No Hassle Drupal Installation Guide

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Drupal installation guideThe purpose of this guide is to provide an easy to use, no hassle Drupal installation guide, regardless of the version you’re installing. Remember that Drupal is one of the more powerful CMS (Content Management Systems), and may not be as easy to use or install out of the box as say, the more popular WordPress blogging platform. But once you have Drupal installed and are comfortable using it, you’ll see that you have greater flexibility and power at your fingertips.

Drupal Install Walkthrough with mySQL, cPanel, and phpMyAdmin

This sample install guide uses mySQL 4.0, cPanel, and phpMyAdmin as its default install tools. You may need to adjust your steps accordingly for different software or versions.

Obtaining Drupal

The first thing you’ll need to do is head on over to Drupal.org and download the latest stable Drupal release (in a compressed format – for example .zip). Browser to where you downloaded the file and extract it to where you would like your Drupal installation to be. Note: for CVS testing please read the (link) CVS section below first to set up a version control environment.

Preparing your Server

Setting Email Addresses

Once you have registered your domain and gotten access to cPanel, log in, and make sure you have a default email address set, a catch-all address, and any forwarding addresses if necessary.

Setting up your Database and User

Next, click on “MySql Databases,” and under Databases: type in a database name after the Db: prompt and click on “Add Db.” So far so good? Next, type in a username and password in the Users: section and click on “Add User.” Finally, you are going to click on “Add User to DB” in the Databases: section, making sure that “Privileges: All” is checked (no other check marks necessary). You will then see the screen display connection strings – no need to write them down, but it is a good idea to write down your full username and database name (the names you chose are usually prepended by your hosting account username).

Running Drupal SQL commands in phpMyAdmin

The database and user privileges have now been created. In order to add the Drupal database structure we are going to access phpMyAdmin by clicking on “phpMyAdmin” on the bottom of the page. Once in the phpMyAdmin environment, click on your database name, and then in the navigation tabs on top click on “SQL.” Here we are going to browse for Drupal’s SQL file which contains a series of SQL statements that the server will run to produce Drupal’s database tables. Browser for the “location of the text file” to the directory where you extracted Drupal, and select the database file in the /database directory corresponding to your SQL version (often database.4.0.mysql). You can leave compression on “Autodetect;” click ‘Go’ and the tables will be created.

Installing Drupal

Prepare Settings File

You need to make some changes to the <root>/sites/default/settings.php file to let Drupal know where your database is and how to access it. Open the file and edit the following lines:

  • $db_url = ‘mysql://username:password@localhost/databasename’; -> make sure you are using the line corresponding to your SQL version (mySQL is the default). Replace username and password with the username and password you wrote down when you setup the database. Remember that these are usually prepended by your hosting account username, for example: hostingname_username:password@localhost/hostingname_databasename. Make sure that the line is surrounded by single quotes and ends in a semicolon, or you will end up with the Drupal Unexpected T_CONSTANT_ENCAPSED_STRING error.
  • # $base_url = ‘//www.example.com’; // NO trailing slash! -> this line is commented out in Drupal 4.7.0 and higher because it is no longer necessary – if the line is uncommented, or you can’t get your installation to work, fill in your domain name here.

Upload Your Drupal Files

You can use a version control system to see which files change in each version of Drupal. That way, you do not have to replace everything every time there’s a minor upgrade. If you are installing Drupal for the first time, simply upload the entire contents of the Drupal directory you extracted. Using the FTP access information given to you by your hosting provider, upload the files to your public_html (or www) folder on your domain’s server.

Install the First Account

Once your database is setup, settings file edited, and files are uploaded, browse to your new domain name. You will be shown a screen asking you to setup your first Drupal account. If you don’t see this screen, search the site using the search box on the left or browse directly to my listing of Drupal Error Messages to see if your error is listed. If not, search Google for “Drupal [insert your error message here]”. Once your first account is setup you are ready to setup your Drupal installation for general use.

Setting up Drupal for the First Time

I am going to walk you through a series of steps to get Drupal running with commonly used features and modules.

General Settings

  • In the left-hand column, browse to administer -> settings -> General settings and change “Drupal” to the name of your website. Next add a contact email address for your website.
  • I recommend checking “Clean URL’s” for SEF (Search Engine Friendliness) purposes. In newer Drupal versions you will need to click on the “clean URL test” to see if your server configuration supports clean URL’s, before the clean URL button is enabled.
  • Under Error Handling change Error reporting to “Write errors to the log” (you don’t want them written to the screen as everyone will see them – this is fine, on the other hand, in a local testing environment.
  • Under Date Settings adjust to your local timezone.
  • Under Site Maintenance you may want to check “Offline” until you are finished making changes. When the site is offline only user 1 (you, as administrator) has access to the site. If for some reason you log yourself out while the site is offline you can get back online by browsing to <root>/user and entering your username and password (the ones you signed up with as administrator – other users will not be able to sign in). Next edit the Site off-line message and change “Drupal” to your site’s name.

