How to use WordPress with cPanel

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They go together like salt and pepper

You’ve obtained a gem of a domain name and registered for first-rate hosting, but how do you get from there to a published WordPress website? That’s when it might be time to look at WordPress on cPanel.

Although WordPress can be incredibly easy to get up and running, it’s still not going to install and manage itself — unless you’re using a managed solution like GoDaddy’s WordPress Hosting.

Otherwise, you’ll need to understand how to install WordPress on cPanel and take advantage of the power cPanel puts at your fingertips.
Don’t worry, though. cPanel was created to make your life as a website manager really, really easy.

How to use WordPress with cPanel

Here’s what we’ve going to cover in this guide:

Let’s get going!

What is cPanel?

cPanel is a graphical, web-based interface for managing web servers. It exists so that you don’t have to know command-line geekspeak or have access to a bunch of Linux utilities.

Many web hosts use cPanel to help users manage their hosting accounts.

 

It looks similar to this:

cPanel Interface

 

cPanel is particularly useful for managing WordPress websites.

Useful cPanel WordPress things you can do include:

  • Install WordPress using the automated installer
  • Install WordPress manually
  • Troubleshoot WordPress or server issues
  • View and manage the files and functionality that make up your website

We’ll go over each of these in detail.

Editor’s note: Try GoDaddy Business Web Hosting. It’s the best of both worlds — the amped-up power of a Virtual Private Server, but with the easy-to-use cPanel dashboard.

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How to access cPanel

Before you can leverage the power placed in your hands by putting WordPress on cPanel, you need to find the app!

There are three main ways to get there:

  • Dig up that welcome email from your hosting provider — there’s probably a direct link inside.
  • You can also go there directly in your browser by typing in the appropriate URL:
    • For http sites, append :2082 to the end of your domain. For example: http://mydomain.com:2082
    • For https sites, append :2083 to the end of your domain. For example: https://mydomain.com:2083
  • Some hosting providers set up an alias: https://mydomain.com/cpanel

If you’re a GoDaddy client, you can access cPanel directly from your GoDaddy account. To find it, log in to your GoDaddy account and scroll to the Web Hosting section.

From there, click Manage alongside your hosting plan, like this:

GoDaddy WordPress Cpanel Access

On the next screen you’ll find a button that will take you straight to cPanel:

GoDaddy WordPress Cpanel Admin

For any of these methods (other than linking from your GoDaddy account), you’ll need to know your cPanel username and password. These will be included in the welcome email from your hosting provider. If you can’t find that, contact your provider for help.

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Auto-installing WordPress with cPanel

Most hosting services, including GoDaddy, make the WordPress installer available through your cPanel dashboard. These are the steps to an easy install:

  1. Log in to cPanel.
  2. Launch the installer.
  3. Confirm the installation.
  4. Adjust default settings.
  5. Complete the installation.

Let’s get started so you can focus on what’s most important: publishing great content!

1. Log in to cPanel

Use one of the methods described above to log in to cPanel with your username and password.

2. Launch the installer

Once you reach the cPanel admin screen, scroll down to the Web Applications section of cPanel Admin and click WordPress to start the installer.

WordPress Cpanel Confirm

3. Confirm the installation

When the WordPress installer opens, it will display information about the WordPress version you are installing. Click Install this application to continue.

WordPress Cpanel Installatron

4. Adjust default settings

Review the information on the screen that pops up. You can leave many of these things set to the defaults. Key items to check:

  • If you have more than one domain on your account, take care to select the one where you want to install WordPress.
  • To install WordPress in the root of your site, ensure the directory field is blank:

WordPress Cpanel Location

  • In the settings section, choose an administrator name and password you can remember or write down the one provided. The default given will be secure but impossible to remember.
  • Set an administrator email to receive system notifications.
  • Enter a title and tagline for your website.

WordPress Cpanel Settings

The rest of the settings can be left to their defaults, though it’s a good idea to scroll through and confirm that these are the settings you prefer.

5. Complete the installation

When you’re satisfied with the setting selections, click Install, which is located at the bottom right of the screen.

The installation process will launch. When complete, you’ll see a screen listing the details of your newly created WordPress on cPanel installation, including a link to the WP Admin dashboard so you can get directly to work adding content to your site.

