Support » Everything else WordPress » Is it more efficient to develop on local, and then transfer to live?

  • I’m new to website development and am just about to develop 3 small websites ( not for clients ) on HostGator. Any opinions on the following:

    I’ve heard some say that it is more efficient(faster) to develop on local host and then transfer/synchronize to live host with a tool like BackupBuddy, Duplicator, or Structure.

    Any opinions on this? I.e do you prefer to develop your sites locally?
    If so any helpful tools/plugins?


Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
  • The answer is: Maybe. It all depends on how you work and how good your local setup is.

    I vary between developing locally or developing locally and pushing the files up to a development server.

    Working locally lets me do things faster, but because it’s not the exact hosting environment, some issues can creep in from time to time. Just smmall things that I should know better, like capital letters in file names (Linux is case-sensative and Windows isn’t) and things like that.

    Pushing the files up to a development server lets me see the site function as it would on the live site so there’s no issues. It just takes a little bit longer for me to FTP the files.

    “development server” is a new concept for me. It sounds like a non-local server with SVN or something on it. Is that what it is?

    It sounds like you use FTP to copy everything to your live site. True?

    Thanks so much for the response Michael, I appreciate it!

    Personally, I prefer to just create a live version from the get-go.

    Pros & Cons of Local Development

    1. It’s faster since you don’t have to wait on your network connection.
    2. Hides site from potential visitors while you work the bugs out.
    3. Ability to work offline.

    1. Doesn’t show true environment.
    2. Only accessible from one computer. (unless you use remote connection)

    Pros & Cons of Live Development

    1. Won’t get much traffic anyway since you’re not marketing it yet.
    2. Shows true environment.
    3. Accessible from anywhere (so you can check the layout on different screen sizes).

    1. Waiting on network connection
    2. Can’t work offline.

    Thanks so much Brandon! As a result of your remarks and considering tradeoffs, I plan on developing live using test site subdirs, and Backup Buddy to migrate from the testsite dirs to the actual domain.

    But I’d be curious. Do you have a ‘guess’ as to how much your development work would speed up if you were to work locally? Do you think it would be significant?

    Eh. I don’t think it’d be a significant difference for designing, but maybe for development work. If you’re writing a custom theme or plugin, I’d recommend doing a local installation so you don’t have to keep going back and forth and waiting on the network connection. If you’re just implementing a regular site, I’d go with the live installation. Doing a test directory like you mentioned is a good alternative as long as you backup your server before migrating.

    I prefer working on live demo, too. For small websites, I don’t think there will be significant saving in loading time.
    But a quick question, do you use a single database for all your test sites, or one for each site?
    I’m running out of databases, so…

    If you’re putting all of your test sites on a single server, you could just setup a multi-site in its own directory and then run each site from that. It’d use the same database while maintaining site indepedence.

    Thanks Brandon. Unlike quocnt I probably don’t need multi-site (since I only will have 2-3 sites). At what point ( i.e. how many sites) before one should consider using multi-site? It would be a big advantage to share one database, if that is possible.

    Hello! I’m quite a novice here, and I find this thread very interensting.
    This is my preferences:

    • A local WP install for every site I’m developing
    • I’m not developing 100 sites at once, so I just need a small Db with some lorem ipsum and the pc does not mind if I set up more than one
    • No multisite, as I don’t like switching from dashboard to dashboard and I can act in the core files of every site if I want to
    • Love local environment fort the first part of theme/css development/optimization and plugin testing, but I need the production server to be sure that everything is working flawlessly, so I go online, upload my site and use a “coming soon” plugin until I’m sure that the site is running smoothly. Fine-tuning always occur.
      My 2c 🙂

    Thanks Tamara-IT! Sounds good. I’m not going to use Multi-site (yet) either. I’ll only have 2-3 at first, and I have enough issues to learn as it is.

    I’m tempted to develop in a test area on live site, because people seem to indicate that for small theme dev like mine, the performance hit will be negligible.

    It sounds like your main motivation to be local is to make sure production is working. Do you have any comments on performance? That is, if you did develop “theme/css development/optimization and plugin testing” on the live site, would it cost you much in terms of time/effort?

    The main motivation to be local is that there’s no need to upload anything and that saves time when mamipulating CSS and files… Save + F5 and see what happens. When development goes near “show your site to the net” or I want to be sure about a plugin I switch live

    I forgot to ask Tamara-IT, ..what do you use to upload to the live site when that occurs? Do you use tools like (Backup Buddy), or just copy the files and DB manually?

    Hey craigwharris.

    Sorry, I haven’t been on the forums in a few days. I’d say 2 websites should be on separate servers. At 3 websites, it’s a toss-up. Any more than that should be on a multi-site. It just makes it easier to manage everything.

    That’s assuming you’re going with the live approach. If you’re doing a local installation then it really doesn’t matter. It’d be about the same difference as having a bunch of folders on your desktop or having them all in one folder.

    As far as choosing whether to do a local or live installation, it really just comes down to what you’re comfortable with. Either approach can seem confusing if you’re not familiar with it. If you have some free time, try doing a local installation for one site and a live installation for another so you can get an idea of what’s easiest for you and what you’re more comfortable with.

    Thanks Brandon for checking back. I think you have another good idea: try both methods for a while and see what fits. Previously my main concern was that constant uploading ultimately slows you down too much ( if you’re developing locally), although others seem to indicate that the slow down isn’t that significant – especially when factoring in the other tradeoffs(e.g. migration, behavior etc.).

    So I think I’ll try the combo approach. I bought Backup Buddy so that should help in any case.

    I’m not familiar with Backup Buddy, but you could’ve just created a new live site from scratch and then replaced the existing files with the files from your local installation using FileZilla. Since there wouldn’t be any users to worry about on your local installation, creating the new database wouldn’t result in any loss of data.

    Then again, maybe Backup Buddy is easier for you to use. I just support free methods of doing stuff as often as possible. There’s just so many free tools available that I don’t see a reason to pay for things when you don’t need to. Unless you’re paying for my professional web development services, that is. I encourage that. (:

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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