Configuring Themes

One of the great things about Drupal are its customizable themes. You can modify Drupal themes with simple knowledge of stylesheets. By browsing to administer -> themes you will see a list of the default themes installed. Feel free to select some of the alternate themes (bluemarine is the default – it is recommended to switch your site back to the default bluemarine theme during upgrades in case an upgrade creates an incompatibility with an alternate theme).

Click on configure next to the theme you’ve decided to use. This will give you access to theme-related settings, most of which are self-explanatory. You can set global settings that take effect when specific theme settings do not override them.

Installing Drupal Modules

Commonly Recommended Drupal Core Modules

Click on administer -> modules and select the following modules if they are not already selected:

  • aggregator – for feed (RSS, Atom, etc.) support.
  • comment – allows users to post comments.
  • forum – enables users to post in threaded forum discussions.
  • menu – enables users to customize the site navigation menu.
  • page – enables the creation of pages that can be added to the navigation system.
  • path – allows users to rename URLs. Combined with the pathauto module this is important to creating SEF (Search Engine Friendly) URL’s. You will be able to create a path alias so your page will look like directory/page-title instead of directory/node/2.
  • search – enables sitewide key searching. For those having trouble configuring, or have never heard of, cron, we will be installing poormans cron (below) to work with this.
  • statistics – logs access statistics for your site.
  • story – allows users to submit stories, articles or similar content.
  • taxonomy – enables the categorization of content.
  • tracker – enables tracking of recent posts for users.
  • upload – allows users to upload and attach files to content.

How to Obtain and Install Contributed (Addon) Modules

In order to get the most out of your Drupal installation, I recommend installing the following addon modules. First, I’ll show you the basics on how addon modules (contributed modules) are installed.

Obtaining Addon Modules

Browse to Drupal Modules and select the modules you are interested in (some basic recommended ones will be discussed below). Download the version corresponding with your version of Drupal and extract and upload the module directory into your <root>/modules/ folder.

Installing Addon Modules

Some modules install without database support. For those that do not, access phpMyAdmin (as described above), click on SQL again, and this time browse to your module’s (ie. module.mysql) file (in <root>/modules/) and click on “Go.” This will add your module’s table and SQL data to your Drupal database. Next:

  • Browse to administer -> modules and enable the module you just added. If you copied the module directory correctly into your /modules folder you should see the module name in the list.
  • For Drupal 4.7 and higher: Drupal has automated module support that will let you install and upgrade modules by simply uploading them into your /modules folder and then browsing to example.com/update.php (you must be logged in as administrator for the update to work). This is the same update script used for updating the Drupal core.
  • Module Settings: Browse to administer -> settings -> [module name] to configure your module. Voila!

Commonly Recommended Drupal Addon Modules

  • poormanscron – runs the Drupal cron operations without needing the cron application.
  • feedback – very similar to Drupal’s core contact module, for differences between the two see this thread.
  • filemanager – adds support for a managed file repository for other modules.
  • nodewords – allows users to add meta tags, eg keywords or description – I recommend disabling “universal” mega tags and writing specific keywords and descriptions for each node.
  • pathauto – provides a mechanism for modules to automatically generate aliases for the content they manage. This is especially useful for active forums and when many pages are being produced on a site – by giving each page a name they are automatically becomming more SEF (Search Engine Friendly).

Dozens of Additional Useful Modules

The above modules still merely represent a core installation. For most purposes there are many more modules that will prove useful and that I almost added to the above list. The include instant messaging modules such as privatmsg, the Google sitemap module gsitemap, modules supporting feed (RSS) functionality and syndication, and more. Check out my List of Popular Drupal Modules for an extended list.

Setting up Access Control

We’re almost done! After installing your modules (you can always add more later), browse to administer -> access control, where you may define access control for user types and add user roles. Typically some useful access roles are turned off by default. By turning these on for anonymous users you let non-members access content, view forums, read news feeds, etc. which you probably want them to be able to do so you can better promote your site. Some typical recommendations for anonymous access include:

  • aggregator module – access news feeds
  • comment module – access comments & post comments
  • feedback module – can send feedback
  • node module – access content (without this they won’t see your site at all)
  • poll module – vote on polls
  • search module – search content

Again, you can customize these according to specific user roles, so if you have content managers with different access privileges you can differentiate their authorization levels here.

Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.

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89 Comments on "No Hassle Drupal Installation Guide"

avatar
Dirty Thirty
Dirty Thirty

I have learned many new things.
Thanks a lot

Roney
Roney

I have had a bad experience with Drupal but reading your post it seems to be very easy.

Fire Steel
Fire Steel

I’m new to Drupal and this keeps me up to speed. I wish you placed images in this guide so I can follow through without the need to read it again and again.

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

Sorry you had to reread some of the article. We will consider adding images to the guide in our next audit. Thank you for reading.

