There are a couple of ways to install WordPress, and you should do it in a way that works for you. Some hosts have “one-click” installs via applications that install WordPress without you getting your hands dirty. You can also install it manually with an FTP client or Shell access. We’re going to go the manual route with FTP in this tutorial for a couple of reasons:
- There are simply too many hosts with different variations of automated installation processes.
- We want to know what’s going on, so we’re going to “get our hands dirty”, if you will. Don’t worry though, we won’t get too terribly dirty — one of the best things about WordPress is how easy it is to work with.
Now hold your horses, we need to make sure you have the few tools and some information required to perform a manual install.
Tools needed for a manual install
- FTP or Shell access – FTP is the simplest way to go here. File Transfer Protocol allows you to guess what… transfer files. This is how you upload and download files to your host’s server. There are a lot of choices for FTP clients, or the interface that connects you to the server. I personally use FireFTP (Mozilla Firefox app), as it is lightweight, is an in-browser application, and does everything you need for WordPress purposes. Another popular, well documented, Mac / Windows / Linux capable desktop application is the FileZilla client.
- Text Editor – When working with code, you need a text editor that doesn’t alter what you input, a.k.a, Microsoft Word IS NOT a text editor. Notepad (for Windows) and TextEdit (for Mac) are the default system text editors, but they are super lightweight and don’t come with any frills. I personally love Notepad++ for Windows, because it is powerful enough and also simple enough for my needs with WordPress. I hear TextWrangler is a good alternative to Notepad++ for Mac users. There are also paid versions of TextEditors and many other free ones. View a larger list put together on WordPress.org.
Required information to perform an install
- FTP login info – You should have established FTP login information with your host already. You need your username and password for FTP access to the server. The address for the FTP site will be like your web address, but instead of http://domain.com, it will be ftp://domain.com. If you have WordPress installed in a subdomain of the primary domain you host with, then you will still login to the primary FTP account and perform the install in a folder within that account.
- cPanel (hosting control) login info – You need to make sure you know how to access your hosting control panel, or cPanel, with your host so that you can set up the database for WordPress. It is possible that your host already set up a database for you, and you will need your database name and user information handy.
Alright, we’ve got our tools, so let’s get started.
Steps to install WordPress
Download the latest stable release
WordPress is an open source software that is constantly being improved upon by members of the community. The development goes on in the background so that end users only get stable versions on live installs. The most recent, most stable version is always on the WordPress.org download page. You should always be running the most recent release to protect your site and never be afraid of updates!
So head on over there and click the big blue button for the direct download of the zip file.
Create a database and user
You need to create your MySql database and username for the installation. The easiest way to do this is usually through your host’s cPanel, or hosting control center. Login to your account and look for a link called MySql, Databases, or something similar. There should be a guide similar to the pictures below that walk you through naming your database and creating a user.
After you name your database appropriately, you’ll also need to input a database host. Typically localhost is what you use, but not always. Some popular hosts use other names, and you can view them here, but certainly verify with your host the appropriate name.
When you create the user, remember to choose a good long password with upper and lowercase letters and some numbers too. Remember both the database name and user information, because we will need it for the next step.
In our WordPress download from earlier, there is a file included called wp-config-sample.php. We need to edit that file and rename it to wp-config.php. So open up wp-sample-config.php in your text editor, and let’s alter the following values.
/** The name of the database for WordPress */ define('DB_NAME', 'database_name_here'); /** MySQL database username */ define('DB_USER', 'username_here'); /** MySQL database password */ define('DB_PASSWORD', 'password_here'); /** MySQL hostname */ define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');
- Replace database_name_here with the database name you defined in the previous step, keeping the single quotes.
- Replace username_here with your database username you defined in the previous step, also keeping the single quotes.
- Replace password_here with your database password you defined in the previous step, also keeping the single quotes.
- localhost can stay the same unless your host uses a different name as described in the previous step.
Next we need to set up our secret keys. There are eight lines in a row that say “put your unique phrase here”. These are security keys that were introduced in WordPress 2.6 and enhanced in WordPress 2.7. Note that this is extremely important, and you should not slack off from using a proper security key!
WordPress has even made this task super easy for you with this secret key generator. Just go to the url and copy the code and replace the existing lines in your config file. This url randomizes the keys so they are unique every time the page is visited. Yes, they are supposed to be crazy long and full of weird stuff.
Once you finish with the edits, be sure to rename or copy this file as wp-config.php. If you don’t do this WordPress won’t think you did anything at all.
If you want to read all of the nitty gritty details of editing wp-config, check out the WordPress Codex page about it.
It’s time to upload our files!
Alright, pull up your FTP client and login. After you login, find the directory you want to load WordPress. If you want WordPress to be on the homepage of your site (which I recommend) it needs to go in the root folder. Depending on your host, the root folder may actually have its own place in your FTP connection. If you don’t put your files in the root, visitors will have to go to http://yourdomain.com/whatever-folder-you-want to see your WordPress site.
When you upload your files, you don’t upload the entire WordPress folder, but rather open the WordPress folder and upload each file and folder into the root or subdirectory depending on where you are installing it.
Run the install script
Let’s visit your new WordPress site! Go to http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php. If you didn’t upload WordPress in the root folder, then you need to insert that folder name, such as http://yourdomain.com/whatever-folder-you-want/wp-admin/install.php.
Now you will be greeted with the WordPress setup page. You need to input your site title, the admin username (I recommend NOT using admin!), a strong password (you can use the same one as you used for the database if it makes it easier), and your email that will be used for notification purposes. You can also choose whether you want your site to be indexed by search engines, which if the site is not for private purposes, you want to leave that checked.
Click “Install WordPress” and you should be done! You can visit your url where you installed it to check and see how it looks. Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed WordPress and it is time to make it awesome!
Did you recieve an error notification? Check out the most common errors and how to fix them.
You will now be greeted by the default WordPress theme on your homepage. If you want to get familiar with the backend, go to http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin, login, and look around. As the administrator of your new website, you’ll spend a lot of time here.
With your new website, you may find it advantageous to have a local setup as well, and we can walk you through it. You may also want to enable WordPress Multisite if you run a network. But first, check out our resources to picking your first theme.