Installatron WordPress Cpanel Content

 

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Manually installing WordPress with cPanel

If you don’t have a handy-dandy installer available to you or choose not to use it, you can install WordPress manually. To do this requires a few more steps, but it’s still quite manageable.

  1. Get WordPress.
  2. Upload the files.
  3. Create MySQL database and user.
  4. Go to your domain to complete the install.

If you’re a little more technically minded and don’t mind moving some files around, this might be the method for you. Let’s dig in.

1. Get WordPress

Obtain a copy of the latest WordPress version and place it on your desktop.

2. Upload the files

Upload the files to your server using cPanel File Manager or an FTP program such as FileZilla.

Uploading via cPanel File Manager:

WordPress Cpanel File Manager

File Manager is available through your cPanel Admin Screen.

This short video explains how to upload the zipped file and unzip it on the server. If you want to install WordPress on your root domain (like http://mydomain.com), upload the file to your site’s root directory, which is usually called public_html.

If you want it in a subfolder (i.e. http://mydomain.com/blog) then create that subdirectory inside public_html (/public_html/blog/) and upload the file there. Unzip the uploaded file as described in the video.

You will now have a directory named WordPress in your target folder.

This is where a bit of a kludge comes in.

You need to move the files in that folder up one level in the directory structure so they are directly inside your target directory, not in a subfolder of it. To do that, go into the WordPress directory you just created by unzipping the file.

Select all files in the directory. Then click the File Manager “Move” icon and move the files up one level. For the sake of housekeeping, delete the empty WordPress directory.

Now you’re ready for the next step.

Uploading via FTP

If you prefer to use an FTP client such as FileZilla to upload the files, there’s a video for that as well.

3. Create MySQL database and user

From the cPanel Admin, click on the MySQL Database Wizard icon in the Databases section.

WordPress Cpanel Database Wizard

Follow the wizard to create a new database and add an initial user.

  • For Step 1: Create a Database, enter a name for your database.
  • For Step 2: Create Database Users, enter a database username and password.
  • For Step 3: Add user to the database, select All Privileges.

Be sure to write down the database name, user name, and password as you will need them in the next step.

4. Go to your domain to complete the install

Open your domain in your web browser. If all is well, you’ll see a language selection page like this:

WordPress Cpanel Languages

Click Continue. The next screen simply advises you that you’re going to need the details of the database you created.

WordPress Cpanel Details

Click Let’s go! to continue to the next form, where you will enter your database connection details:

WordPress Cpanel Database Connection Details

Enter the database name, username and password you created. The database host is most commonly localhost, so you can leave that as is. When you click Submit, WordPress will test the connection and report success:

WordPress Cpanel Run

Click Run the installation to complete the final step. WordPress will ask you for a few details about your site, including a username and password for the Admin user:

WordPress Cpanel Welcome

Fill in the requested information and click Install WordPress. Mission accomplished!

WordPress Cpanel Installation Success

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Choosing a WordPress installation method

When picking an installation method, there are a couple of minor differences to consider:

If you install WordPress using an installer, you can easily uninstall it, database and all, through your cPanel control panel. If you install manually, you’ll have to delete manually, should that day come.

If you use the manual method, you can opt to install an older version of WordPress. Unless you have a specific reason for doing otherwise, it’s always best to install the latest version, so this generally isn’t important.

Related: How to uninstall WordPress

Some people prefer the ease of the installer while others like to get a little more under the hood. Whether you opt for the installer or go manual, your WordPress site will function just the same.

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Troubleshooting WordPress issues in cPanel

It’s happened to most of us: You implement a nice new tweak to spiff up your WordPress website, refresh the page to view the update, then whammo, your site comes crashing down and you’re frantically searching for WordPress troubleshooting tips.

Perhaps you’re the unlucky recipient of the infamous White Screen of Death (WSOD), or maybe you’ve earned the not terribly helpful “Internal Server Error” message.

Whatever it is, don’t panic — chances are this is something you can fix with a little tinkering.

A little WordPress troubleshooting knowledge goes a long way.

 

Here are some of the most common WordPress errors and how to fix them using cPanel.

Using cPanel to enable debugging in WordPress

Enabling debugging in WordPress causes detailed debugging messages to appear on your site, which can help with troubleshooting and pinpointing errors.

To enable debugging via cPanel, follow these steps:

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Click on the File Manager.
  3. Navigate to your website’s home folder.
  4. Select the wp-config.php file and click Edit.
  5. Look for the line define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );
  6. Change it to define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true );
  7. Save your changes.
  8. Use your browser to reload your website.

