WordPress is the best known and most popular website platform and content management system in the world. In addition, installing the WordPress software on your own host is very easy to do.
With proper preparation, installing the WordPress software does not have to take longer than five minutes.
Many hosting companies make it easy to quickly install WordPress using programs such as Softaculous. You will receive a standard installation with standard settings, and a number of security risks can arise that you can avoid with the manual installation of the WordPress software.
In this manual, I will show you how to install WordPress yourself manually in just a few steps.
What do I need to set up a WordPress site?
To get a website up and running, there are more things to look at besides the software. I list everything you need.
A domain name is a friendly, unique name under which your website can be found. A domain name server (DNS) translates the domain name into a unique computer address so that the computers on the internet can find the site.
Every domain name consists of a name and an extension. There are extensions for websites from certain countries, and extensions for other purposes.
Website hosting contract
With hosting, a hosting company offers space on a server on which you can place one or more websites. It is the “home” for your website. The server is constantly connected to the internet and lets other computers find your website.
The choice of a good hosting company to set up your website is very important. You want a reliable hosting company with fast servers, the latest software versions, and excellent support.
In the Netherlands, many hosting companies are of various quality. Some are very good, others are slow, work amateurish, and run older versions of essential software like PHP.
In addition, some hosting companies require that the domain name be registered with them when you want to purchase hosting. I am not in favor of this. I believe in risk spreading and do not want to depend on my host.
The easiest way to get the WordPress software on the server, and to create a database, is through the host control panel. There are of course ways to set up WordPress outside the control panel, but why would you make it harder?
There are many types of control panels – such as cPanel, DirectAdmin and Plesk – and the hosting company chooses which control panel and options they offer their customers. I have the most experience with cPanel, which gives you, among other things, easy access to the files on the hosting server, and lets you easily set up databases.
WordPress uses a MySQL database to store texts, website settings, and much more.
However, WordPress does not create this database itself during installation, you must do that yourself before installation. Only you as the owner of the space on the host have the access rights needed to create the database.
Most hosting companies give you the option to easily install WordPress via the control panel. This works fast, but it gives you a standard installation with default settings, which allow hackers to take over your site if you do not adjust it immediately.
I am in favor of installing WordPress manually. You then have all aspects of the installation under control, and you can choose the settings during the installation. The manual installation is so fast that the time saving of an automated installation does not outweigh the possible dangers.
You can download the – free – WordPress software from the WordPress website. I’ll show you where you get the software from and how you put it on the server.
A little guts
Installing a WordPress website is easy and can be done very quickly. If you have downloaded the software, you install the site in five minutes, but if you do it for the first time, it is still exciting.
You don’t have to worry at all. Little can go wrong, and if it goes wrong, you delete the site and start again. The world does not end, people do not laugh at you, and once you have done the installation, you have done it completely yourself.
Just do it.
Step 1: Download the WordPress software
The WordPress software consists of a packed file in .zip or .tar.gz format.
Just download the .zip file. You can also unpack the .zip file on your own computer without any problems.
Download the English version of WordPress
If you want to install the original English version of WordPress, download the software from the official WordPress website.
- On the download page of the WordPress site, there is a blue button at the top right that lets you download the latest version of the WordPress software (here 4.7). Click on the blue download button, download the .zip file, and save it on your desktop:
Step 2: Create a MySQL database
WordPress uses a MySQL database as the basis of the website. This database must be created before you can install the software. Fortunately, creating a MySQL database is very easy.
- Open a browser screen and go to the control panel (here cPanel) of your hosting company.
- Search for the Databases (Database Tools) section and click on the MySQL® Databases icon :
- Scroll in the MySQL-databases screen to Create a new database section (Create New Database). Type the name of the database you want to make this WordPress installation in the text box, and click the Create Database (Create Database) button:
- The name before the box is your hosting account name followed by a dash. The full database name is the combination of the account name and the database name: account name_databasename. For this manual, I use the name demo as the database name. I usually select a database name that I can easily recognize, which can prevent quite a bit of confusion and search when you have multiple websites running within the same hosting account.
Save the full database name – including the account name – in your records. You will need this for the final installation of WordPress.
Add a new user
To be able to use the database from WordPress, and to store data in it, you need a user name with the necessary rights to use the database.
- Proceed to add a new user (Add New User) :
- enter the new username you want to use for this database in the text box (maximum 7 characters)
- have the Password Generator generate a secure password and copy it to administration
- then click on the Create User (Create User) button
- The full username is the combination of the account name and the username: account_name_username. Do not forget to also store the full username and password in your administration.
Add user to the database
- The new user name must be assigned the full rights to the new database in order to use the database. To do this, go to Add user to database (Add User To Database) :
- select the new user name field user (User)
- select the new database name in the Database field
- click on the Add (Add) button:
- Now you come in screen Managing User Privileges (Manage User Privileges) :
- check if the right user and database are selected (you never know)
- Click in box ALL PRIVILEGES (ALL PRIVILEGES). This selects all other boxes
- Click on Apply Changes (Make Changes) button
- When the rights have been granted, a screen appears with the text:
- Finally, click on the Home or cPanel button on the menu to go back to the cPanel home screen.
Step 3: Upload the WordPress software to the server
When the database has been created and the user has been assigned the necessary rights, you can copy the WordPress software to the server. In step 1 you already downloaded the software and put it on your desktop, so we can continue with the real work straight away.
