Here it is! Finally! How to install WordPress. Our last post was about updating DNS settings.
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Finally! We come to the place where Zip the Sloth finally gets up from his nap and decides to install WordPress! How exciting! Yawn! The good news is that we can, after this, he can get on with the (sometimes) fun part of creating his blog.
We’re going to show him two ways how to do it. Sloth, of course, will be doing it the easy way using the automatic installer from his cPanel account. But we’re also going to go over how to do a manual install of WordPress, which is how we used to do it “back in my day.” I haven’t had to do a manual install for a while, but some cases exist where you still might want to.
I’ve tried to create a video tutorial here for the video-centric, but for those of you like me who still like written tutorials and like to surface read and skim content for just what you want, skim on:
How to Install WordPress the
Lazy Easy Way
Doing a so-called “one-click” WordPress install isn’t truly lazy. It requires WAY more than one click, so check “daily exercise” off your to-do list! Except for the rare case (like wanting to write a video tutorial), I always automatically install WordPress. This tutorial goes over how to install WordPress from a cPanel account. Your setup may look a bit different. Most hosting providers offer some sort of automatic WordPress installer; in most cases, it’s via cPanel and looks pretty much like the method described here. If you have managed WordPress hosting, it may be even more straightforward, but it will look different than this.
Before You Install WordPress
Before Zip installs WordPress, he should find out a few things:
- What is his PHP Version? WordPress.org recommends at least PHP 7.3. You can ask your hosting provider about this, or you can find it somewhere in your account. If you’re using cPanel, you’ll see an icon that says “PHP Version Manager,” where you can view and configure which version of PHP you’re using.
- WordPress.org also says they recommend “MySQL version 5.6 OR MariaDB version 10.1 or greater,” and We also recommend either Apache or Nginx for your server. If you’re going with any web hosting provider that serves the needs of WordPress users, they will have the recommended setup available. I’ve never seen one using MariaDB.
How to Install WordPress from cPanel
But we’re in cPanel, which is the most common setup you’ll have. And our cPanel account has something called “Softaculous” which will automatically install a selection of scripts. Your cPanel may look a bit different and have an icon saying “install WordPress,” or something like that. But, overall, the installation will be pretty much the same as what I describe here.
Time needed: 5 minutes.
How to Install WordPress automatically from cPanel
- Log into your cPanel account and find your script installer
In our example, our cPanel has something called “Softaculous,” yours might have an icon that, simply, says, “Install WordPress.” Click on that to launch the WordPress installer.
- Choose WordPress
If, as we do, you have Softaculous, you might need to click again to choose WordPress from the buffet of scripts it can install, and then “install now” to get to the installer finally.
Don’t let yourself get distracted by the buffet of all the other enticing scripts that you might see offered here. You can explore those some other time.
- Choose the WordPress version you want to install.
Choose the most up to date version!!!
- Choose your installation URL
You have some choices to make here. If you have an SSL certificate installed, choose https://. I recommend having SSL. However, as we’re going to get to that in another tutorial, we’re going to use http://.
You also need to decide if you want your site accessed from the www or non-www.
Then, of course, you’re entering your domain name.
After that, there’s the option to put a subdirectory. Why would you want to install WordPress into a subdirectory? Maybe your business has a website already that you want to keep as-is, but you want to add WordPress for a blog section so that you would install WordPress into something like https://www.yourdomain.com/blog/.
- Enter a site name and a site description.
Enter whatever you want to call your blog and a snazzy subtitle or catchphrase. Remember, you can easily come back and change it later. If there’s a multisite checkbox there, leave it unchecked unless you know what you’re doing (and, as this is a beginning tutorial, we’ll assume you are not going for multisite.)
- Enter an admin username.
Enter what you want the admin username to be. You might find your installer is trying to give you some strange username. You can change it to whatever you want.
However, don’t use “admin.” “Admin” was always the default admin username in WordPress, and to keep it as such was to say to hackers, “come right in!
- Enter an admin password.
