When making and developing a WordPress website, any website developer worth their salt knows that you should use a WordPress development environment or a WordPress sandbox. It can be a completely clean WordPress website or a clone of the live website you’re currently making.
Whichever it is, it’s important because you work without affecting the actual website. That means you can try new things or make changes without fear.
And if you’re looking for a way to make such an environment, LocalWP by Flywheel is one of them. It’s free, has many features, and is generally easy to use. But it also has some drawbacks that prevent it from making your workflow as smooth as possible.
That’s why in this article, we’ll be looking at the best LocalWP alternative this 2023. Prepare to make your development process even faster and more efficient!
What is LocalWP?
As it says on their website, LocalWP is a local WordPress development tool. A local tool means you don’t need an Internet connection to develop any website—all you need is your laptop. And while it used to be available only for macOS users, the app is now also available for Windows and Linux.
Why is LocalWP well-known for creating a WordPress development environment?
When you search for reviews, you’ll find that people on Capterra and Product Hunt are giving this WordPress local development environment app glowing reviews. It’s pretty popular among WordPress developers for the following reasons:
It’s easy to use.
Whether you’re an experienced web developer or someone looking to explore using WordPress for the first time, LocalWP is a good choice. The steps in using it and creating a test website are pretty straightforward. Just follow the instructions, and you’ll be able to make one in no time.
LocalWP is entirely free.
Back then, LocalWP used to hide premium features behind a paywall. But back in 2021, they announced that all their features would now be available for everyone to use.
They even offered refunds for those paying for their LocalWP subscription. What’s not to like about a free tool, right?
You don’t need the Internet to use it.
LocalWP is a WordPress local development environment. With it, you can seamlessly test your website or plugin without an internet connection. This feature is also great if you live in an area with poor Internet connectivity or plan to go somewhere off the grid for vacation but still want to continue working.
And if you think about it, some browsers can consume plenty of RAM while being used. That means your computer might potentially be slowed down—and so will your development process. Let’s not forget to add that being online exposes you to a lot of distractions.
Being offline is definitely helpful, especially if you’re working on a rush project.
LocalWP has plenty of valuable features.
The team that developed LocalWP made sure to include a bunch of features that will make WordPress development more manageable, such as:
- Flexible Server Environments: With a single click, you can choose between Apache and NGINX and see if your WordPress site works in different server environments. You can also switch PHP versions.
- Shareable URLs: With their Live Links feature, you can easily share your work with clients and team members. You can also check your website on different devices to see if you have optimized your site for those devices.
- One-Click Admin: You don’t need to memorize usernames or passwords when developing WordPress sites. Local gives you a one-click login feature.
- Cloud Backups: You can connect your account to either Dropbox or Google Drive and then quickly back up all the data related to your project. If you need to work on your site on a different computer, just install LocalWP on that computer and download the files to resume your project.
- Local Connect: When you’re done developing your site, you can quickly push it to Live to either Flywheel or WP Engine in a very straightforward process.
Of course, as much as LocalWP has a lot of great things going for it, it still leaves much to be desired. Here are some things about LocalWP that can slow down your development process:
You are device reliant.
One problem with using LocalWP is that you need a computer that has it installed. If it so happens that you don’t have a computer that has it, you’ll have to download it and install it all over again. That already means a delay in your WordPress development workflow.
Furthermore, if your device doesn’t meet the required specifications to run LocalWP smoothly, it may not perform optimally, leading to plenty of delays and frustrations. Another possibility of delay is if your computer crashes due to malware or other issues. You might have to start over again if you don’t have online or offline backups.
If you haven’t backed up your work online, that would be one more problem since you won’t be able to work even if you put InstaWP on a different computer. And speaking of backups…
Backups are not automatic.
You can start backing up files as soon as you link your cloud backup to your LocalWP account. However, do note that, for now, backups are not automatic. That means if you forget to back up your work and something happens to your work or your files, you’ll have to redo everything from scratch, which isn’t ideal if the project you’re working on is a rush job.
Live links have limitations.
LocalWP’s live links mean sharing your progress with your clients and teammates is convenient. However, these live links are only meant for viewing. That means if you want your team to continue the work you started, you’ll have to back up your work online and get them to download it on their end.
In short, LocalWP is not really a good tool for remote teams.
Another issue with live links is that websites are displayed very slowly. It doesn’t make a good impression on clients. They might feel that the website you’re presenting them is poor quality.
Other apps can come in conflict with LocalWP.
In the Kaspersky forum, there was a question about Kaspersky throttling the capabilities of LocalWP. And since it is an app on the computer, this can happen. Who knows what other apps will interfere with LocalWP?
Migrating the site can only be done with Flywheel or WPEngine.
If you think about it, this makes sense. After all, LocalWP IS by Flywheel, which WPEngine acquired. However, what if you wanted to use a different host or if you already bought a subscription to one before using LocalWP?
Does that mean you’ll have to spend on another subscription just to get your website live?