- To do this, go to cPanel, go to the Files section (File Management), and click on the File Manager icon :
- Select Web Root in the pop-up and click on the Go button. This takes you to the main folder of your hosting account: You now enter the File Manager, and the public_html folder is selected.
On the left side of the screen, you see an overview of all folders on the server, on the right side the files and folders that are in the selected folder.
In this manual, I assume that you have an account for one domain name and that the WordPress installation is installed in the public_html folder. The name of the folder may be different, depending on the server layout at your hosting company.
Upload the WordPress software to the server
- Click the Upload button in the menu bar to copy the WordPress installation software to the server.
- In the Upload files (Upload files) pop-up, click on the Browse button, and select the downloaded WordPress software file by clicking on it:
- The selected file is loaded directly to the server. When the upload is finished you will see this message in the lower right of the screen:
- Close the upload screen to return to File Manager. Click on the Reload (Reload) icon in the menu bar to see the installation file:
Extract the installation file
- The installation file is a packed file in ZIP format. This file must be unpacked to get all folders and files in the right place.
- Right click on the file name. This opens a small context menu:
- Click Extract in the context menu to extract the file.
- You can also select the file and use the Extract icon in the menu bar:
- In the pop-up window, click Extract (Extract File (s)) :
- In Extraction Results pop-up you see the files as they are being extracted. When all files have been extracted, click on the Close button:
- The .zip file is no longer needed and can be deleted (keeping everything tidy is a good habit for a website owner). To do this, right-click on the file name and click on Delete in the context menu. In the Delete pop-up, click on the Delete File (s) button.
- File Manager is now empty. Click on the Reload (Reload) icon in the menu bar to see the files that you have extracted.
Put the WordPress files in the correct folder
All files are now unpacked, only WordPress has put all folders and files in a folder called WordPress. It is possible to do the installation in a separate folder, but generally, you install WordPress in the main directory of the domain.
We must, therefore, ensure that all files and folders from the WordPress folder are moved to the public_html folder. Fortunately, this is very easy to do in File Manager :
- Double click on the blue folder icon on the left next to the WordPress folder name. This opens the folder and shows all folders and files in the folder.
- Click the Select All (Select all) icon in the menu bar. All folders and files are now colored blue as a sign that they have been selected:
- Right-click in the blue area and select Move in the context menu.
- Click on the Move (Move) pop-up in the field below all files. Delete the text / WordPress at the end of the path. The path now becomes / public_html (not in this example).
- Click on the Move File (s) button to move all files and folders to the / public_html folder.
- When the pop-up is closed, folder WordPress is completely empty. Click on the One Level Up (Up One Level) icon in the menu bar to go back to folder /public_html.
- In / public_html are now all folders and files required by the WordPress installation. You just have to remove the empty WordPress folder (work properly, remember?). To do this, click on the folder name, click on the Delete (Delete) icon and click on the Delete File (s) button.
- Now close cPanel and exit your hosting account.
Step 4: Install WordPress
All preparatory work has now been done, and it is time to really install WordPress so that a real site can be built.
Installing and WordPress is really very easy. With the data that you have collected in the preparatory work at hand, you can get through the installation in a minute. Let’s start.
- Go in your browser to the domain name where you just put the software. WordPress sees that the software is in place, but that it has not been configured yet. Apart from the last two data – database host and table prefix – you have just created and written everything down:
- Click on the Let’s start! button.
- In the database screen of the installation we tell WordPress which database with which username should be used for the installation:
- The details you enter here are:
- the full database name, so: account name_database name
- the full username for that database: account_name_username
- the password created for the username
- the name of the server where the database is located. Usually, this is the localhost. If a different server name has to be entered here, the hosting company should give you this. If you cannot find the hostname in the correspondence with the hosting company, you can often find it on their FAQ page.
- All tables in the database start with a prefix: a number of characters that make the tables in the database unique to this database. The default is the wp_ prefix, but hackers know that and sometimes use it. That is why it is wise to change the prefix to something that makes no sense. Always end the prefix with a dash.
- When all information has been entered, click on the Register button.
- WordPress now checks whether the data you have entered is correct and whether a connection to the database can be made.
- If no problems are found, continue with the installation. To do this, click on the Start the installation button.
- In the next screen you enter the latest information that WordPress needs to complete the installation:
- In this screen you must enter the following data:
- Website title: the name of your new website. Don’t worry, the name can always be changed.
- Username: the name that you will use to manage the website. Never use the name admin for this. but come up with something better. Hackers know that admin is used the most, so forsake something else.
- Password: the password that you use in combination with the username to log in to your website. Also here, never use admin. Use a program like LastPass to generate a good, non-guessable password, and save it.
- For verification, enter the password again under the password field.
- Your e-mail address: the e-mail address to which you will receive all e-mails from this WordPress installation.
- Privacy: this setting ensures that search engines can visit your website. If you want to wait until your website is completely ready for your search engines to allow, remove the check mark from the box. You can then adjust this setting later in the administration section of the site when the site is ready for the search engines.
- Now click on the Install WordPress button to start the installation.
- The installation is generally very fast. When everything is ready you will see the WordPress login screen: Here you can log in to your new WordPress site with the username and password that you used during the installation.
now, the site is live!
A bit bald, but live.
Now you can do fun things, such as installing a nice look, selecting plug-ins and of course adding lots of interesting content. Good luck.