4 Free Plugins to Test Your WordPress Site for Compatibility Issues

Creating a website with WordPress can be a challenging and sometimes frustrating pursuit, especially when you’re working with plugins or themes and you run into compatibility issues, which may break your site.

That’s why it’s a great idea to test your site for errors before implementing any changes.

Posting a copy of your theme, plugin, or site files on GitHub for community feedback is one way to solve issues before they cause problems. Unfortunately, you may have to wait a while for replies and fixing issues could take a while as a result.

Luckily, there are some free plugins that do a fantastic job of quickly helping you test various aspects of your site so you can catch any issues before pushing your content live.

The plugins in this collection allow you to do everything from setting up a site sandbox to cloning an entire site and ensuring your theme meets WordPress standards.

  • SitePush

    SitePush WordPress plugin

    The SitePush plugin is designed to copy site data and content and transfer it to another server for testing. It works on single site installations running on Linux or Mac OS X servers. It is known to work with Windows, but certain features will not work, including backing up files and clearing cache files.

    The plugin takes a bit more effort to install than your average WordPress plugin, but extensive instructions are included on the plugin’s page and in the plugin itself. Once installed successfully, you’ll enjoy smooth sailing.
    You’ll end up with a copy of your site that you can test by clicking all the links to make sure they point to the correct pages, as well as other functionality you may have like shopping carts and contact forms. Once you’re content, you can publish your site with peace of mind everything just works.

  • Theme Check

    Theme Check WordPress Plugin

    This plugin is sure to delight any theme developers out there. Theme Check runs the same automated testing on your site that the WordPress Theme Review team uses. The latest theme review standards are integrated to ensure your theme either meets or exceeds WordPress best practice. This plugins is also compatible with Multisite installations.

    All you have to do to test your theme is go to the Appearance tab in your admin area, then click on “Theme Check.” From here, all you have to do is simply select an installed theme from the drop down list and click the “Check it!” button. One step short of instantly, you’ll see information about the selected theme alongside a “Pass” or “Fail” notice.

    Theme Check WordPress plugin test with Twenty Twelve theme

    Now you don’t have to worry about implementing or uploading a broken theme. It takes seconds and you’ll save a ton of time.

  • Sandbox

    Sandbox WordPress plugin

    This is easily my favorite plugin of the four in this list not only because it can you test your theme – you can test absolutely everything – but it also checks for compatibility issues among your installed plugins. That’s pretty darn nifty if you ask me.

    Sandbow works by creating a copy of your site called a “sandbox”.

    Fill in the info in the Sandbox plugin tab to create a new sandbox

    Once the plugin is installed and activated, a new tab will be added to your admin area and you will be asked to back up your site before continuing. Navigate to the Sandbox tab and follow the instructions to create a new sandbox.

    Success message in the Sandbox plugin

    Click the “Create” button and wait patiently for the success message. Depending on how big your WordPress install is, it may take quite a bit of time, so be patient.

    Finally, activate the sandbox by clicking the “Activate” link. From here you will be able to test the entirety of your site for any compatibility issues which are present.

    I don’t recommend this plugin for Multisite installations at this point in time because while this plugin is great, there are still some basic issues that could cause troubles down the road, such as new database tables being created for each and every test. I tested it with my own Multisite install and personally found that it wasn’t compatible. While I can’t say that my findings are typical results for the masses, I would still exercise caution if you decide to go ahead and test it out on your network. If you do, please be sure to back up your entire site before installing and activating this plugin. In fact, I would advise that you do this before testing out any plugin on any kind of installation.

  • NS Cloner - Site Copier

    NS Cloner - Site Copier WordPress plugin

    This plugin is very similar to SitePush in that it copies your website’s content in its entirety to prepare it for testing. The difference is that NS Cloner only works with Multisite installations. The plugin needs to be network activated and it doesn’t just allow you to manually copy content to a new install, but actually creates a copy automatically.

    While this is a fast, efficient and great plugin by itself, it’s not without its problems. There are known issues with this plugin; specifically, NS Cloner only works with your main site and not any site in your network, it doesn’t work if you changed your database prefixes from the default wp_ setting and isn’t 100 percent compatible with BuddyPress.

    If you want an incredibly fast plugin like the NS Cloner that doesn’t have these restrictions and has even more features, check out our own Cloner plugin. It’s a viable and recommended alternative to the NS Cloner plugin.

    Interested in NS Cloner - Site Copier?

Do you have any plugins to add to this list? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

Image credit: Lemmling.

7 Responses

    • Hey Stacey,

      I definitely know what you mean. I was reluctant at first to add “Site Push” to this list until I tested the plugin and everything worked great. I didn’t notice any issues and many others have reported only great results themselves.

      I figured it was safe to add to the list, but I totally know where you’re coming from and I don’t blame you at all. I’m not sure if there are any planned updates for the future, but hopefully there will be.

      You could alternatively try the NS Cloner on this list to help test a site. It won’t copy your site to a new server like Site Push, but it can be just as effective if you remember to make a full backup of your site and network beforehand.

      Hope that helps clear things up a bit. Good luck finding an alternative plugin if Site Push won’t work for you!

      Jenni McKinnon

    • Hey Renato,

      Yes, they did a big update after I wrote this article and now any site can be copied. I took the liberty of retesting the plugin with a bit of sample content and personally found no issues.

      It’s important to note that I used a fresh install and uploaded sample content with the WordPress importer along with only two plugins (with added sample data).

      Some people have reported issues with deleting copied sites as the same files on the original and other copied sites were deleted. I did not find this was an issue when I tested it, but that doesn’t mean the bug doesn’t exist for other people and potential users.

      For this reason, don’t forget to make a full backup of your entire site including files and database before using this plugin. Better safe than sorry as the old adage goes.

      If you’re interested in upgrading, I did notice that our Cloner plugin is less expensive and has numerous options that the paid version of NS Cloner does not.

      Personally, I use WPMU DEV’s Cloner plugin because I find it’s faster and I particularly like the option to automatically hide copied sites from search engines, which is useful if you’re just wanting to create a copy of a site to test new plugins or themes before making changes public.

      Still, the free version of NS Cloner is great on its own and out of the box and I would highly recommend it. Overall, the retest of the free version was great and I didn’t come in contact with any issues.

      Hope that helps! Let me know how the NS Cloner plugin works for you if you end up using it for your sites. :)

      Jenni McKinnon

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