Whipping up a WordPress Site – Update

Among the many reasons for Whipping up a WordPress Website three stand out:
1 -Temporary testing site for new trial WordPress theme, plugins, styling and/or app;
2 -Staging site for trying and testing major website changes – trick is to quickly migrate in and out;
3 -Help in migration of a website to new server/domain and act as short-term backup.
Now Whipping-up a WordPress Website implies some preferred characteristics for such an app:
> Whipping-up implies fast and easy setup of the temporary WP website;
> The resulting website should also be fast allowing admin operations and actual testing to run quickly;
> Low cost per staging/temporary  website;
> There should be no limits on the WordPress website using BuddyPress, multi-user and any  legitimate WordPress theme, plugin and app;
> Simple URL domain naming;
> Security, backup, and support/help services associated with a good WordPress tool.
Now this developer relied first on extra websites on a shared hosting service like SiteGround and then moved to Boldgrid in 2018 when BoldGrid provided 10 WordPress website instances for $35US/year. Yes, the URL to an instance WordPress website  is a strange amalgam which  is not customizable – like so https://demo2.cloudwp.dev/trial-45ut457u/. Also, there is no email service except through WordPress SMTP plugins. But BoldGrid provided backup[Total Upkeep], SEO Services[Boldgrid Easy SEO], PageBuilder [Post and Page Builder]and a Performance Tuning coach. So intially BoldGrid met our need for quick, temporary WordPress workspace minus user set domain name, only second tier email service and no WPMU support. In sum, a working combo of temporary WordPress site services.

Boldgrid in 2018 delivered fast and easy setup, reasonable admin and runtime speed. In addition with Snaps theme and plugin templates, one could accelerate the temp site creeation. But by Spring 2022 BoldGrid – Cloud WordPress Goes Awry  had serious response problems because it put no limit on what users could run on their Boldgrid instances. So there has been an invasion of cryptominers, gamers and hackers whose compute-intensive  operations effectively reduced BoldGrid response time to a slow crawl. Instances Not Available became a plague including during BoldGrid Website Builder operations.  In short, time to look for a better Temporary WordPress website services.

Finding a good Whipping-up a Temporary WordPress Site Tool

This was the problem posed at  a Toronto WordPress Solutions meetup group.After an impromptu discussion, our group brainstormed 5 possible solutions. One popular method that was rejected right away was a LocalHost installation like Laragon,XAMPP, or Bitnami for 3 critical reasons
– 1)making localhost sites available on the Internet with a simple, unattended Web Url link is very hard hard to do. Yes, making the localhost link through Zoom, Hangup, Facetime or special livelink connection/session works, but it takes two to tango not like the more useful, unattended web link;
– 2)but even if you are able to view a localhost site thru Zoom or other livelink, it is still not possible to do a speed test of the site using GTMetrix or Pingdom. This is a big drawback;
– 3)each of the localhost test environs had some limits on what integrations or external network interconnections to other sites could be made.
Yes, most of the localhost tools allowed users to control what versions of PHP, MySQL [or other databases], JavaScript, versions, CSS scripts and other apps could be used. A few localhost tools allowed choice of Server Engine among Apache, NGinx, LiteSpeed being the most used options. Also the new WordPress site creation time was similar to common  online experience- 2 to 5 minutes. In contrast, Boldgrid and InstaWP could spin up a WordPress Website with user supplied theme and plugin list in 5-50 seconds as shown below.

But even more important BoldGrid has apparently cleared out the exploiter websites using BoldGrid for intense computaional tasks. But how BoldGrid did this and would they be able to maintain good response and uptime for clients is still  a valid  question .

So after careful discussion, here is our list of temporary WordPress website creation tools:
1 –Instawp delivers 15 sites with 5GB storage, 7day site expiry limit for $90US/year
2 –BoldGrid delivers 10 sites for $$35US/year or 20 sites for $60US/year .
3 –Siteground shared hosting offers backup, staging, email, multiple domains for $60US/year for 1st year on shared hosting. But the price after the first year jumps substantially;
4 –Cloudways offers your choice of Cloud hosting from five vendors for $144US/year for Linode 1GB Ram 25GB disk. But there are plugin restrictions and substantial setup time;
5 – Flywheel managed WordPress hosting for $1150US/year for 10 sites with 20GB storage &  200GB bandwidth
However, this list was quickly pared down to  InstaWP and BoldGrid given their easy and fast test website setup with full security, migration, and backup services. Also the cost savings of both  InstaWP and BoldGrid  are substantially better than all the other tools. The only gap in the two systems is lack of support for WordPress Multi-user plus domain naming and email ease in which case look to the other three WordPress service providers.  Qsandbox.com was a potential competitor – check out its features here

Substantially Similar Quick Hosting Services

If you look at the setup and control dashboards for BoldGrid and InstaWP  the underlying services are  the same.

dash

The interfaces dashboards are different but the features they offer are broadly similar as seen in the table below.

Category/ToolInstaWPBoldGrid
DashboardSettings and ControlSettings and control
Complete Table Setupvery good & fastvery good & fast
ConfigurationWP & PHP version, any theme or pluginWP , PHP Version, any theme or plugin
Site Creation Time2 to 25 seconds3 to 40 seconds
Speed of admin/editsmid to fastvariable to fast
Runtime speedLCP=1.3sec, TBT=0.24, CLS=04
Full load time=2.5sec
LCP=1.0s, TBT=0.54, ,CLS=03
Full load time=2.4sec
Runtime sizeSize=1.21MB, Requests=78Size=1.773MB,,Requests=86
Support/HelpChat but poor docsChat, email, good docs
Yearly low costsfree, 5 sites, 0.5GB size limit, 7 day expiryfree 1 site with full services
Yearly midcosts$90, 15sites, 5GB size limit, 7 day expiry$30 for 10 sites plus tutorials and plugins
Yearly high costs$240, 20 sites, 15GB size limit, 7day expiry$60 for 20 site plus theme, tutorial, and plugins
Killer FeatureVery fast site creation with simple settingsFirst to market with full features and free version
Killer Crashes2 day in Sep 2022 all sites inaccessible, slow support10 days no access to some sites, some site creation also fails - Spring 2022
InstaWP emphasizes special deployment and integration features many of which are still to appear while BoldGrid with its suite of plugins and theme templates offers broad WordPress development features. However, InstaWP offers clear mechnisms to control exploitation with total GB limits  to the sum of  active and expired instances, 7 day expiry of instances, 10 restores of expired sites, etc. Will this be enough to protect overall InstaWP response time or will InstaWP have to invoke more upper usage limits? In contrast, BoldGrid has not announced any public usage limits; but must be exercising some controls as response and uptime have improved markedly from Spring 2022.

So currently Boldgrid and InstaWP for a year will undergo further use and testing. Likely – a more detailed InstaWP review  as soon as the documentation improves. It is barebones in substantial parts; so where did the Automattic money go?
If this review has been helpful,  buy me a cup of coffee  or attend one of our info-packed WP Solutions meetups.

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