Debugging messages should now be visible on your site.

Keep in mind that not all debugging messages are equal. There’s a difference between an error message and a warning message, for example. You can learn more about debugging in WordPress in the official WordPress Codex article.

Related: 25 bug tracking tools for websites

White Screen of Death (WSOD)

If your website disappears and a blank white screen takes its place, you’re face to face with the White Screen of Death. Despite the terrifying name, all it really means is that there’s a PHP or database error interfering with WordPress displaying your site.

It might be due to a new theme or plugin, or an update gone awry.

Solutions to all of these are listed below. Think about changes you’ve recently made to the site, as that will point you toward the most likely culprit.

Related: How to update WordPress like a pro

WordPress plugin problems

WSOD can result from plugin conflicts. If you can log into your Admin screen, try deactivating all plugins. If your site reappears, turn them back on one at a time to pinpoint the offender.

If you can’t use your admin screens, you can disable plugins via cPanel using the following steps:

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Click on the File Manager.
  3. Navigate to your website’s home folder and then to /wp-content/
  4. Rename the subfolder /plugins/ to /plugins-disabled/
  5. Clear your browser cache and go back to your website.

If you can view your Admin screen, then the WSOD was likely caused by a plugin.

To figure out which plugin is causing the issue:

  1. In cPanel File Manager, in the /wp-content/ folder, create a new /plugins/ folder.
  2. Move individual plugins from the /plugins-disabled/ folder to /plugins/.
  3. Use your browser to reload the Admin screen.

The only active plugins will be whichever ones are in the /plugins/ folder. If the WSOD reappears, you’ll be able to pinpoint the culprit.

Alternatively, you can disable each plugin individually:

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Click on the File Manager.
  3. Navigate to your website’s home folder, then to /wp-content/plugins/.
  4. Append “-disabled” to the folder of any plugin you’d like to disable.
  5. Use your browser to reload the Admin screen. The plugin is now disabled.

For example, if you wanted to disable Akismet, you’d take the original folder name:

/wp-content/plugins/akismet/

And rename it to:

/wp-content/plugins/akismet-disabled/

WordPress theme problems

If you’ve renamed the plugin directory without success or have made a recent theme update, the WSOD might be due to a theme problem.

The process for fixing this is similar to the process for finding a rogue plugin:

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Click on the File Manager.
  3. Navigate to your website’s home folder and then to wp-content.
  4. Rename the subfolder themes to themes-disabled.
  5. Clear your browser cache and go back to your website. If you can view your Admin screen, then the WSOD was likely caused by installation of a new theme or a theme update. Use a different theme until you’re able to resolve the problem.

Related: How to install a WordPress theme

Bad .htaccess file

If the WSOD persists after taking the above steps for plugins and theme problems, you might have issues with the .htaccess file related to your site. To test this, take the following steps:

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Click on the File Manager.
  3. Navigate to your website’s home folder.
  4. Rename the file .htaccess to .htaccess-old.

Note that in some versions of File Manager, you’ll need to click on the File Manager Settings button and enable the “Show hidden files” option or you won’t be able to see this file.

Clear your browser cache and go back to your website. If the WSOD is gone, then you’re dealing with an issue related to a change in your .htaccess file. If you have a backup, restore it. Otherwise, you can use the standard WP .htaccess file as described here.

Alternatively, now that your admin screen is back, you can also navigate to Settings > Permalinks and click Save Changes. WordPress will create a new .htaccess file in your site’s root directory.

Related: How to back up a WordPress site

Internal Server Error

The dreaded “500 Internal Error” message is about as helpful as an umbrella in a hurricane. It basically means that there’s something wrong, but the server is unable to determine what it is.

The most common causes of this error on a WordPress site are a corrupted .htaccess file or problems with the PHP memory limit.

The first WordPress on cPanel troubleshooting step is to rename the .htaccess file as described above. If that doesn’t fix the problem, then you might have a problem with the PHP memory limit. Follow the instructions in the next section, Increase PHP Memory Limit.

If neither of these resolves the issue, then the problem may be due to a plugin or theme malfunction. Follow the steps for WordPress Plugin Problems and WordPress Theme Problems.

