There are myriad reasons why you might choose to work on an “offline” WordPress website – i.e. one that exists on your computer only and isn’t accessible from the web. Perhaps you’re not ready for the world to see your site yet, you want to test changes to an existing site before going live with them, or you are simply looking to tinker with WordPress without having to purchase a hosting service.
Whatever the reason(s), the process of installing WordPress locally on a Windows PC can seem unduly complicated. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. With a completely free piece of software and this guide, you’ll be up and running with your own local WordPress installation in no time at all.
In this post, we’ll walk you through our step by step tutorial on how to install WordPress locally on your Windows PC using a single free tool. Before we begin, however, let’s take a look at why you might want to spring for a local WordPress installation.
Why Should I Have a Local WordPress Installation?
I’ve already mentioned a few reasons as to why you might choose to install WordPress locally. Let’s quickly revisit them along with some others:
- Theme designers and plugin developers can develop and test their products.
- Web designers can build out websites offline.
- Website owners can test changes and improvements to existing sites before rolling out live updates.
- WordPress users can update themes and plugins in an offline environment to test for any issues before going live.
- Any WordPress enthusiast can tinker with the content management system (CMS) without fear of the potential fallout.
Just about any WordPress user can find one compelling reason from the above list to justify creating an offline WordPress installation, especially considering that it doesn’t have to cost a penny. It can make your life easier in a number of ways.
Just one more thing before we move onto the process of installing WordPress on your PC – let’s take a look at the software you’ll be using.
What is WampServer?
WampServer is a free tool that creates a complete web development environment on your Windows computer, allowing you to run a local web server.
Since WordPress isn’t a standalone application, it needs some server-side software to run on. WampServer provides the necessary environment, complete with PHP, MySQL, and Apache2. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to know what any of those are.)
Features and Functionality
- Runs on Windows.
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Manage Apache and MySQL services.
- Access settings files.
- Configure local server settings.
WampServer isn’t the only tool available for creating an offline WordPress installation; another popular solution is XAMPP. However, we consider the lightweight and easy-to-install WampServer the better option for most users – especially for those not technically inclined – so it is the tool we will be focusing on in this tutorial.
With all of the above in mind, let’s now move on to the fun bit!
How Do I Install WordPress Locally on My Windows Computer?
There are four steps to getting started with your own local WordPress installation for Windows, which we cover in detail below.
Once you’re done with this tutorial, you’ll be able to install and test themes and plugins, make modifications to your site, and test out custom code to check for compatibility issues, along with just about anything else you could imagine doing with a WordPress installation.
Step #1: Install WampServer
To start things off, visit the WampServer website and download the version that corresponds to your machine (32 or 64 bits). If you’re not sure whether your machine is 32 or 64 bits, just follow this guide.
Once the software is done downloading, run the setup to begin installing WampServer to your Windows computer. WampServer’s setup wizard will take you through the installation process. All you have to do is continue clicking the Next button and use your best judgment for the settings along the way (you shouldn’t run into any problems).
In the third step of the setup, you can choose which drive to install the software in:
It’s entirely up to you.
Once the installation is complete, head over to your Start menu and click on Wampserver32 (or Wampserver 64, depending upon the version you chose). WampServer’s pink icon should be added to your computer’s system tray.
Step #2: Test WampServer
It’s possible that you may run into teething problems at this stage, but never fear! There is usually an elementary solution.
Apache and PHP, which WampServer will be running, require Microsoft Visual C++ libraries to be installed on your computer. If you’re getting errors at this stage, then it’s probably because you don’t have them installed. You can get the libraries from Microsoft’s Download Center. If it still doesn’t work, then you can check out WampServer’s forums for further advice.
The quickest way to determine your server’s status is to check to see what color WampServer’s icon is:
- A red icon indicates that the server isn’t running i.e. it is offline.
- When your server is partially running, you’ll see an orange icon.
- When you see a green icon that means the server is running and you can access localhost from your browser.
Type localhost in your browser’s window when the icon turns green. It should look something like this:
So far, so good!
Step #3: Set Up the Database
If WampServer’s icon shows up green in your system tray, then you can start setting up the database for your local WordPress installation. Navigate to localhost once again from the browser. Under the Tools section, click on phpmyadmin:
On the next screen, you will be prompted to enter your username and password. For the username, enter root and leave the password blank. Head over to the Databases tab at the top of the screen and enter a name for your database, and click the Create button to continue:
You’ll need the database’s name to configure WordPress in the next step.
That’s all there is to it! You now have a functional database for your localhost WordPress installation. All that’s left to do now is install WordPress.
Step #4: Download and Install WordPress
Download the latest version of WordPress from WordPress.org. Next, extract the wordpress folder from the ZIP file and move it to WampServer’s www folder. With all of your WordPress files at wamp > www > wordpress, you can finally begin installing WordPress.
Launch your browser and go to http://localhost/wordpress/. You should see the language options screen of WordPress’ famous installer. Select a language and click the Continue button to proceed:
We recommend that you read through the next screen before moving on. Once you have, click the Let’s go! button at the bottom:
Now, enter the name of the database you created in the previous step and your username and password. The username we set in the previous steps was root and we left the password blank. You can leave the Database Host and Table Prefix options as-is. Click the Submit button:
In the following Information needed screen, fill out the required information that’s relevant to your WordPress website. The username and password you enter here will be your admin login credentials for your local WordPress installation.
That’s it! You should be redirected to your local site’s login page. Use the credentials you provided in the last step to login to your dashboard:
Welcome to your new local WordPress testing site on your very own Windows PC!
Any WordPress user would do well not to update their live website without first testing changes in a “safe” environment. A local installation on your Windows PC is about as safe as it gets, since no one will see the site but you. And with the above guide, you now have everything you need to get WordPress up and running locally.
Let’s take a moment to recap the simple four-step process we covered above:
- Install WampServer to begin setting up a local web development environment on your Windows computer.
- Test the WampServer installation to make sure everything works as intended.
- Set up a new database for your local site.
- Download and install the latest version of WordPress to begin using your new test site.
Having gone through the above process, do you have any questions about installing WordPress locally on your Windows computer? Let us know in the comments section below!