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Almost all purveyors of shared hosting provide one or more applications by which their clients can install 3rd-party software such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, Magenta, & others. My personal preference, if your hosting provider has it, is a program called Softaculous, because, in my experience, its scripts are always up-to-date, whereas w/other similar programs, I’ve found it necessary to immediately update the site as soon as it was installed, simply due to the fact that the scripts the program offered were outdated. Although I’ll be writing this article using Softaculous, the basic principles will be applicable to other similar programs as well, though the screens will look different. I’ll be covering WordPress, Drupal, & Joomla! in this post, but, again, the principles will be applicable to other installable software.
Because the principles for installing all three content management systems (CMS’s) are basically the same, I’ll discuss those that apply to all of them first, & then talk about any considerations that may differ from one CMS to the next.
The installation screen basically asks a series of questions. When installing Drupal or Joomla, you’re first asked which version to install. WordPress does not request this information, as it expects you to install the latest one.
Next, choose your protocol. If you have an SSL site certificate, choose https. Otherwise, choose http. Because I do have SSL, I chose https.
Now choose the domain where your site should be installed, as well as which directory, if any. If you decide to install your CMS to somewhere other than your web root folder (public_html in the case of Bright Stars Web), the directory should not already exist, & it should not contain a / mark. To install your CMS in your web root folder, simply leave the directory field blank. For this installation, my domain is brightstarsweb.com, & my directory is is the name of the CMS, i.e., WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla, respectively. Because it takes extra work & knowledge to install a CMS to a subfolder such as wordpress, for example, but make it go to yourdomain.com rather than yourdomain.com/wordpress, I recommend leaving the directory field blank unless you have a compelling reason not to do so, e.g., you already have a CMS installed to the root folder but you need to install a 2nd site.
The next set of questions refer to ‘Site Settings’. You’ll be able to change these in your dashboard if you wish, but it’s a good idea to get them correct now if at all possible.
‘Site name’ is the title of your site, i.e., “Welcome to Bright Stars Web Technologies”. It’s what you see in the blue bar at the top of your browser, assuming you’re using Windows w/its default color scheme. Google uses this to get an idea regarding what your site is about. The ‘Site Description’ expands on that title a bit more. Don’t fall into the trap of getting verbose here.
The next group of settings is for your administrative account. Never use the username ‘admin’. In fact, don’t use a username that so much as contains that word, i.e., administrator, etc., are not good choices. & for the sake of all that’s good & right, do not leave the password at ‘pass’, or you’ll be trying to fix a site compromise, likely before you’ve finished building it. Type in an email address that you check often in the ‘Admin Email’ field.
Lastly, choose your language, fill in the email address where you wish to receive installation details, & click the ‘Install’ button, unless you need ‘Advanced Options’, which we’ll explore next.
In this screen, you can enter a database name, which is handy if you want to use an existing database for your site, as may be the case when you’re migrating your site from another server, for example, or because of a site compromise. You can also enter a table prefix. Be sure to match it to the table prefix of your existing database, if any.
Choose the ‘Auto Upgrade’ & backup options that will meet your needs on this screen as well. Click the ‘Install’ button to install your CMS.
Special Notes When Installing WordPress
When installing WordPress, in the ‘Site Settings’ options, you’re asked whether you want your site to be a “multisite” installation. Multisite is a special kind of WordPress blog, like WordPress.com where each person can have their own blog. If you’re not planning to have a site like that, keep the option unchecked.
You also have the option of installing a plugin called Limit Login Attempts (Loginizer). The box is unchecked by default, & you can leave it so if you plan to install a security plugin like Sucuri or Wordfence. If not, though, check the box, as limiting “brute force attacks”, i.e., where your site gets repeatedly hammered by login attempts, is the minimum protection your site should have.
In addition, you have the option to select various themes. Again, this can be changed in the ‘Appearance > Themes’ section of your dashboard, so I’d suggest leaving them unchecked for now, unless you just know you absolutely love one of them.
The dashboard URL in WordPress is the path where you installed WordPress /wp-admin An example would most likely look like http://www.brightstarsweb.com/wp-admin or https://brightstarsweb.com/wp-admin.
Special Notes When Installing Joomla
When installing Joomla, you’ll be asked whether you wish to import content from another Joomla site. If you do have a Joomla site from which you wish to import content, choose the type of content from the list; otherwise, leave the default of ‘None’ selected. The dashboard URL for Joomla is protocol+domain+directory/administrator. An example would be https://brightstarsweb.com/joomla/administrator. In this scenario, https is the protocol, & www.brightstarsweb.com/joomla/administrator is the path. If the directory field was left blank, then it’d look like www.yourdomain.com/administrator.
Special Notes When Installing Drupal
The installation of Drupal is slightly different, if only because it’s not on Softaculous’s main screen. In order to get to it, you’ll need to click on the link that says ‘Portals/CMS’. Once that’s done, the following screen appears.
Once you click the ‘Install’ link, the typical Softaculous installation screen appears.
Unlike all the CMS’s we’ve previously explored, Drupal presents a “cron job” option. Cron is basically a scheduled task. This cron job is set to run at 8:49 PM, i.e., 20 hours is 8 in the evening, 4 hours before midnight. The minute setting says to run it 49 minutes past the hour. It runs every day of every week & every month. Unless you have a compelling reason to do so, there is no need to change it. Some site owners may wish to run the cron job when they feel the site would have less visitors. In such a scenario, remember that 0 hours is midnight, 12:00 represents 12 pm or noon, 13:00 is 1 pm, etc. Thus, if you’d like, change the hour to one where your site receives less traffic, but leave the other values unchanged.
The dashboard URL for drupal is protocol+domain+directory/user/login, i.e., https://brightstarsweb.com/drupal/user/login. If you did not fill in the directory field, then it would be www.yourdomain.com/user/login.