WordPress Tutorial 1: Installation & Setup

WordPress is a very popular option for running your web site and can be used to get your content online quickly for the world to see. This guide will walk you through installing the WordPress server software and the initial setup process.

This is part 1 in an ongoing series on WordPress. Please see Part 2: WordPress Tutorial 2: Terminology, Part 3: WordPress Tutorial 3: How to Install a New Plugin, Theme, or Widget and Part 4: WordPress Tutorial 4: Recommended WordPress Plugins. Please note that this guide is primarily intended for customers utilizing a Linux server running cPanel. If you do not have a Linux server with cPanel please see the documentation at wordpress.org for further assistance.


Please note that this guide is primarily intended for customers utilizing a Linux server running cPanel. If you do not have a Linux server with cPanel please see the documentation at wordpress.org for further assistance.

The WordPress Community

WordPress has a large community of users who are quick to help each other whenever possible. WordPress.org is the main web site for downloading the software and it also provides a wealth of documentation (the “codex“), user forums, a plugin directory, and many other useful items.

The guide below is written for WordPress 2.9 and above, which is the current version of WordPress as of this writing (January 2010).

Because the WordPress community is so good at maintaining support documentation it is highly recommended that you also look at their Installing WordPress page. The support documentation at WordPress.org is kept up to date as new versions are released. When in doubt, default to the wordpress.org site and its resources.

If you would like to try out the WordPress user interface in more detail without installing it on your web site you can visit WordPress.com and sign up for a free account. The interface used at wordpress.com when logged in as a user is the same interface used by an installation on your web site.

Installing WordPress with Softaculous

Softaculous offers an extremely quick and easy method of installing WordPress. Simply log in to your cPanel interface and select Softaculous from the list of icons. Once you are in the Softaculous interface, find WordPress in the list of applications and click on it. You will be asked for several pieces of information that are required to set up the software. If you need help answering these questions please continue reading the guide below as these same pieces of information are also required for a manual installation.

Manual Installation

Step 1: Where does the software go on the server?

Before you do anything you need to figure out where WordPress is going to “live” on your server/domain. On a cPanel server most users will have their web site stored in a path similar to /home/user/public_html (where user is the user name of your domain on the server).

If you want WordPress to run the main section of your site (the index, what visitors see if they go to your domain name without specifying a certain page or URL) you will need to install the WordPress files in your public_html directory.

If you want WordPress to run as a subdomain (like blog.domain.com) or a specific page on your domain (like domain.com/blog) you will need to use the cPanel tools to create the necessary subdomain, sub-folder of public_html, and/or redirect. Important Note: If your domain is using Liquid Web’s nameservers for DNS you will need to contact us to finalize the creation of a new subdomain.

To summarize:

  • Install to Main Site – Put files in main directory (similar to /home/user/public_html).
  • Install to Subdomain or Subfolder – Create subdomain and necessary DNS updates and/or create new subfolder for WordPress files.

Step 2: Download the WordPress Software and Upload it to Your Server

Point your web browser at http://wordpress.org/download/ . This page contains links to download the WordPress package in both zip and tar.gz format.

Option 1: Download WordPress and Upload to Your Server

Click on the Download link and save the zip file to your local computer. Make sure you click Save and not Run or Open. Extract the zip file using your favorite archive tool and you will have a folder called wordpress containing all of the server software files.

You will need to upload these files to the server using a FTP/SFTP client, file transfer commands in the shell like scp, or log in to your domain’s cPanel interface and use the built in File Manager.

Do not upload the wordpress folder/directory itself. You will need to upload the contents of the wordpress folder to the correct path (as discussed above in Step 1) on your server.

Option 2: Use SSH and WGET to Download Directly to Your Server

If you have shell access to your server account you can skip the local download and have your server download the package directly from wordpress.org.

Using SSH connect to your server and navigate to the directory where you want to place the wordpress files.

ssh user@host.servername.com
cd /home/user/public_html

Using the WGET command download the latest wordpress package from wordpress.org:

wget http://wordpress.org/latest.zip

Unzip the downloaded package:

unzip latest.zip

You will now have a wordpress directory containing all the files, but you need to move them to the correct location:

cd wordpress

mv * /home/user/public_html
(substitute your desired path for /home/user/public_html above, which you should have from Step 1)

Step 3: Create a Database and Database User for WordPress

The many options available to create a database for WordPress could triple the size of this article if we tried to cover them all here. The WordPress Codex maintains an extensive list of instructions that will show you how to create a database step-by-step. If you have any questions regarding this step you can contact support using the information below.

Step 5: Run the Installation Script

You will now load the installation script in your web browser. If you installed WordPress into the main directory of your web site you will need to visit http://domain.com/wp-admin/install.php. If you installed into a subfolder you will need to visit http://domain.com/foldername/wp-admin/install.php.

If you receive an error about the install script being unable to find or write the wp-config.php file please see the wordpress.org instructions for manual wp-config.php configuration.

You will be asked for several pieces of basic information, including what username and password you would like to use to administrate WordPress on your server. Please note that this admin user and password is not recorded by Liquid Web so you should be sure to write it down and save it securely.

Once you answer all of the installation questions the site is ready to go. Congratulations on completing your WordPress setup!

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