How to Install WordPress
In this workshop, we’ll cover everything you need to know to install WordPress on a server and get your site up and running. Setting up hosting and installing WordPress can feel daunting, but once you know the steps required to see you through, it’s easy!
We’ll cover the very basics, from setting up your hosting account to downloading and installing WordPress on your server. We’ll talk about FTP (File transfer protocol) and SFTP. Then, we’ll show you how to log in to your WordPress instance and teach you how to troubleshoot a few things that could go wrong during setup. Once we’re through that we’ll provide you with some simple exercises you can follow to gain even more experience and confidence with setting up your self-hosted site
- Downloading, installing, and setting up your own self-hosted WordPress site
- Logging into your WordPress site
- How to troubleshoot some common problems with installation to fix them on your own
- What is the importance of your domain name?
- How do you get the WordPress files you use to set up your site?
- What is the install script?
- How do you set your site name?
- What should you do if the WordPress files won’t complete uploading?
Erica Varlese 0:04
Hi, and welcome to this workshop about how to install WordPress. I’m Erica, I’m based in the New York area. I’ve been a WordPress user since about 2009 and recently became a full time contributor to the project earlier this year.
Courtney P.K. 0:17
Hi, I’m Courtney, coming to you from Portland, Oregon in the US. I’ve been a WordPress user since 2004, and a full time contributor to the WordPress open source project since 2016. Hi, there,
Cami Kaos 0:30
I’m Cami. I’m also coming to you from Portland, Oregon in the US. I’ve been a WordPress user for about 15 years and I have been a full time contributor to the WordPress project sponsored by Automattic for the last eight. In this workshop, we’ll go over what you need to set up a WordPress site, how to install it on your own server and a brief intro into some troubleshooting that may help when installing WordPress on your server.
To start, we’ll discuss why you need a domain name and a hosting account. A domain name is what people type into a browser to access your website. For example, YourDomain.com is a domain name. You can purchase the domain name at the same company where you purchase your hosting account.
A hosting account or a server stores the files for your website. When you set up and install WordPress, you are doing it on your server where your hosting account. To use a metaphor, think of the domain name as the address for a house and the hosting account as the house itself. During the installation process. You will need to log in or connect to your hosting account do some things to create a database or upload the WordPress files. WordPress.org offers a list of some hosting providers where you can purchase a domain and a hosting account. Many other hosting companies exist and you’re free to use them. But when you purchase a hosting account, you’ll want to make sure that they support WordPress. For this walkthrough, we will be using Bluehost. You should use whichever host you’re most comfortable with. If you’re not familiar with finding a host or you’re not sure who to go with, you can check out the provided link on the recommended hosts for WordPress.
Once you have hosting set up, you want to download and extract the WordPress installation files. Before you upload WordPress to your server, you must first download it. To do so, go to the WordPress download page and download the latest version of WordPress to your local computer. We’ll include a link in the description below for reference. WordPress will be downloaded as a .zip file. Once the download is complete, select the WordPress folder and extract the files to a location you can easily get to.
Next, we’ll explore how to connect to your server with FTP. FTP or File Transfer Protocol is software that allows you to connect to your hosting account and drag and drop files from your computer and to and from your server. When you upload files to your server, they become visible to people who visit your domain name. For example, we will use this free cross platform FTP software cyberduck. Once you install an open cyberduck Click ‘Open Connection’ and enter the following information to connect to your server: your server which is the domain name for your site, your username and your password. You should have received this information from your hosting company and an initial welcome email.
During the login process, you may receive a message that tells you you are using an unsecure connection and that a secure connection is available. The unsecure method of connecting is called FTP and the secure way is called SFTP. If you see this message, it means that SFTP is available and you should try clicking change in order to use the more secure method of connecting. SFTP is the preferred method of connecting to your server as it protects your credentials when you’re logging in. If you choose to use SFTP, you may need to click Continue to accept the SFTP security certificate. Once you’re connected to your server, you should see a screen that shows the root level files you have access to. With most shared hosting accounts, when you first log in with FTP, you will see a number of folders and one is named public_HTML. Depending on your hosting provider, your public HTML folder may have an alternate name, something like ht docs, go ahead and click into your public HTML or ht docs folder. Anything that goes into this folder will then be accessible on your site. This is where we will install WordPress.
