Installing WordPress on your computer is a great way to test and explore WordPress features. It’s also an excellent way to work on WordPress Themes and Plugins without exposure to the public view. When your site is set up and ready, it’s easy to move WordPress from your computer to your hosted server.
There are a variety of tools that will help you install WordPress to your computer dependent upon the operating system. Some are very simple requiring few steps to completion. Others are a little more complex, so read through the documentation carefully before deciding which one to try, or try several to get the feel of how they work and which ones will work for you and your needs.
You have two choices in making WordPress portable. You can install it on a thumbdrive or to your laptop or desktop computer. For my classes and workshops, unless you are used to bringing in your laptop, I recommend you install it on a Thumbdrive. Most of the computers in the classrooms where I teach are Windows based, so use Instant WordPress and install it to your thumbdrive.
Things You Need to Know About Installing a Portable Version of WordPress
Installing WordPress on a portable drive or your laptop allows you to develop and test a WordPress site, WordPress Theme, and WordPress Plugin without the site going live, isolated from the web and public view.
WordPress, WordPress Themes, and Plugins may be easily updated through the Administration Panel interface via the web or manually, but the content is not visible nor accessible to the public.
If you choose to do some of your WordPress homework on WordPress installed on your computer, please publish or share screenshots as examples of the homework assignments or use a version of a desktop WordPress installer installed on a USB drive and bring it to class for a little show and tell.
Be aware that there are currently only two color choices for making the Administration Panels (back end) of WordPress look different across multiple installations. Pay very close attention to which site you are on when you add or edit the site. Many people get confused between what is live on the web and what is the test site. Look at the upper left corner for the site name and consider changing the interface through Users > Personal Settings > Set Admin Color Scheme. Note that WordPress 3.6 currently has removed that option.
To migrate a site from a portable version of WordPress, see:
- Importing Content « WordPress Codex
- Moving WordPress « WordPress Codex
- Migrating and Importing Content « WordPress.com VIP
- Moving A WordPress Website Without Hassle | Smashing WordPress
There are also several WordPress Plugins that will help you move or migrate your site and push it out live. Check the WordPress Plugin Directory for your options.
Install WordPress on Your Laptop
For Windows operating systems the following options are available:
- Instant WordPress
- Microsoft’s Web Platform Installer
- Portable Web Server with XAMPP
For Mac operating systems:
Install WordPress on a Thumbdrive
To install WordPress on a portable USB drive so you can take it with you when you go, an excellent option for working with clients or bringing “homework” to class, consider these options:
I recommend Instant WordPress for my classes working with Windows systems. It is currently not available for Mac.
Other Options for Installing WordPress for Testing
When you are ready to install WordPress on your server, see the Installing WordPress instructions on the WordPress Codex.