Installing WordPress on a server can be an automated or manual task, depending on your hosting provider. This post will guide you step-by-step through both automated and manual WordPress install.
If you are only interested in manual installation, please scroll down to the respective section.
Automated WordPress Install on a Server
If you have hosting with a cPanel or similar, you’d often have the option for one-click-installs of different software, including WordPress. The one-click install can be found in your main cPanel menu. Depending on your hosting provider, the name of the icon you have to click on might vary but it is often called either Softaculous or Site Building Software.
Clicking on this icon should lead you to a new window where you can choose from a list of installs. Click on WordPress. You’ll enter a setup window where you’ll have to choose where WordPress should be installed (choose your domain URL or a subdirectory and install WordPress there). You’ll have to also specify, whether the site will use SSL and whether the domain will be naked or use www structure.
You’ll also have to specify a name for your site and a description, as well as choose username and password for the Admin account, which is created during setup. Be sure to choose a secure password in order to protect your site as good as possible from hackers!
Important! Remember to write down and save your username and password, as they are your key to your new site!
You have also the option to schedule backups and install a security plugin, limiting the number of login attempts (helpful against brute force attacks), as well as set up notifications and updates of WordPress and installed plugins (available in the Advanced Options tab).
Last but not least, you have the option to choose, which of the default themes you want to use on the site. This setting is necessary in order to create the blog but does not mean that you actually have to use the theme you choose. This is just a technical formality. You can change the theme both right after accessing your site for the first time and later on.
You shouldn’t worry too much about all these settings dog – WordPress is a very flexible system that allows you to change almost everything at any time. The only thing you can’t change is your username.
After you have performed the setup, you get 2 links: for accessing both the site itself (as a visitor) and for the Admin panel. Click on the link to the Admin panel and – when prompt – enter your login credentials.
Voila! You can start blogging!
Manual WordPress Install on a Server
Installing WordPress on a server manually requires that you have access to a server, either in form of a hosting account, VPN, cloud, or private server. In addition, you must have a domain name, set the DNS (domain name servers) correctly to point to your server, and wait for it to propagate (meaning that you can access the frontend of your site by entering the domain name in your browser and the backend via cPanel or another server control panel).
Last but not least, you have to set up a FTP account. If you have access to your hosting account via cPanel, you can view or edit FTP settings and configuration by choosing FTP Accounts from the main menu.
A FTP account is usually automatically generated when your domain has propagated. You can use this one with the password you use to access the server. You can also create a new account and choose a different password for it.
No matter which is the case, make sure that your passwords for both the hosting account and the FTP accounts are very strong to lower the risk of your site being hacked and taken over by hackers.
The last step in the process is downloading and setting up a FTP client. In some cases, your hosting provider recommends or suggests that you use a specific one. It might be a good idea to follow their recommendation, as they usually provide configuration files and tutorials, explaining how to work with the recommended FTP clients.
If this isn’t the case, you can use FileZilla – which will be used to describe the process here. It allows for easy setup and automatic connecting to the server, after you have entered your credentials the first time.
To connect the FTP client to the server, you have to provide your host, port, ftp user name, and password. You can get these data from your FTP configuration settings in cPanel (click on FTP Accounts->scroll down to the account you want to use and click on it to unfold the configuration settings). If you’re in doubt about the process or can’t connect for some reason, try contacting your hosting provider – they should be able to help you out.
After you have all this in place, you can download the WordPress installation files (.zip). Unzip the files.
Connect to the server via the FTP client. If you use FileZilla, you’ll see all your folders and files on the computer in the left part of the program window and in the right – all folders and files on the server. You see usually the highest-level folders (such as MyComputer or MyDocuments in Windows, and the home folder for your hosting account on the server).
Click through the folders on your computer until you locate the folder, where you have unzipped WordPress. Click on this folder to see its contents. In FileZilla, you can see folder content in a window just below the one showing folders. The difference between the two windows is that you can only see loose files in the lowest window – and they are quite important.
Choose all of the files and folders that you can see there and drag and drop them into your home->public_html folder on the server.
Be aware that the process above is only applicable to root installations! As long as you want to install WordPress in a subdomain or subdirectory, you must first create a subdirectory in your public_html directory and install WordPress in it. If you already have an installation in public_html – that is, you’ve created a site, associated with your main domain – and you transfer the WordPress installation files –for a subdomain for example – there, you’ll be overwriting your existing site.
Creating a Database
After uploading WordPress to your server, you have to create a database for it. Do that by clicking on MySQL Wizard in the main menu (the name may vary from hosting provider to another) and start the process of creating a new database. Alternatively, you can click on MySQL Databases, it offers the same option to create a database.
Choose a name for it that will tell you which database is associated with the WordPress installation (in the course of work on your site you’re likely to end up with multiple databases). The database name consists of a part, which associates the database with your hosting account and can’t be changed, and a part, which is editable. When you use the name though, you have to enter the full database name.
Next step is to create a user by choosing username and password. The username consists once again of unchangeable part and a part that you’re free to choose yourself. Be sure to choose one that isn’t easy to guess – typing many random characters, combining numbers, small, and capital letters should do the trick.
After clicking on create user, you’ll be prompted to choose privileges associated with the user. Select all and continue. With this step you finalize the database setup.
Connect WordPress to the Database
Next, you have to find the wp-config-sample.php file. It is one of the “loose” WordPress files that you uploaded to the server. Open it with a plain text editor. Find the lines asking for database name, user, and password and enter your database credentials. Rename the file to wp-config.php, save it, and upload it back to the server.
Initiate the Install Script
Now you’re ready to initiate the WordPress installation. Go to your future site’s URL by typing your domain name in the browser. You’ll get redirected to the WordPress install script. As a first step, you should choose your preferred language for the user interface.
Note! If you are instead redirected to an error message that WordPress cannot connect to the database, you should double-check the database credentials you entered, as well as whether you have typed them the right place in wp-config.php. Be aware that every comma and symbol has a meaning in code, so you should be careful to ONLY replace the placeholder text, WITHOUT deleting or altering anything else, including the ‘ ‘ around the placeholders!
You’ll then see a window, where you can choose a title for the site, a username, and a password – don’t use the same username and password as for your database – this presents a security risk.
If you don’t want search engines to index your blog just yet, tick the Privacy option. Be aware though, that this doesn’t prevent people from discovering your site. Search engines can also choose to ignore this setting.
If you’d like to keep visitors out, while building your blog, you might want to install a plugin as Ultimate Coming Soon Page. You can do this, after WordPress is up and running.
After filling out your preferences, click on Install WordPress. All settings – with the exception of your username, can easily be changed from within WordPress later on, so don’t sweat too much on them.
You should now get a notification that WordPress is installed. You’ll also see your username and a link to login. Click on the link and enter your login details.
Now, you can start creating your site.