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How to Install WordPress

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

So you want a WordPress site?

That’s great. WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (or CMS), and for good reason.

With WordPress, you can get yourself a flexible, scalable, and user-friendly website. The software itself is free, and all you have to pay for is the hosting you’ll put it on.

But before you can start, there is one thing you’ll have to do, and that’s set up WordPress. This puts a lot of people off: they think it’s tricky, or long-winded, or requires writing code.

None of these are true. You have two options for installing WordPress, both of which are designed to be quick and easy. I’ll show you how to do both of them in this guide.

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Options for Installing WordPress

There are two ways of installing WordPress: manually, or with the click of a button.

For most non-techies, the click of a button option is the preferred one. But just in case you prefer the more thorough way, I’m going to help you to do it manually too.

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Automatic Installation

Pros:

  • It’s easy.
  • It works.

Cons:

  • Your hosting provider might add some extra code or plugins, which could cause you problems in the long run or might just annoy you. For most people, this isn’t an issue.
  • A poor hosting provider might not install the latest version of WordPress. A good one will. (Hint: you should only go with a good one.)
  • If your hosting provider doesn’t provide cPanel (or something like it) as part of your package, you might not have access to an auto-installer (which is why this is an important criterion when choosing hosting).

Manual Installation

Pros:

  • You get a clean installation with no extra code or plugins.

Cons:

  • It takes longer.
  • It’s not as easy.
  • Sometimes it doesn’t work properly (although that’s normally due to user error).

For 90% of website owners, the automatic installation is absolutely fine. It’s only if you’re planning to customize the code on your site that you may have issues.

If you fancy trying your hand at manual installation, read through the instructions below and give it a go. But if you prefer an easy life, go with the automatic option.

Installing WordPress With an Auto-Installer

Let’s start with the quick and easy option.

First, you’ll need to access your control panel with your hosting provider. This is normally called cPanel, although some providers give it a name of their own.

If you’re not sure how to get to this, check the email you received when you set up your hosting account. It should contain a link to cPanel. And if that fails, ask your hosting provider to tell you or google ‘access cPanel [my hosting provider]’.

The hosting provider I use is SiteGround. To access cPanel via their client area, I go to My Accounts > Go to cPanel.

You’re then presented with the cPanel screen.

cPanel

At this point, you might panic. So many options! Databases! Joomla! Mail! Security! How on earth do you know where to start?

You only need to find the WordPress auto-installer. Ignore everything else. Just blank it out. Pretend it isn’t there.

You should find a section called Autoinstallers. In that section, you’re looking for an icon with the word WordPress beneath it. If you can’t find that, you’ll need to use Softaculous instead.

Let me start by demonstrating the process with the dedicated WordPress installer.

Installing WordPress With the WordPress Auto-Installer

Click on the WordPress logo. This will take you to a set of screens for installing WordPress.

If the Install tab isn’t already open, click on it.

Now complete the fields as below.

  • Version: Leave this as the default.
  • Protocol: If you have SSL already set up for your site (some providers give you this when you register the domain), select https://. If not or if in doubt, select https://. Note that SSL makes your site more secure and is worth using if possible.
  • Choose Domain: If you have more than one domain registered, choose the one you want to use.
  • In Directory: Leave this blank.
  • Site Name: Enter the name of your site. You can change this later.
  • Site Description: Your tagline. Again, you can change this later.
  • Enable Multisite: Leave this unchecked. Some auto-installers don’t have this: don’t worry if you can’t see it.
  • Admin Username: Type in the username you want to use. Don’t use admin as this isn’t very secure. You can’t change this later, so make sure it’s what you intend to use forever.
  • Admin Password: Type in the password you want to use. Use something different from your username, with a few upper-case letters and numbers for extra security. You want to make it as hard as possible for people to get into your site. You can change your password later via the WordPress admin screens, to make it more secure.
  • Admin Email: Type in the email address you want to use for any emails relating to your site. This isn’t publicly displayed.
  • Select Language: Choose your language.
  • Select Plugins: Leave all of these unchecked. This will only be an option with some hosting providers: don’t worry if it isn’t there.
  • WordPress Starter: Uncheck this. Again, this is specific to some hosting providers and you might not have it.

If there are any other options, just leave them unchecked. And ignore any advanced settings: you don’t need to worry about them.

Once you’ve filled out the fields, click the Install button.

The auto-installer will take some time to set up your new WordPress site, and then you’ll be taken to a screen with details of your new site. There will be a link to the site itself and a link to your dashboard. In the screenshot below, I’ve installed WordPress in a subdirectory.

new site created by auto-installer

Congratulations, you now have a WordPress site!

Installing WordPress With Softaculous

If your cPanel doesn’t have a dedicated WordPress installer, you can use Softaculous instead. Follow these steps:

  • Click on the Softaculous icon in cPanel.
  • From the menu on the left, select WordPress.
  • Click the WordPress icon at the top of the screen.
  • Follow the steps in the previous section.

