly only requires a few seconds to create the site.

Additionally, InstaWP has a full set of accessible developer tools. In just a few clicks, you can open the built-in code or database editors. Without needing third-party software, you’ll also be able to set custom configurations, add templates, and even migrate your sandbox sites.

InstaWP pricing

Whether you’re a freelance designer or part of a development team, you’ll need to know how much InstaWP costs. If you’re looking for a completely free way to launch a new development site, this tool could be right for you.

The free plan gives you access to three websites, 500 MB of disk space, and one template:

InstaWP review: the pricing

However, it’s important to note that your development sites will be deleted after 48 hours. This can be effective for quick tests, but you may need to conduct more extensive website development.

In this case, you can purchase a premium subscription. Starting at just $14 per month, InstaWP will enable you to reserve websites that never expire. Plus, you can create many more websites and templates.

Final thoughts on our InstaWP review

As a developer, you’ll need to use sandboxes to work on clients’ websites and try out new changes in a safe environment. Without the right tools, this can be tedious, especially if you have many clients. Therefore, you’ll need a way to quickly build sandboxes or development sites.

Fortunately, InstaWP can get a new testing environment up and running in seconds. You’ll be able to create custom starter configurations to pre-install plugins, themes, and PHP code. Plus, InstaWP integrates with Git for easy deployments.

Do you have any questions about our InstaWP review? Ask us in the comments section below!

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John Hughes

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