Installing WordPress Manually on Dreamhost in Less than 5 Minutes

[Like the quality of the screencast? I use the Screenflow app for it!]

I thought it would be helpful for new bloggers who were venturing into self-hosted WordPress installations to actually show how this might happen in a live environment.

For example, in the above video, I show how easy it can be for a novice to get their own WordPress-powered blog up and running with speed; in less than 5 minutes (or so).

Pretty sweet, right?

Dreamhost Logo

For this specific example I’ll be using Dreamhost, which is one of many web hosting providers that you can choose from. The process for installing WordPress on these other hosts is very similar, and many like Dreamhost have 1-click installers.

Is this helpful and/or useful? If so, I can probably create a few more on some of the major hosting providers out there.

Let me know! Have a great time and if you have any questions just drop them in the comments.

Rock on.

  • Jordan Wiseman

    Question…why don’t you just use the “Advanced Mode” one-click install? It has all the same features as manually installing, doesn’t it?

    • John Saddington

      it doesn’t completely but it ultimately results in the same outcome.

      but, the point of this walkthrough was “completely manual”. i wanted to show how easy it was to not do the 1-click.

  • David

    I use the advanced one-click when I add properties. My wife was amazed by my ninja-quick work getting her blog up and running. Now if I could just get her to write a post…

    • John Saddington

      yup. just as good!

  • Kevin

    I’m a nerd…but you already knew that…I do this all in the command line. :-)

    • John Saddington


  • Clay

    How do you install it without having to go to each time? Would you ever just install it to the root so that index.html reflects the WordPress theme?

    • Kevin

      It looks nicer that way. In Domains->Manage Domains->Click Edit on the domain you want to edit. Change the web directory to /home/username/domain/wordpress

      Should get ya :)

      • Clay

        Thank you!

        • John Saddington

          i see kevin’s got you!

      • John Saddington

        thanks kevin for helping!

  • ThatGuyKC

    So I followed the tutorial, setup a database, and successfully installed WordPress.

    Thing is, for some reason (probably my fault) Coda wouldn’t let me log into the database I created directly so now the blog url is “…com/wordpress”

    I found the “Moving WordPress” tutorial on, but was wondering if you had any quick tips? Should I create a new database and delete the old one?

    • Kevin

      These are easy fixes. To fix the /wordpress issue, do this in the control panel:

      In Domains->Manage Domains->Click Edit on the domain you want to edit. Change the web directory to /home/username/domain/wordpress

      Dreamhost doesn’t allow to directly connect to their database servers for security reasons. You have to use SSH tunnels to accomplish that.

      They do, however, offer PHPMyAdmin which is just as helpful as connecting directly.

      Get there by browsing to the URL of you MySQL server and entering your username/password.

      You need to edit 2 locations in the database, both in the wp_options table.

      You can run these SQL commands:

      UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = ‘http://SITEURL.TLD/’ WHERE option_id =2;

      UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = ‘http://HOMEPAGE.TLD’ WHERE option_id =39;

      Edit SITEURL.TLD and HOMEPAGE.TLD They should be the same, unless you want your home page to be somewhere else.

      • John Saddington

        whoa, great stuff! thanks kevin!

        • Kevin

          You bet! Anytime!

    • John Saddington

      dude….. who needs me when you’ve got kevin here!

      • Kevin

        Dude, definitely need you around…you have the super secret blogging sauce recipe…I just have a few technical spices!

        • John Saddington

          dude. you’re awesome. let’s be friends!

          • Kevin

            Sounds good to me! :)

  • Fernando

    Hi John,

    I really appreciate your blog and directions you are giving. I am just initiating myself in this area of self-hosting my blog. I followed your instructions here as well as Kevin’s (in the comments), and my new blog links show up all broken when I make the change of the web directory. It works well if I leave it as /wordpress; but all the links are broken to page templates and images if I change the web directory.

    Any thoughts?

    • John Saddington

      how are you changing the web directory? make sure you’re following these steps:

      • Fernando

        I followed the instructions as mentioned above:

        “In Domains->Manage Domains->Click Edit on the domain you want to edit. Change the web directory to /home/username/domain/wordpress”

        I made no changes on the WordPress installation itself.

        My installation is on dreamhost as well.

        Do you mean I also have to follow the steps you provide in the link above besides making the change in the domain information?

        Thank you for your help.

        • Kevin

          Yup! You have to update the database so that WordPress knows where it is. Those instructions are above too. :-)

          • Fernando

            Thanks John and Kevin. I was able to make it work. Happy New Year to both of you.

            • John Saddington


  • Kevin

    John (& maybe Kevin),

    I used the one-click install option to launch (no tomatoes please) and when I attempt to upload a new theme (STANDARD of course) I don’t have the “Add New Theme” option. Instead I get this error:

    “You do not have sufficient permissions to install themes on this site.”

    Could it be that the 1-click install and it did something funky to my admin rights?

    The only forum is open-ended on this subject and doesn’t answer it:

    • Kevin

      Most likely…one click installs are funky. I’ve never actually tried it before. I’m too much of a control freak. I’d go back and do a manual install. It gives you more bragging rights in the end anyway!

      Don’t let the manual process scare you. The first time I did it, I was 14 and knew nothing about…well…anything…but was totally clueless about PHP, MySQL, etc. It’s really easy. Follow John’s tutorial on Installing WordPress with Security in Mind ( You’ll find it more helpful than this one.

      I think spending time trying to figure out why you don’t have permissions, etc. would take longer (and it’d cost you if you’re aiming for profit) than just doing a manual install.

      You can do it!

      • John Saddington

        thanks kevin! you’re such a help.

      • Kevin


        Thanks for the help. I did a custom install (DreamHost has been updated since this tutorial) and my permissons are as they should be.


        Loving this series – though I’m a couple weeks behind you in execution.

        • John Saddington

          all good! it’s here forever. take your time!

  • Josh Tandy

    As I am thinking about making the switch from .com to .org I want to keep the same url when I do pull the trigger. What do I do as I am getting my .org ready? Trying to avoid downtime as I finish out the design for the .org

    • Kevin

      I don’t know if there’s a good answer for this one! …but what I’d do: setup a temporary domain name, or use the IP address of your new place and install and configure WordPress, change the WordPress URL in the database, then change the A record in your DNS settings with your registrar (GoDaddy, etc.), and wait for the DNS to propogate…I’m sure there are better ways than that, that’s just what I would do /have done.

    • John Saddington

      well, you can actually do anything you want as long as you disassociate the self-hosted domain from

  • Jeff Rainey

    Nice vid! I am going to point customers with WordPress installation questions here.

    • John Saddington

      sure thing jeff! neat things, btw!

      • Jeff Rainey

        thanks much!

  • Theresa Rogers

    Hi John,

    I hope this thread is still active!

    I have a one-click (simple?) install of WordPress and want to uninstall that and install the manual version so I have more options. I’m a complete novice at this stuff–how do I switch without losing my posts, comments, and all the things I’ve already set up on the blog?


    • John Saddington

      hmm. you’d have to export the database and then import it into the new one. what’s the biggest need?

  • denniscarmody

    Your video has disappeared…