WordPress.org is a free software, but in order to use it you need to host in somewhere and you also need a domain name to launch your site.
What if you don’t have hosting and a domain, but still want to test WordPress for free? There are multiple options to achieve that. Today I’m going to share you the easiest way to test WordPress without paying anything.
Why would you need a WordPress test site?
While it’s the most popular website building platform on the web, you might need to use it for testing purposes for your new or existing website.
Here are some cases when you would need a free testing environment:
- You’re not familiar with WordPress and want to give it a try
- You have an existing website but need a staging environment
- You need to duplicate your website and test some ideas
- You want to test different WordPress products
- You’re a WordPress developer and need to tweak some functionality
- You want to showcase a website created with WordPress
How to install WordPress?
Normally, to create a website with WordPress you need the following:
Then, you install WordPress on your hosting (either manually or using the 1 click installation option) and then connect your domain with your hosting provider. Here is how to do it with Namecheap and SiteGround.
Alternatively, you can install WordPress locally (on your PC), but this is a more complex process and requires some advanced technical knowledge and software.
The easiest way to run WordPress without hosting and domain and without installing it locally is by using an online sandbox service.
What is an online WordPress sandbox service?
It’s an online service allowing you to create testing/staging websites powered by WordPress. It provides a temporary WordPress installation where you can test and play around with your site as you wish.
In this way you can test the platform without investing in hosting and domain (if you don’t have a website) and also avoid breaking your existing website (if you already have one and need to test stuff).
Setting up a new sandbox website takes minutes, so it’s a quick and easy process.
Top 5 WordPress testing/staging/sandbox services
Here is a list of web services you can use to create WordPress installations, launch temporary websites, adjust them, play around do whatever you want.
How it works
TasteWP is relatively new (launched in 2021) and it allows you to set up a WordPress testing website without registering an account.
The website creation process takes a few seconds! You get a temporary website hosted on tastewp.com subdomain, a username and password to access your backend area.
You can also opt for the Advanced Setup where you have multiple options to choose from, including WordPress version, PHP version, preinstalled theme, etc.
One of their coolest options is the one link setup URL. It creates a new WordPress website with preinstalled plugins or themes at your choice.
Simply add the slug of the plugin or theme from WordPress repository to this URL https://tastewp.com/new/?pre-installed-plugin-slug= and the system will preinstall it for you.
For example you want to create a new staging WordPress site with the Redirection plugin preinstalled. Just use this to quickly generate your site: https://tastewp.com/new/?pre-installed-plugin-slug=redirection
You can add up to 5 plugins at a time with this handy feature.
Free websites expire in 2 days if you don’t have an account and in 7 days if you have an account and are logged in. You can create up to 2 – 6 websites and you get 1GB of storage with a free account.
The premium plans start at $2.98 / month per site, without VAT. You get up to 40% Off if you pay yearly and get more websites at once. Here is what is included in the premium plans:
- 20 GB storage
- Your testing sites won’t expire
- Technical support
- Add your own domain (coming soon)
How it works
InstaWP works in a similar way as TasteWP. You click on “Try for free” choose the options and get a staging WordPress website in seconds (its’ really fast). The temporary site is hosted on a instawp.xyz subdomain.
InstaWP is probably the most complex service from this list, as it offers multiple advanced features like templates for site creation, FTP access, site cloning, custom branding, custom domain and more.
You can pre-install WordPress plugins on your test websites directly from WordPress plugin directory. For that, you will need to install their Chrome extension called InstaWP Launcher. It currently has 230 users.
Premium plans start at $9/month. Depending on the plan, you get extra storage – from 5GB to 25GB and a wide range of features for average users, developers or agencies. Here is what’s included in the personal plan:
- 10 websites
- 5GB of storage
- 5 templates
- 7 days of site lifetime
- FTP access
- Site cloning
You can save by paying annually or by using this promo code SEED20, it provides 20% Off on all plans.
One thing to note: there is a maximum expiry date for your test websites, they will be live for maximum 15 days. I don’t really like this approach.
How it works
WPsandbox.net is similar to the services described above, except that it guides you through a step by step site creation process. The temporary website is deleted after several hours and is hosted on a wpsandbox.org subdomain.
The pricing starts at €10 /month for the basic plan, which includes:
- 2GB of storage
- Email catcher
- 4 max sites
- 10 max temporary sites
You can save at least 25% if you pay annually.
How it works
WPSandbox.io is managed by Liquid Web, the same company that owns KadenceWP, The Events Calendar, GiveWP and many other products. WPSandbox is mainly for large agencies, so they can create test sites for their clients.
The premium plans start at $299 / month and include at least:
- 250 sandbox websites
- 100 templates
- 5 admins
- SSH and FTP access
While this website is no longer active I decided to include it in the list as it was one of the first services on the market. I’ve had some fun with this tool back in 2017, when in was launched.
The amusing name was chosen on purpose, so that people don’t use it for their own products or services. It was created by the guys who run WP All Import.
It was providing temporary WordPress websites for 7 days. You could also pre-install multiple plugins by appending their names to a special URL.
Over to you
That’s it guys, you now have an idea on how to quickly create a temporary WordPress website and test whatever you want. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments below.