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DevKinsta Review – An Awesome Free Tool for Creating Local WordPress Websites!

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DevKinsta is a free tool that makes it very easy to install WordPress on your computer, as opposed to the more common approach of installing it on a web hosting account.

The main benefit of creating a local WordPress installation such as this is you’ll have an offline environment where you can work on a new website in private. You can then transfer that site to your hosting account when it’s ready to go live.

If you have a Kinsta hosting account (here’s our Kinsta Hosting Review for anyone that hasn’t), DevKinsta makes the process of transferring your site between the environments very straightforward. If you’re using a different host, it can still be done but it’s not as convenient.

While there are other tools for creating a local WordPress installation, DevKinsta aims to make the process as quick and easy as possible, while also being 100 percent free to use.

So, if you like the idea of quickly creating a WordPress website that’s installed on your local computer, where you can safely try new plugins, test themes and work on custom code, DevKinsta could be the tool for you.

In this review, I’ll cover exactly what this tool can do, who it’s for and how to set up a local WordPress website with DevKinsta.

Let’s get started…

What Is DevKinsta and Who Is It For?

DevKinsta is a tool for creating local WordPress websites.

DevKinsta has been made available by Kinsta, a well-known name in the managed WordPress hosting space. As mentioned, you don’t have to be a Kinsta customer to use it, but Kinsta customers will get more out of it than those using other web hosts.

But what exactly is DevKinsta? According to Kinsta, it’s a ‘free suite of local development tools for building, testing and deploying WordPress sites in minutes’.

What this means is you can quickly create a WordPress website on your computer — rather than on a web hosting server — which only you can access.

You can then work on that site in private at your own pace. Then, when you’re ready, you can copy the site to your hosting account to make it available online.

Some of the benefits of having a local WordPress installation include:

  • being able to work on your new site in private until it’s ready to go live
  • the ability to make changes to a copy of your site without worrying about breaking your live site
  • having a quick way to transfer files between your local computer and online hosting environment
  • having access to a safe space for testing WordPress updates, as well as new themes, plugins and code
  • the ability to speed up development time, as an offline WordPress website is usually faster than one hosted online
  • not being reliant on a constant internet connection while you work, as the local site is offline
  • the ability to safely test and restore backups of your site.

DevKinsta can deliver all of those benefits, depending on your current web host.

For high levels of compatibility, DevKinsta works on Windows, macOS and Ubuntu. Therefore, if you’re using any of these operating systems, you can use this tool to quickly set up a WordPress website on your computer.

However, DevKinsta and its underlying software do have some system requirements that mean it won’t work on all computers. You can view the full requirement details on the DevKinsta website.

So far, DevKinsta definitely sounds good in theory, but what’s it like to use in practice? Let’s find out in the next part of this review.

How to Set Up a Local WordPress Website with DevKinsta

As mentioned, DevKinsta is free for anyone to use, not just Kinsta customers. However, you do have to enter an email address to access the download page. Once that’s out of the way, you can download the installer file to get started.

DevKinsta sign up to download
DevKinsta is free to use, but you must enter an email address to access the download page.

Install DevKinsta

As well as downloading the DevKinsta installer, you may also need to download the Linux kernel update package and run a command via PowerShell if you’re using Windows. I also had to install a Linux distribution (I chose Ubuntu).

Ubuntu installer
If you’re using Windows and need to install Ubuntu, you can do so for free via the Microsoft Store.

The initial installation process took about 30 minutes, but after that it only took a few minutes to start DevKinsta each time I wanted to use it.

Create a Local WordPress Installation

Once the software was installed and running, it really did only take a few clicks and minutes to create a local WordPress installation.

Options for starting a new site
You can start a new WordPress website or import an existing one from your Kinsta hosting account.

When setting up a new site, you have three options:

  • Create a WordPress website with the default settings.
  • Create a WordPress website with custom settings.
  • Import a WordPress website from a Kinsta hosting account.

In most situations, the default settings should be fine. If that’s the case for you, then all that’s required is a site name, username and password.

WordPress website details
All you need to enter is a site name, username and password before DevKinsta creates the new WordPress website.

However, there are some settings for your site that you can adjust, including:

  • which version of WordPress is installed (various options from 3.9.34 to 5.7.2 are currently available)
  • which PHP version is used (versions 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, and 8.0 are currently available)
  • if HTTPS is enabled or not
  • whether it’s a multisite installation or not.

Once a WordPress website has been created, you can view its info and find the links that let you view the site and access the database.

WordPress site info
You can view the WordPress websites you’ve created in the DevKinsta app dashboard.

Because of the way DevKinsta works, you can create multiple local WordPress websites, each with their own settings, including different PHP and WordPress versions.

Import an Existing WordPress Website

As well as creating a new WordPress website, you can also import a WordPress website from a Kinsta hosting account you have access to.

Doing so gives you the ability to work on an offline clone of an existing site, and then push or transfer that new version of your site to your Kinsta hosting account. Because DevKinsta lets you transfer your offline local site to your Kinsta staging environment, you can continue testing in a private online environment before pushing the site to your public live environment.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to copy a site that’s hosted elsewhere to a local WordPress website created with DevKinsta or vice versa using this tool. If you do want to do that, you can use a WordPress cloning or duplication plugin to copy the site yourself.

View Your Local WordPress Website

Once you’ve created a new local WordPress website, whether it’s a fresh installation or a clone of an existing site, you can access it in your browser via a local URL generated by DevKinsta.

I’m pleased to report that this tool creates a clean installation of WordPress. No additional plugins or themes are installed beyond what’s included with WordPress by default.

You can also enable WP_DEBUG for your sites, helping you to troubleshoot any issues that may occur while you work. You can view the logs generated by DevKinsta to give you more insight into how your site’s working too.

Access the WordPress Website Database

While you’re working on your local site, you may want to edit its database. Thankfully, DevKinsta makes this very straightforward. Clicking on the relevant button in the DevKinsta interface lets you view and edit the database in your browser using the open source Adminer software.

Adminer database explorer
You can use Adminer to view and edit the database of your WordPress website via a browser.

Test Email Contact Forms

Another useful feature of DevKinsta is that it has an email inbox that gives you a way to test any use of PHP mail on your site.

Local email inbox
Each local site gets its own email inbox for testing purposes.

Because of this, you can test the contact forms and any other aspects of your site that send emails. Not only can you see if the emails were sent, but you can also conveniently view their contents in the DevKinsta app.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a Kinsta hosting customer, then using DevKinsta is a no-brainer.

As DevKinsta lets you easily transfer WordPress websites between your Kinsta hosting and local environments, it’s ideal for carrying out work locally before pushing changes to your live site via your staging environment.

Also, as Flywheel and WP Engine customers have Local, a similar app to DevKinsta, it’s good to see Kinsta customers getting something comparable.

If you’re not a Kinsta customer, you can still take advantage of DevKinsta. As I’ve covered, there are many benefits to being able to build your site locally, and then transfer it to your hosting environment. This is true even if you have to use a third-party tool such as Duplicator to handle the transfers.

There are other tools out there for creating local WordPress installations. However, none of them (apart from Local) are as user-friendly as DevKinsta.

DevKinsta is definitely a free and easy way to create multiple local WordPress websites, so, if that’s something you’d like to do, this tool comes recommended.

Used/using DevKinsta? Thoughts?

By Joe Fylan

Joe is an experienced WordPress user who enjoys sharing the tips and knowledge he's picked up from using this fantastic platform for many years. You can find out more about Joe on his website.
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