As a note, if when you log in with FTP, you don’t see any public HTML or ht docs folder. It probably means you’re already inside the correct folder and can proceed to the next step, which is uploading your WordPress files. Log into your server using SFTP or FTP and navigate into the folder where you want to install WordPress. If you want to install WordPress in the root of your site, for example, if you want people to go to your domain.com and see your WordPress site, then you’ll upload the files directly into the public HTML folder. However, if you want to install WordPress at your domain.com/test, then you would go into your public HTML folder, create a new folder called test and then navigate into that folder. Once you’ve navigated into the correct folder on your server, select all of the WordPress files and drag and drop them from your computer into the cyberduck window. Make sure you drag and drop the actual files and not just the WordPress folder. It may take a while for all of the files to upload. If the process is interrupted, it’s best to delete the files that had been uploaded and start over from the beginning with an empty public HTML folder. While you wait for your files to upload, you can move on to the next step of installing a database. Erica?
Erica Varlese 6:20
Next, we’ll go into how to set up a database for WordPress. WordPress stores all of its text based content in a database, a tool for storing and organizing information. This means that when you post a page or post, all of the content of that post gets saved into a database. The process to set up a database changes depending on hosting providers. However, most hosts use the software tool known as cPanel for managing the process of setting up databases. If your hosting provider does not have cPanel, you can search their knowledge base for how to create a database. For example, our example site using Bluehost, we log in, and then click on hosting and cPanel.
To set up a database, login to your cPanel hosting control panel and search for and click on MySQL DB wizard. The first step of the setup process involves naming your database, You can choose your own short name with no spaces. However, for this example, we’re going to use WP to designate that the database is for WordPress. So although we only enter in WP, the actual database name is going to be wordprz4_wp. Make sure to write down the database name because you will need it later. Next, you will be prompted to create a username. For our example, we’re going to use WP user. However, you can select your own username. Note again that the final username will be the unique username for the server plus the database username you create. So in our example, the final database username is wordprz4_wpuser, not just WP user. cPanel offers a strong password generator, which will auto generate a strong password. If you decide to make your own password, be sure it’s strong. If you choose a password with a low strength, hackers will easily be able to guess your password, compromising your database and potentially your site. Make sure to record the password somewhere because you will need it when going through the install script. In the final step, you grant the user access to the database. Click the checkbox for all privileges. And then next step you should now have the following your database name, your database username, your database password, and granted user privileges to the database. Now that we have our WordPress files uploaded to the server and our database setup, we can move on to the last step of the installation process walking through the install script.
The WordPress install script is a series of pages where you select and set options for configuring WordPress. Once you have your files uploaded and database created, you can access the install script by using your browser to go to the URL where you have the WordPress files uploaded. In our example case, that is WordPresshostingexample.com This will redirect you to the install page. First, select your language and click Continue. Next, you’re presented with a screen asking for your database information. You should have all of these values from the previous steps, so enter the information and click on the LET’S GO button to move forward. First, enter the database name, username and password we created earlier. The database host will likely be localhost and you can leave this value. The table prefix is something that you will want to change for security reasons. Make up something three to six characters followed by an underscore. For our demo, we chose myexm_ as the table prefix. Once you have the form complete, click on Submit. It should take you to a screen that says it was able to connect to your database and is ready to run the rest of the install. Here, click on ‘run the install’. In the final step, you enter in information about the WordPress site itself. Here, you can set the title for the site, which you can change later if needed. You will also choose a username and password to use to log into your WordPress site. This should be different information from your database username and password. Also, make sure to enter in the correct email address. WordPress will use this for password resets and site notifications. The Privacy checkbox adds the code to your site, like a robots.txt file that gives search engines instructions on whether or not to index content from your site. While building a site, you should uncheck this. When you finish setting up your site and it’s ready for the general public, you can update this setting under Settings reading search engine visibility. Note that unchecking this box will not make your site private or prevent people from visiting. It only requests that search engines do not visit the site. However as WordPress points out, it is up to search engines to honor this request. After completing the form, click Install WordPress, and you should see a final screen telling you WordPress is installed. You’ll also see your username and a link to login.
