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:
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:
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:
- Choose WordPress version – InstaWP will provide old, stable, and beta/RC release options. Alternatively, you can select the nightly release.
- Select your preferred PHP version – by default, InstaWP will recommend a specific option, but you can choose from 5.6 to 8.2.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Under WordPress, you’ll find WordPress-specific settings. Here, you could install multisite, change the default language, or enable debugging:
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:
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:
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:
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:
To use SSH, you can paste a key from the ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub 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:
InstaWP also includes a built-in code editor. To access it, find Tools > 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 adds Adminer SQL management script in a database editor. This provides a user-friendly way to grant privileges, export the database, and more:
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:
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:
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:
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:
npm run dev
wp config set WP_DEBUG true --raw
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.
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:
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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