Again, choose a strong password. Never “admin” or “password.”
- Choose your language.
I’m sure you know what that is. If you want a challenge, choose a language you’re learning (but I don’t recommend it unless you’re fluent enough.)
- Select plugins (or rather, don’t — you can choose later)
Wow, we haven’t come to plugins yet in this tutorial. Many WordPress installers will give you the option to pre-install some plugins. To this, I usually just say no. You can come back and choose the plugins you want later after you’ve installed WordPress.
Likewise, with “WordPress starter.” If you have something like that, it will pre-install some plugins and may change the look of your dashboard. I also just say no to this!
You might also see the option to use the “classic editor.” That’s “old school” WordPress, meaning about two years ago. Choosing the classic editor disables the newer “Gutenberg” block editor and gives you the old WordPress editor.
I hated the block editor at first! But now, it’s the way WordPress is now; the focus of WordPress now is on the block editor, and I surprise myself to say I’ve finally come to not only making peace with it but even like it (most of the time.) So I’d also “just say no” to the classic editor.
- Configure the advanced options if you want to.
You don’t need to do anything here unless you want to specify a particular database name or prefix for your database tables. Do nothing, and it will choose one for you.
- Click “install” and have patience.
Let it do its thing and let it run until it tells you the installation is complete.
- Navigate to your website and check it out.
Go to your URL, and see how your new WordPress site looks. Pretty plain, huh? But it still feels good to have accomplished something.
While we’ll be coming back to tour our WordPress dashboard later, if you want to log in now, you can use the username and password you set up during installation. You will be able to log in at yourdomain.com/wp-admin/.
Bask in the glory of having successfully installed WordPress and maybe take a nap. That was the easy part. The joy and heartache of using WordPress are yet to come!
So, finally, Slothverse.com is more than a coming soon page. Should Zip have a coming soon page, though, until he gets his website customized? Yes, probably. That’s something for a tutorial soon. Since we’re making this website as a tutorial project, we’re not going to keep one up, but we will go over it.
But what if I want to install WordPress manually?
I cannot think of too many reasons a new WordPress user would need to do a manual installation. I used to years ago, but now I rarely do. You might need to if you were installing it locally, maybe. Or if, for some reason, you had a hosting provider without an option for automatic installation.
I’ve also heard people voice the concern that automatic installations come “with extra stuff.” In most cases, this “extra stuff” involves plugins that I could choose whether to install — so, no problem. If you’re with Siteground, you’ll find that you have SG Optimizer on your WordPress website. If, for some reason, you don’t want it, you can easily remove it.
Sometimes this “extra stuff” is required by the hosting provider. WP Engine, for instance, has its own set of must-use plugins on all of their websites both for optimization and for support. Also, apparently, to alert them if you’re using any of the plugins they have banned to keep their servers running smoothly. At WP Engine, you can’t do as manual install as described here.
Installing WordPress The Hard Way (Manually)
…and it’s not actually all that hard.
1. Download the WordPress Files from WordPress.org
Navigate to https://www.wordpress.org/download/ and download the WordPress Files. Because there are MANY files, all zipped up nicely for Zip.
2. Unzip the WordPress files
Go to the directory where you saved the package of WordPress files, and unzip it, keeping track of where you saved all of the files.
3. Use FTP to Upload the Files to Your Directory
OK, here’s where I didn’t (yet) write a tutorial. As the File Manager in cPanel will only let you upload file-by-file, you’re going to want to upload these files to your server using FTP. I use FileZilla these days; it’s free. Download the FileZilla client.
While I’m planning on adding a tutorial here for FileZilla at some point, it’s not up yet. If you’re not sure how to connect with it, you can find your FTP login in your cPanel account under FTP, and Siteground offers an excellent basic tutorial for FileZilla here.
Once you’ve logged into FileZilla you can select all of the unzipped WordPress files and drag them all into the directory where you want to install WordPress. For the root directory, this will probably be under public_html. However, if, for some reason, you want to install WordPress in a subdirectory like /blog/ you can create a directory and upload all the files there. In this case, as we already have installed WordPress in our root domain and are just doing this one for practice, we’re installing into a subdirectory called /fakeblog/.