In fact, the WordPress auto-installer is nothing more than a shortcut to the Softaculous installer. So the process is the same.

Once you’ve done that, you can follow the link to your shiny new site and start getting it ready.

Installing WordPress Manually

Alternatively, you can use the "famous five-minute install" to install WordPress manually.

To install WordPress manually, you’ll need:

  • A web browser.
  • An FTP client. This will let you upload files to the server where your website is hosted. Personally, I use Coda, a code editing application with an FTP client included, but if you just need FTP, you can choose from our list of the top five FTP clients out there.
  • Access to your server to create databases—your hosting provider will likely provide you with a tool called phpMyAdmin to do this. If in doubt, ask them!

Note that you won’t need an FTP client if you’re running WordPress locally—that is if you're running it on your computer instead of on the internet.

To install WordPress, you’ll need to follow three steps:

  1. Create a database on your server.
  2. Download WordPress and copy it to your server.
  3. Run the WordPress installation.

Create a Database

The database will hold all of your site’s content, and without it, WordPress and your WordPress site won’t work. You can create yours in one of two ways, depending on your hosting provider’s setup:

  • via your hosting admin screens
  • using phpMyAdmin

With my hosting provider, I use their admin screens to create a database, so let’s look at that first.

Using Your Hosting Admin to Create a Database

In your hosting admin screens, find an option called databases, SQL databases, or similar. The exact name will vary depending on your provider.

For example, here’s the screen I use:

creating a database

If you’re using a similar admin screen, follow these steps:

  1. Give your database a name and type it in the field.
  2. Click on Create Database.
  3. You’ll then be asked to enter a password for the new user associated with this database. Choose a password, type it in, and click OK.
  4. Make a note of the database name, username, and password. You’ll need these later.

And, that’s it—your database is ready!

Using phpMyAdmin to Create a Database

If your hosting provider gives you phpMyAdmin as part of your package, or you’re using MAMP to install WordPress locally, you can use this to create your database.

In your hosting admin screens or the MAMP welcome screen, click the link to phpMyAdmin, which might look something like this:

phpMyAdmin

The phpMyAdmin welcome screen will open. Click on the Databases tab at the top left to open the databases screen:

phpMyAdmin create database

In the Create Database field, type the name of your database.

Click the Create button.

And with that, your database will be created. Make a note of the database name for later. The username and password will default to root.

Step 1 is done—and that’s the trickiest part. It’s plain sailing from here on in!

Download and Upload WordPress

Now you need to download the latest version of WordPress.

Go to the WordPress download page.

WordPress download page

Click the Download WordPress button to download a zip file containing all of the WordPress files to your computer.

Unzip the file on your computer in exactly the same way you would normally unzip any other file. You’ll now have a folder called wordpress with all of the WordPress files in it. Make a note of where that folder is.

Next, you need to upload WordPress to your server.

Open your FTP client. Sign in to the FTP on your server using the FTP login details your hosting provider gave you when you created your account. If you’re not sure about these, ask them. You’ll need the server address, your username, and the password.

In your FTP client, find the wordpress folder on your local machine and the public_html folder on your server. You should be able to see the two of them side by side. As an example, here’s mine in Coda:

transferring the files via FTP

Note that my folder on the remote server is empty because I’m installing WordPress in a subdirectory. Yours will have other files in there—ignore those.

Now drag the contents of the wordpress folder (not the folder itself) to your public_html folder. Your FTP client will copy the files to your server.

Wait for the files to finish copying. Now you’re ready for the third and final stage: running the WordPress installation.

Run the WordPress Installation

Your database and files are in place, and you’re ready to install WordPress!

Open your browser and go to your website. You’ll see the first WordPress installation screen.

You should have all this information noted down from when you were creating your database. Click Let’s Go!

On the next screen, input your database name, username, and password. If you’re working locally, the username and password will default to root. Otherwise, they’ll be what you specified when you created your database.

Leave the Database Host and Table Prefix fields as they are (note: if in any doubt, ask your host for what to enter as the Database Host, as this can vary between hosting providers—assuming they haven’t already let you know in a previous email when you initially signed up for their services) and click Submit.

Next, you’ll see my favorite screen—the one that tells you WordPress is ready to install. Well done!

run the installation

Note: If you’re in the US, it will say ‘All right sparky!’ I’m in the UK, so it uses the more sedate ‘sunshine’. I prefer ‘sparky’ to be honest.

Click Run the install to access the site details screen.

site details screen

Finally, enter your site details: the site title, your username and password, and email address. If you want Google to find your site, leave the Privacy box checked. Click Install WordPress.

WordPress will be installed, and you’ll see a success screen. Hurray!

Now you can log in to your site by clicking the Log In button and entering the credentials you provided when you were installing WordPress.

This will take you to the WordPress dashboard.

WordPress Dashboard

Congratulations, you’ve successfully installed WordPress and can now start managing your site!

Installing WordPress isn’t as tricky as you may think. By following the advice above, you can get yourself a brand new site with the world’s favorite CMS. Enjoy!

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