Hosting and Installing WordPress. Setting the right foundation for wordpress-based membership site.

Where to host?

Which hosting service provider to choose?

After trying handful of hosting providers over the years I gradually moving my sites and blogs to Hostgator. I spent quite a long time hosting with plethora of overpriced providers ending with 1and1 in 2002. While they (1&1) do receive their share of online flames they were doing rather ok for my needs.
Last year I discovered and was actually impressed by the performance of websites hosted off hostgator‘s simple shared account. I signed up with them and on quite a few occasions was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their tech support. These guys are really willing to take extra steps to solve your issues.  And also have to admit that 80% of my blames to them were actually ended up being caused by either my own actions or crippled environments I was working from.
Also little known fact – Hostgator offers dedicated IP address for only $2/mo. Having dedicated IP address (note – not the same as dedicated server) allows you to run your site and feel safe that no spammers or porn is sharing same IP  with you. Also this is good way to hide your online business project locations from spies and nosy competitors who are always sniffing for opportunities.
Hostgator also offers “reseller” accounts where you can become you own “little hosting” provider for your clients.

Anyways – if you are looking for hosting provider – you got a choice to consider.
I also strongly recommend choosing hosting provider that offers SSH (secure shell) access with SVN available. Having SSH access gives you capability to upload and download files to your website securely.
SVN(subversion version control system) gives you capability to install and upgrade WordPress in seconds instead of going through painstaking FTP based multi-step procedures. Installing and upgrading wordpress using SSH+SVN is easy, fast, secure and quick. I no longer use FTP for these purposes.

Installing WordPress. The Right Way.

I presume that you’ve already opened an account with your hosting provider. Normally you install WordPress in either of 3 ways:

  1. Using hoster’s control panel (usually Fantastico app panel). This does it all for you, but I never used it as I wanted to make sure I know what goes where and how. Fantastico is for whimps.
  2. Using FTP download. Get files to your local computer, extract and then copy them to remote. Takes long time and too many steps. For unaware webmasters. Here are instructions if word “ftp” feels warm for you: Install wordpress using FTP.
  3. Using SSH/SVN. For cool geeky-ish webmasters. Da best.

I strongly suggest using the latter method as it is fastest, most secure and allows easy upgrade of wordpress installs down the road in the most straightforward fashion. And hence i’ll describe it in a bit more details.
First you will need to create MySQL database for your wordpress + user account (with username/password access to database). Hostgator’s and any other standard Cpanel is perfectly suitable for this need. 1and1‘s panel is clunky, slow, old, non-standard and sucks – and that is one of the reason I am moving away from them gradually. Although it definitely does it too.
After creating database and user account we proceed with actual WordPress install and configuration.

So here we proceeding with SSH/SVN sequence:
If you run Windows locally (like I do) I suggest using PUTTY – SSH client for windows. Download and install putty.
Run Putty and connect it to your hoster’s IP address, port (Hostgator usually gives you port 2222 for shell) type your userid and password.
Once logged in – get into the root folder of your website. If you are hosting with Hostgator – it is most likely ‘public_html’:

 $ cd public_html

Once there – issue a command to retrieve the latest stable version of WordPress.
NOTE: For exact command syntax please refer to this page under “New Install” subsection as you will need to adjust actual command syntax for the most recent stable version number:

 $ svn co http://svn.automattic.com/wordpress/tags/2.7 .

It will normally take just a few seconds to download the complete set of WordPress files.
Once done – rename wp-config-sample.php to wp-config.php:

 $ mv wp-config-sample.php wp-config.php

After that edit wp-config.php file and include your database and user’s parameters into it. I really think WordPress could make this step a bit more user friendly for beginners, just like other mature CMS-es do.
Use ‘nano’ – a little kinda user-friendly editor for mortals. If you’re immortal with long beard – ‘vi’ editor is an option too. ‘vi’ is not recommended for mortals as it drives people to suicides after realizing that doing very simple things (like moving cursor or deleting 1 character) actually requires memorizing violently long and convoluted sequences of obscure combinations of unintuitive buttons.

 $ nano wp-config.php

Insert proper names for database, username and password that you’ve created previously:
…….
define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘your_db_name‘);

/** MySQL database username */
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘your_db_user_name‘);

/** MySQL database password */
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘PassW0rd‘);

/** MySQL hostname */
define(‘DB_HOST’, ‘localhost‘);

…….

Save (Ctrl+O, [Enter]) and exit (Ctrl+X).

You’re almost ready.
Launch your browser and navigate to your website:
http://www.your-domain.com/
WordPress will guide you through few initial steps installing and configuring your blog and your ‘admin’ account and giving you obscure looking password.
For the very first step I suggest to login with your admin account to control panel and change your main admin’s account password.
Go ahead, login and at dashboard go to:
Users->”admin” and change password to something more meaningful for you.

You are done with initial install and configuration of your WordPress!

Few notes about upgrading WordPress and old-style installs of WordPress.

WordPress is constantly improving, new releases and bug fixes are happening every so often.
When your wordpress blog is installed using SVN method the upgrades are one-line easy.
When you need to upgrade WordPress just do this:

  1. Login to your website using SSH / Putty as described above.
  2. Enter into the root directory of your domain.
  3. Issue this command:
    $ svn sw http://svn.automattic.com/wordpress/tags/2.7/ .

    Please note that version number will need to be adjusted to the most recent – always refer to this WordPress Upgrade Instructions page for the exact version.

  4. Access this page from your browser:

    http://www.your-domain.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php

  5. Done!

If you have WordPress-based portal that has been installed using traditional FTP methods it would be a good idea to “convert” it to SVN-type install to make your life easier to do further WordPress upgrades down the road. This procedure described quite well in details at WordPress site here.
Just follow steps to Converting a “Traditional” WordPress Blog to a Subversion Checkout.

Congratulations, you got solid foundation to built on!


9 thoughts on “Hosting and Installing WordPress. Setting the right foundation for wordpress-based membership site.

  1. I use Hostgator. I would like to say their customer support is excellent. This is very useful for a newbie. I had three times they answered me in one single day.

    Regarding upgrading, do you have any suggestion for upgrading from wordpress 2.7 to wordpress 2.7.1?

  2. “Копирайтер из Вас не вышел бы, но философ ушь точно получился”
    A shto moi article tak pohoj na philosofskii?

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