4. Create a MySQL Database
In cPanel, you can go to My SQL Databases.
From there, you can configure a new database:
- Create a new database user by entering the username and clicking “create database.”
- Create a new user for the database by entering the username and password you want.
- Take note of the database name and username.
After you’ve created the database and user, you need to assign your new user to the database. You’ll see where you can do that.
Choose the new database and user you created and click “add.” You’ll then get to assign privileges to your new database user. They are very privileged and need to be to have admin access. Give them all. And, of course, click “make changes.”
Then go back to your cPanel home and navigate to PHPMyAdmin. As an aside, I don’t know why…maybe it’s the “My” part, but whenever I see that I think of a sock monkey my daughter had as a child who got the unfortunate name of “MochaJoJoBoogieMyMonkey#2.”
Anyway, you’ll find that just a couple of icons next door to MySQL databases. Click on that. From here, you can see your new database and tables on the side. In my photo, you can’t as I took it later after I deleted this practice database.
But what you’ll want to take note of is your host name at the top. Usually it’s localhost. And that’s the case here.
5. Navigate to Your Website (the directory where you installed the WordPress files)
OK, finally, the exciting part — installing WordPress! Get in your favorite web browser (I like Chrome for its dev tools) and navigate to your domain — the one where you uploaded your files. In most cases, this will be the root domain without any folder such as /blog/. In this example, since we’d already installed WordPress automatically into the root domain, we’ve put all those files into a directory called /fakeblog/ and would navigate to https://www.slothverse.com/fakeblog/. Where, of course, the domain name is your own in your case!
That will start the WordPress installer and you can just follow along! You will be prompted for:
- Your language. Enter it and click “continue.”
- A reminder of all the stuff you’ll need in the next steps. Take note and click, “Let’s Go.”
- In the next step, you’ll need to enter: the database name you just created and the username and password of the database user you just created, the database host (remember, localhost, or whatever yours was?). You’ll also see a prompt to enter a database table prefix. This prefix will be before the names the installer creates in your database. So if you just enter wp_ one of the many tables created will be wp_posts. You can enter something different than wp_ if you’d like, but do the underscore. Click submit.
- On the next page, click “run the installation,” if it tells you it can communicate with the database. If not, go back and recheck the information you entered. Then wait while it installs.
- If everything went right there (and it should have), you’ll get to the “Welcome” screen with many more form fields to fill. Fill in: your site title (it can be changed later), a username (again, NOT “admin,”) a secure password, your email, and you’ll see a checkbox asking if you want to discourage search engines. I usually check this while I’m creating a new website — just don’t forget to uncheck it later so that those Googlebot can come a-crawlin’. Click “Install WordPress.
- AHA! Finally, you get a page saying Success! with your username and a reminder that your password is the one you chose. Click “Log in” and you’ll be taken to the login page.
But we’ll save logging in for next time.
Again, bask in your fresh new WordPress install, full of possibilities: the possibility of expressing yourself, the chance of perhaps making money, and maybe the possibility of spending endless frustrating hours trying to optimize your website.
So, Zip, You’re Completed WordPress Installation? What’s Next?
So Zip is done installing WordPress and is ready for a nap. Or to go on to work on his WordPress site when he’s ready. So, what’s next?
Because we’re creating this website publicly, we’re not going to bother to put up a “Coming Soon” page. But you might want to so prying eyes won’t see your beautiful website until it truly is beautiful (or at least whatever it’s going to be.)
So our next two tutorials are going to cover:
- Adding a Coming Soon page to your site. And we’ll be using a plugin to do that, so it will be an excellent time to cover the topic of “What is a plugin?”
- After that, we’ll be taking a tour of the WordPress dashboard and going over settings you’ll want to change. This step two is likely to be much more than one step and taken in smaller sloth-attention-byte-sized posts.
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