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Instances / Environments

When creating a new application within Clerk, you are provided with two instances: Development and Production. These instances vary slightly and should only be used appropriately.

Development instance

A Development instance is Clerk's default instance type and has characteristics that allow it to be more useful for local development. To facilitate development and local authentication, Development instances have a more relaxed security posture and are not suitable for production workloads.

Some notable examples of Development-only characteristics in a Clerk application are:

  • A Development banner is shown prominently in the Clerk Dashboard to make clear you're managing or configuring non-production data
  • Email and SMS templates are prefixed with the environment type to prevent against using Development instances for production purposes
  • Some social connections use shared credentials by default
  • Certain functionality, like bot protection, is only available in Production mode
  • The Account Portal will use a Clerk development domain that ends with accounts.dev instead of your app's production domain
  • OAuth consent screens will show the development domain that ends with accounts.dev instead of your production domain
  • Search engines will not be able to crawl and index your application
  • Development instances have a 500 users cap and user data can not be transferred between instances

All paid functionality is available in a Development instance. However, when you deploy your application to Production, you will be asked to upgrade to a Pro account. See our pricing page for full details.

Production instance

A Production instance is the more robust option of Clerk's instance types. Production instances are meant to support high volumes of traffic and by default, have a more strict security posture.

Some notable differences between Production and Development instances in a Clerk application are:

  • You must associate a production domain within the Clerk Dashboard
  • You are required to provision your own SSO credentials

When deploying to production, you must first activate your Production environment. Check out Clerk's Deploying to Production guide to learn about the process and avoid common pitfalls.

Last updated on December 20, 2023

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