WordPress Installation : What to Expect

WordPress is a powerful blogging platform that can be modified in countless ways, either with off the shelf solutions or with custom programming.  Before all that customization can take place, or indeed any blogging can occur, one has to get WordPress up and running.  If the idea of setting up WordPress sounds intimidating then go ahead and take a short break and count to ten while remembering to breathe in and breathe out regularly and repeat the following mantra: there are many easy ways to install WordPress, but WordPress does not have to be hard to install.  With that being said, there are basically two routes to seriously consider: the five minute install and installation via the incredibly useful and time saving Fantastico, which is essentially an automated install process for popular software packages.

what-to-expect

New Bloggers and Non-Gear Heads Should be Wary of the 5 Minute Install

In all honesty, the five minute install that many refer to as ‘famous’ around the web certainly works, but it may not be for everyone.  To wit, installing WordPress via Fantastico in a typical cPanel-based hosting solution is almost always going to be a much more time effective solution unless one has very specific reasons for going down the FTP route.  Gathering all the information required to establish an FTP connection, downloading an FTP client, and learning the basics of FTP together can take a lot more than 5 minutes.

The times when the 5 minute install is a good idea would probably be those in which the very latest WordPress release is unavailable via Fantastico.  This happens from time to time, but the difference between one version and the next can sometimes be substantial and other times may only resolve minor issues with add-on modules that most site operators will never even hear of.

Taking the Fantastic(o) Journey

cpanel fantastico

cPanel with Fantastico

To get the ball rolling with Fantastico is surprisingly easy, and it typically involves only four steps.  The first step is to log in to the cPanel for the hosting account, and the login information is typically provided in some sort of a welcome e-mail.  Failing that, www.yoursite.com/cpanel is usually a great way to access the cPanel of any given site, but a username and password are still required.  Again, the username and password are often included in a welcome e-mail sent by the hosting company.  Step two involves locating the Fantastico option, which is usually prominently displayed and usually comes in the form of a blue smiley-faced icon.

Once Fantastico is launched, which is usually very quick, simply click on the WordPress option on the menu.  The menu is typically located on the left, and is conveniently broken down in many categories for different needs.  Once the Fantasico WordPress option is selected, information about the WordPress offerings are usually offered in another pane including an option to install WordPress and the version that is currently offered.  This version is not always the latest version of WordPress, but it is rarely out of date with most top tier hosts.

Fantastico's WordPress Page

Fantastico's WordPress Page

From here a guided menu system will ask all of the pertinent questions, which are all really quite simple.  That’s really all there is to it: log in, click the Fantastico icon, select WordPress and install.  The entire process can take less than a minute, and the site is usually available immediately as long as there are no outstanding DNS issues that are common when one first registers a site.  In that case, the site will typically be available in 24 to 72 hours, but good hosts will show customers how to access their site in the interim period so that they can get to work right away.

The 5-minute FTP Option

MySQL page on cPanel

MySQL page on cPanel

Again, it is worth stressing that the FTP route may not be worth investigating if Fantastico is an option.  If Fantastico is unavailable, then FTP may be the next best option.  Before using the FTP, one will typically have to create a MySQL database and user with access/modify privileges to that database.  This step is usually handled via cPanel’s integrated MySQL management system.  The database name as well as the database user ID and password will be necessary for the next step: editing the wp-config-sample.php file.  This file is well remarked and tells users exactly what to do, but it may not be as intuitive as every aspiring blogger would like.  There is an additional step that needs to be done online before saving and renaming the file to wp-config.php, however, and that step is getting a set of secret keys.  Keys can be randomly generated by the WordPress secret key generator, and the number of secret keys required continues to increase.  As of WordPress version 2.7, the required number of keys is four, but that number is likely to increase over time for security reasons.  Once all the information is entered, make sure to use the ‘save as’ feature to ensure that the file is now referred to as wp-config.php.

The entire WordPress folder needs to be uploaded to the correct site with an FTP program.  This process is usually very simple for those who know what they are doing and have all the information that they need handy.  Once the upload is complete, the site should be ready for immediate use.

Cheat Sheet : What You’ll Need to Know if You Use the Five Minute Install Method

  • A reliable FTP program
  • Hosting information (user name, password, port, and any other relevant data)
  • A copy of the latest version of WordPress on a local drive or network storage device
  • A few minutes of free time and perhaps a little patience to troubleshoot basic hosting problems
  • Your desired website address, name, and a user name and password to be used by WordPress
  • A basic text editor, which most operating systems come with

Cheat Sheet: What You’ll Need to Know if You Use Fantastico

  • Your cPanel login information (username/password)
  • Your desired website address, name, and a user name and password to be used by WordPress

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Written by Nick Reese

Nick Reese is a multi-passionate entrepreneur who believes anyone can transform their business and life they they've got guts and hustle. He's also the co-founder of Broadband Now which aims to simplify the broadband shopping process.

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