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Should You Give Admin Access to Plugin Developers for Fixing Bugs?

Have you ever installed a WordPress plugin only to find that it doesn’t work?

When it’s a free plugin, it doesn’t matter because you can easily switch. But what if you paid for this plugin?

You can ask for support. However, in some cases the plugin developer may ask you for admin access to your site to debug the issue.

Giving admin access to third-party developers is uncomfortable. Being a plugin user, I completely understand that.

On the other hand, I can understand the reasoning behind asking for admin access because my company sell WordPress plugins.

Recently one of our users asked: should you give admin access to WordPress plugin developers for fixing bugs?

To answer this question, you first need to understand why would a plugin developer need your WordPress admin access.

Why Do They Need Admin Access?

When you report a bug, the first thing most good developers do is try to reproduce the issue on their testing site. If they can replicate the issue, then they solve the problem and update the plugin.

Now if they can’t replicate the bug you’re reporting, then it’s impossible for them to fix it.

You’re probably wondering, why can’t these smart developers replicate the problem that you’re having?

Well that’s because each site is different. There are different web hosting environment and different combination of plugins / themes. One or more of these variables can be causing the issue.

When a plugin developer is testing their plugin, they don’t have any other plugins activated, and they’re using the default WordPress theme.

This is why sometimes the bug that you encounter is specific to your site. Maybe it’s a bug with a theme that you’re using or with a combination of other plugins that you have installed.

In order for plugin developers to fix the bug, they must know what’s causing the issue. This is why they ask for your WordPress admin access, so they can have all the same variables.

Should You Give Admin Access to Developers?

Yes, you need to give admin access to plugin developers if you want the bug fixed.

No, you do not have to give them admin access to your live site.

What the plugin developer need is the same environment as your live site (i.e same host, same plugins installed, same themes, and same settings).

They don’t need to have access to

What the user fear is the plugin author will mess up their live site and affect hundreds or thousands of visitors.

The solution is to give them access to a staging or test site.

In short, you need to install WordPress on a subdomain like, and make sure that it has the same theme and plugins. Next, you need to ensure that you are getting the same bug on this test site as your live site (which you should).

In most cases, you can ask your web hosting company’s support team to create a staging environment for you. Just ask them to replicate the site on a subdomain, and they can do it much faster than you.

Alternatively, you can use a plugin like BackupBuddy to migrate your settings.

Once you have the staging / test site, then you can give the plugin developer admin access to that.

It’s good to have a staging environment in place, so think of this as an investment.

Make sure you do a background search

Even though you’re giving access to a staging site, I always recommend that you do a little background search on the plugin developer or a company.

Look at how they’re perceived in the industry. See if there are positive / negative reviews about them.

I hope this article helped you answer the question: should you give admin access to plugin developers for fixing bugs.

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Reader Interactions

12 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Thanks for the article, I totally get the need for trust / co-operation.
    1. What about sending a backup of your site to the plugin developer and letting them create a staging site?
    2. But perhaps the bigger issue, for me, is whether you’re exposing yourself to fraud if you’re running an eCommerce site and pass access to a plugin developer?

  2. David,

    Thanks for leaving a comment. First, we did not say it is the web hosting companies’ jobs to do this.

    However from our experience, when you ask nicely most of them are happy to do this for you. Specially if you’re on a cPanel web host. Why?

    Because it takes literally few clicks to move an existing site to a new subdomain on the server end.

    I won’t get in a debate about WP is easy to use or not because that’s your opinion. I have success stories of users who started learning from WPBeginner in 2009 and today are running successful web design agencies of their own. Others who have started much recently and used our resources to build a website which helped them grow their businesses.


  3. Great article except for the part where you lead users to think that it is somehow the web hosting companies job to set up a test environment for them. This isn’t true. While many hosting companies have support staff who are well-versed in WordPress and other software, it isn’t part of their job to set up a test site for a user.

    In fact most hosting companies have specific clauses prohibiting help with 3rd party apps. I realize your articles are geared towards WP n00bs, but if they aren’t capable of replicating a WP install, then they probably shouldn’t be using WP to begin with. Or better yet, they should hire a knowledgeable Developer to do it for them.

    WP is deceptive in that to USE it is very simple, and most anyone can do it; but to CUSTOMIZE it requires knowing what you’re doing. It’s not all “push a button and it’s going to be just like I want it to be.”

    You do a disservice to your less knowledgeable readers by giving them the wrong information.

  4. I’ve had excellent support from reputable developers, and I like to return the favor by providing a great review.

    I think another key is to provide a clear description of the issue, and screencasts are very helpful.

  5. I would add that you should ALWAYS ask the developer to let you know exactly what the problem is and which files they changed to fix the problem… Especially if you give them FTP access.

    I’ve seem developers go in and change the core of a plugin that was not theirs, then when that plugin updates, the whole situation returns.

    If there is a conflict with a specific plugin, I always inform both developers and create a public thread somewhere – whether on or one of their sites – and direct both developers to that thread. This way they can (hopefully) work together to fix the issue.

  6. Hi wpbeginner,

    Thank you very much for this great article this is exactly what I need to know about what if I should give the plugin/theme developer admin access or not and what can I do about that.

  7. This is great guidance, thank you!
    Question – does having a copy of the site affect the search engines? In other words, would I get penalized for having “duplicate content”? If so, how would I prevent search engines from crawling my staging site?

  8. Nice post WPbeginer.

    Generally speaking the best way to solve bug and help your user is to have access to their WP admin.

    So far we haven’t found any of our customers refusing to send us their WP admin details :)

    I would say that is trust between users and developers :)

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