Increase PHP memory limit

It’s not uncommon for a WordPress installation to run into memory problems. You might receive a vague “internal server error” message or, if you’re lucky, the more descriptive: “Fatal error: Allowed memory size exhausted.”

Fortunately, you can increase the PHP memory limit to make this error go away. To do this via cPanel:

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Click on the File Manager.
  3. Navigate to your website’s home folder.
  4. Select the wp-config.php file and click Edit.
  5. Look for the line that says: /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */ and paste this just before it: define( ‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’ );
  6. Save your changes. When you revisit your website the error should be gone.

It’s important to note that, even if you’ve made this error go away by increasing the memory limit, you might still have a problem. Something is gobbling up memory, perhaps a recently installed plugin or a theme function. If you know how to check your server logs, you may be able to identify the culprit there.

Increase WordPress file upload size

If you’re trying to upload a large file, you might run into the “Exceeds maximum upload size for this site” message.

The default file size is often set low to keep people from uploading huge videos and massive files to your server.

 

If the limit is getting in your way, it’s possible to change it by configuring some server settings. If you’re using cPanel, making the changes is easy:

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. Scroll down to the Software section and click Select PHP version.

WordPress Cpanel PHP Select

  1. Click the link to Switch to PHP Options.

WordPress Cpanel PHP Version

  1. On the Options screen, you’ll need to modify three settings:
  • post_max_size
  • upload_max_filesize
  • memory_limit

These three settings are all related. To upload large files, post_max_size must be larger than upload_max_filesize. It is also recommended that memory_limit be set larger than post_max_size.

WordPress Cpanel PHP Settings

  1. Save your changes and you should now be able to upload your large file.

You could also implement these settings via creating or editing a php.ini file; however, doing it through cPanel is easier.

Related: How to enable Gzip compression for a WordPress website

WordPress is simple when everything goes smoothly, but when something goes awry, your entire site may go down with a bang.

Following the above WordPress troubleshooting steps will enable you to resolve most problems yourself. If you’re still stuck, contact your hosting provider’s technical support department. For GoDaddy customers, help is available 24/7.

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Other WordPress cPanel features for managing a site

cPanel offers functionality that goes way beyond basic installation and troubleshooting of WordPress websites.

Remember, cPanel is an interface to your entire hosting setup.

 

It’s easy to learn but hard to master. Here are a few more tips and tricks that will help:

cPanel has a LOT of options. Save yourself some scrolling by utilizing the search bar at the top of the cPanel home page —right where it says: Find functions quickly by typing here.

This is the quickest way to navigate cPanel.

WordPress Cpanel Search Bar

Installatron

The Installatron feature is one of the most useful cPanel tools. In addition to using it to install WordPress (as described above) and other applications, you can use it to:

  • Help manage your existing WordPress site by editing details such as the site name or administrator password. If you forget your WordPress administrator login, you can reset it here!
  • Clone an existing site on your server. For example, if you want to move your site from a development area to a live version (on your hosting), you can do it here.
  • Uninstall an old site.
  • Create backups of your WordPress site.

WordPress Cpanel Installatron Settings

File manager

File Manager allows you to upload and manage your files directly through cPanel itself.

If you’re going to be uploading more than one file then you’ll need to place them in a .zip file because the file manager can only upload one at a time.

After all your files are uploaded, just unzip them with the file manager and BAM! — all of your website files are now on your server. Keep in mind you’ll also need to upload and import a MySQL database if you’re setting up a WordPress site.

Select PHP version

Using the select PHP version module will allow you to manually select which version of PHP you want to use.

It is restricted to what your hosting provider offers.

This should be one of the first stops to any troubleshooting, as the PHP version can dramatically affect the way your site resolves and renders.

 

It is a good idea to keep your PHP version current (or at least recent) as PHP updates can affect security and site functioning.

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The bottom line

cPanel is a robust hosting control panel. It has way too many features to cover in a single post – read more about GoDaddy’s cPanel Hosting options.

For even more resources, check out cPanel’s site for further information.

Go to GoDaddy Help for further assistance.

cPanel and WordPress go together like salt and pepper — use them separately or together, and either way your experience will improve.

And remember, if you’ve got a mission-critical site on your hands or multiple websites to manage, try GoDaddy Business Hosting. It’s the best of both worlds — the amped-up power of a Virtual Private Server, but with the easy-to-use cPanel dashboard.

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Joe Forrest.

Image by: Lachlan on Unsplash