Courtney P.K. 12:48
To login to your WordPress site, you simply type in the URL for your site and add WP-admin to the end. This will lead you to a page where you can enter your username and password as well as receive instructions for resetting your password. If a WordPress site has registration enabled, you will also see a link to register on this page. If you’d like to learn more about logging in, you can see our workshop of the dashboard overview which we’ll share a link to in this workshops resources.
When installing WordPress, you may come across some of the following problems. If you have trouble connecting with the FTP client that there are a couple of steps that you can take. Try copying and pasting your login information into the FTP software client instead of typing it. You may also try typing instead of copying and pasting. You can check to make sure that you can access your domain name from the browser. If you cannot visit your domain name in the browser, and you purchased your domain name and hosting from different companies, you may need to update something called your DNS. Try contacting the domain name registrar or hosting provider for help if this is the case. You can also check your ports. If you choose to use FTP, you will likely need to enter in a different value in the port field. Your hosting provider can tell you if this is the case. In general, if you have trouble with FTP, your hosting company should be able to help you resolve the problem. If your files don’t finish uploading, the WordPress files can take a long time to upload, and you run the risk of something interrupting the upload process. If this happened, it is best to delete all the files uploaded and start the process over. Make sure however not to delete your actual public HTML folder, as that will break your hosting account.
During the database portion of the install script, you may see the error message above that tells you WordPress was unable to connect you to your database. Please try the following steps if this happens. Double check your database name, username and password. If you forgot any of that information, login to cPanel and click on MySQL databases. On this page, you can see the names of your database and username as well as the ability to reset the password. Ask if your host uses localhost as the database host value. If none of this works, try deleting the database and walk through the MySQL database wizard again.
Sometimes people get a white screen of death when they try installing WordPress. This error shows itself as a pure white screen when you go to visit your site and login. You can try searching for WordPress white screen of death after install for a number of articles and support forum threads that address this topic. However, a common solution can be found by simply deleting the WordPress files, setting up a new database , and starting the install process over again.
Here are some exercises you can do to reinforce the skills needed to install WordPress. Practice using FTP software. This exercise helps you practice logging into your server and uploading and deleting files. Use FTP software to log into your server. Then try creating a new folder called ‘test’ and uploading files to this folder. Practice deleting the files and folders once you have finished uploading them. Practice setting up databases. This exercise helps you practice the creation and deletion of databases. Practice setting up another database in user in cPanel. Then, find the main MySQL databases page in cPanel, and try deleting the database and user, installing WordPress in a different folder. Sometimes you’ll have to install WordPress inside of a subfolder inside of your main public HTML folder. This exercise helps you practice that process. Create a new folder inside of your public HTML folder named a test or something similar, and try installing WordPress inside of this folder. Deleting a WordPress site, create a new folder inside of your public HTML folder named a test or something similar. Try installing WordPress inside of this folder, and when you’re done, delete the site.
Erica Varlese 18:18
Thank you for joining us for this workshop. Hopefully this helps you get started with your own WordPress install.
Courtney P.K. 18:24
To learn more about getting started with WordPress, please check out the other workshops in the course that’s called start publishing with WordPress.
Cami Kaos 18:32
And if you want to talk with others who have taken this workshop, check out the listing of upcoming discussion groups on learn.wordpress.org. Thanks again for joining us.
I am a Community Wrangler sponsored by Automattic and based in the New York area. I spend most of my time contributing to the Polyglots, Community, and Training teams. My WordPress journey began about 10 years ago, when I started my blog while working as a freelance writer. In my offline life, I love travel, coffee, dogs, and learning languages.
Courtney has been an avid WP user since 2004. She has been a community organizer for the WordPress open source project as part of Automattic’s Five for the Future since 2016. She loves to figure out which dish to cook and which cocktail to mix for you. Courtney currently resides in Portland, Oregon, with her spouse and two rascally kittens.
Cami lives in the splendid city of Portland, Oregon with her daughter, partner, very loud cat, and far too many houseplants. She’s had a love of WordPress and WordCamps since the last century, when she happened to stumble upon the first WordCamp Portland. Since 2013, she has worked at Automattic, as a community organizer for the WordPress open source project. In that role, she gets to work with WordCamps and their organizers from around the world, every day. She continues to write on an irregular basis at camikaos.com where she explores concepts from the plight of modern parents to mental health to marveling at the seemingly mundane. Cami is active on a number of social platforms but can be most readily found as @camikaos on Twitter.