How To Install WordPress Correctly

So you have decided to use WordPress for your website.  Good decision.  It is a great Content Management System (CMS) that scales really well. Now you have to get it installed on your web server.  You have two options for this:

  1. Use the 1-click installers that most web hosts offer.
  2. Do it manually so you can use custom settings.

Let’s explore both of these options

Using a 1-Click Installer

Using a 1-click installed is real easy.  You don’t have to know about web files, configurations or databases.  Just go to your web host’s cPanel and find WordPress.  Click the installer and follow the instructions and your set.

So why would anyone not use a 1-click installer if it is so easy.  Good question.  Because you give up control.  When your web hosts installs WordPress on your behalf, they also make a bunch of decisions for you.  These are the name of the database, the table name prefix, any plugins they want you to have so they call up-sell you.

If you are fine with that go with it.  Sometimes I use the 1-click installer and then just remove any plugins they added in the installation process.

Installing WordPress Manually

If you want to have full control of the installation process, you will need to do it manually.  This is not exactly rocket science, but I would not recommend this unless you feel pretty comfortable with computers.  You are going to need to download the WordPress files, put them on your server via FTP and create the database.

Download the files

First go to to get the files. Remember, there are two versions of WordPress (.com and .org).  This is the .org version, also called self hosted. Read this previous article I wrote about the difference between the versions of WordPress and why you should use the .org version. Once on the site click the blue button to download the latest version.

Download WordPress

Move the files to your server via FTP

The downloaded files come as a ZIP.  Unzip it to expose the files.  Move all the files to your root directory (generally something like public_html for shared hosting plans) using your favorite FTP client.

Create the database

Login to your web hosting and find PHPMyAdmin. This is the graphical interface that controls the MySQL database that you need to run WordPress. Create a new database. I recommend to use something that you can remember but is not too obvious.

Setup the WordPress Install

To do this open your browser and navigate to the domain. You will see an input box with five fields, which are database name, username, password, database host and prefix. The database is the name of the database you setup in the last step. The username is the database user, password is the database password. By default in MySQL these are both set to root.

Install WordPress

Please don’t use these. Create another user that has permissions to INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE. Use a password that is just a random string.  This will help secure your site.Please note that this is different than the WordPress user.  We will do that in a few more steps. This user is the database user that essentially everyone who goes to the site is using, because WordPress is making all the queries of the database. The database host is almost always localhost.

For the prefix use whatever you want followed by a an underscore (xyz_).  In WordPress all tables will use this prefix syntax.  By default it will use wp_.  I recommend using something other than default because hackers know a lot of sites will use wp_.  So by doing this you are adding more security.

Click the submit button.  If you have issues ensure that your database and all credentials were correctly entered. Consult the WordPress codex or your web host if you cannot figure it out.

Run The WordPress Installer

Congratulations, you have successfully installed WordPress manually. Now you just have to add the site title, username (don’t use admin for security reasons), password and email. I initially check discourage search engines from indexing this site, while in development (I will show you to make your site visible when you go live later).

Run WordPress Installer

This is just the first step of creating you new WordPress website. In the next article in this series, I will be giving an overview of the WordPress dashboard.

If you want to really know how to use WordPress contact me to setup some coaching.


WordPress codex

Official WordPress Installation Guide