While this problem can easily be solved via a plugin, it’s still an additional hassle on your end.
Developing locally is not the same as developing online.
Developing your website offline may seem convenient, but it doesn’t accurately reflect real-life situations. Your computer has more power than an online server, so things that work fine locally might become buggy when your website is live.
The Best LocalWP Alternative: InstaWP
If you’re not satisfied with these limitations, it’s best to try a different app. Unfortunately, there aren’t many options that can quickly create a test WordPress site or sandbox, causing further delays in your work. But you don’t have to look far for options.
In fact, one of the top choices out there is none other than InstaWP. It’s a 1-click staging site that spins up a test site in seconds. And as it says on our website:
What Makes InstaWP a better choice than LocalWP?
Creating a WordPress staging environment using InstaWP actually gives you many advantages over Local WP. Here are a few:
InstaWP can be accessed on any internet-ready device.
You won’t be stuck at one computer when you create your staging environment on InstaWP. InstaWP is online, meaning no matter what computer or device you use, you can test and develop your WordPress site as long as there’s internet.
And speaking of development, since you will be making test sites online, the result of your development will be close to having a live site. You’ll get more realistic results than when developing offline.
Test websites are easily shared.
The great thing about InstaWP sandboxes is that sharing them with your team and client is easy. On your InstaWP dashboard, go to the rightmost part of the name of your website, click the three dots, and then click View Creds.
The site’s details will appear, including the username and password. InstaWP makes them easily shareable with anyone.
Your team can start working on the same site without needing your computer.
You don’t have to worry about storage or backups.
Backing up is easy with InstaWP. You don’t have to connect any third-party apps or worry about offline storage. Everything you do is backed up to InstaWP’s own server.
Also, while test sides expire after a certain period, that doesn’t mean your work will disappear. You can quickly restore them within the Dashboard when they expire:
And if you want your site never to expire, just Reserve it in the Dashboard—it’s only available on paid plans, though.
You have more options in terms of migrating your site.
While LocalWP only lets you take your site live via Flywheel or WP Engine, InstaWP lets you migrate your site via the following options:
- WP Bolt
- Server Altar
If you’re subscribed to any of these, your subscription won’t be wasted. And if you want to host your website directly with InstaWP, you can go ahead with one of the InstaWP live partners, e.g. WPCloud.
In no particular order, here’s a look at some of the features of both.
- Staging sites are all created inside InstaWP, so you don’t need external hosting and will not take up space in your hosting server
- One-Click login is available
- Easily push and pull your test site
- Site creation is done in seconds
- Site migration is possible via different hosting providers
- Some features are hidden behind a paywall
- Create and save templates or boiler WordPress site
- No need for a WordPress account to create a WordPress sandbox
- Integration with Git and GitHub
- Support is easy to access
- Cloning sites are easy
- Has a WordPress plugin
- Magic logins
- Developer tools
- Free for everyone; all features are available
- A WordPress account is required to use LocalWP
- Cloning templates is possible
- One-click admin is available
- Multiple websites are possible as long as your computer hard drive can accommodate it
- Live links make for easy viewing of test site
- Backups are available via Google Drive or Dropbox
- Developer tools
As mentioned above, LocalWP is free to use for everyone. InstaWP, on the other hand, has both paid and free options:
Of course, the higher the tier you purchase, the more features you unlock. However, the free version of InstaWP is more than good enough for testing and developing sites—you’ll still get your WordPress sandbox in seconds.
Even better? You don’t even have to sign up for an InstaWP account to use it. Just click the Try For Free button on the upper right of the home page, and you’ll be taken to this screen:
As you can see, all you need to do is choose the WordPress version, PHP version, and configuration, and you can launch your site instantly. This test site will expire after eight hours, but getting a test site is still fast and easy.
Comparison Table: InstaWP vs LocalWP
|Pricing||Free||Free with paid tiers|
|WordPress Account||Needed||No Need|
|Internet Connection||Not Needed Unless Pushing/Pulling||Needed|
|Instant Site Creation||Yes||Yes|
|Template and Site Cloning||Yes||Yes|
|Backups||Has to be configured||On InstaWP servers|
|Hosting||Flywheel and WPEngine Only; workaround via plugins||Various hosts are available|
|Links for Sharing||Yes; no development possible||Yes; with development|
|Accessibility||LocalWP has to be installed on a computer||Any browser and device with Internet access|
|Support||Community||24/7 Actual Human Support|
|Integrations||Limited to certain apps||A wider range of apps|
|Memory And Space Required||Computer Dependent||InstaWP’s servers; any browser|
LocalWP is great for creating offline WordPress test sites and has found some fans and supporters in the WordPress world. However, for more convenience and a faster workflow, InstaWP is a better choice, hands down. It won’t drain your computer of hard drive space, it backs up your work on its own servers and gives you a much more realistic view of your development process.
Sign up with InstaWP for free today and see for yourself how you’ll get a more efficient WordPress development workflow!