HDWallpapers
HDWallpapers

This is an interesting post and it reminds me yet again that Drupal is the awesome! So many ways to use this content management system. Thanks for sharing.

anniew
anniew

I am a drupal developer since three years and I was in search on how to install drupal 7 modules as when I run the command it was showing an error. Anyway thanks for providing us with the guide to install it.

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

You’re welcome anniew! Glad we were able to help you out!

bryann
bryann

Wow, thank you for sharing such a useful, informative and helpful article.

Jonathan
Jonathan

Drupal is most powerful and common for website development. This tutorial is really great and helpful for me. It’s really enjoyable to use. I like drupal very much and I am trying to know more about this.

best seo services
best seo services

This is a nice article. I was glad to find it.. Thanks for this installation guide.

Web Design Kent
Web Design Kent

Great. I’m glad that I found your post. Its worth to share it with my friends.

Jack
Jack

Hey Drupal is a great CMS. I’ve only used WordPress before, so thank you very much!

Anwan
Anwan

Very nice – exactly what I needed this is it.

baltic amber
baltic amber

Drupal is recently a very popular software but i am feeling problem to database although i had solve it but still sometime showing error.I think i will recover it as soon as possible. Drupal is always my favorite for design.

Thanks

linkjon
linkjon

Drupal 7 will only support PostgreSQL 8.3 or higher

PHP 5.2.6 for Windows has a bug in its pgsql extension. You will need to replace it with the php_pgsql.dll from version 5.2.5.

Al-Amin Dipto
Al-Amin Dipto

Drupal 5.x and earlier supports MySQL 3.23.17 or higher. MySQL 4.1 or higher is strongly recommended.Thanks Your Great Post This Post Is very Helpful.

kelly
kelly

I enjoyed examining this. Very good stuff. Regards, K

Brandon
Brandon

Hey great site. I run a website and have a client with Drupal. I usually build with WordPress, so your info will help with this new project. Keep up the guides! Thanks!

AjayUdyagiri
AjayUdyagiri

Even though there are many blog platforms, I consider WordPress to be the best. Moreover, Drupal comes in second to WordPress in my opinion.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustments would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your design. With thanks.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Before initiating installation, make sure you possess a compatible device such as iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I am at We Kompare Jobs and I need to set up a blog. What software is the easiest to set up. I could use Drupal or WordPress or even Joomla. I am being hosted on a Windows server.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Have any of you web rockers heard of HiFi CMS? It looks like it’s a proprietary (ie. not open source) hosted CMS where you pay monthly. It looks pretty slick and the pricing is okay, but obviously free would be better (and I’d like to be in control of my own content).

Any comparisons of Drupal vs HiFi?

Anonymous
Anonymous

We’ve been on the HiFi content management system for a while now, and while we’re somewhat impressed with how simple the interface is, we should point out that it is severely lacking when it comes to advanced functionality (e-commerce, CRM capabilities, social media integration, etc.).

Unfortunately we don’t see that changing anytime soon as the system is proprietary (closed source), carries a monthly fee, and only has a small group of developers working on it.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I think it would be just peachy if this guide could be updated for Drupal 7 Would it be too much to ask for a video installation tutorial as well?

Anonymous
Anonymous

I am new in web programming. I have some problem in making Drupal run after downloading. As I launch it gives me some problems like fatal error and the PC tends to become unstable. Did anyone have a similar problem?

Anonymous
Anonymous

You have no idea how long I’ve been looking for this. Question, can I install it on blogspot sites ?

– Runna

We Rock Your Web
We Rock Your Web

Drupal is it’s own CMS platform, that you download and install on your own hosting server. I don’t believe they currently offer a self-hosted option such as WordPress or Blogspot. So, to answer your question, no, you can’t install Drupal functionality on Blogspot – you need to choose one or the other.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you for showing us this. It was much easier with your help, because before I thought this process was intimidating. Again great work, and I would like to say that I enjoy reading your other posts too!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Great article, while some of the principles still apply to the older Drupal installations (4.x, 5.x), it seems that 6.x and 7.x have quite the streamlined installation processes. Any chance you’ll be incorporating details as to how install the newer Drupal platforms into this article?

Anonymous
Anonymous

My server doesn’t have Drupal support.

Anonymous
Anonymous

hi

your blog is very nice, it always proves profitable to me.

thanks for sharing your views and ideas.

metrogyl

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks so much for this post! very detailed and complete. Ive been told that Drupal is quite nice, so I’m gonna give it a try.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for the information. It is very hard to find good blogs nowadays. I am glad I came across yours and I look forward to reading your next post. Best Regards!

Anonymous
Anonymous

I’m so bored of reading about Drupal. I have never personally used it, nor do I plan on too. Anyways if it works for you than right on.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Drupal is a free and open source content management system (CMS). It has a lot of advantages tover other CMS’es, but many advantages are only interesting to developers, not to end-users. If you’re a developer you can therefore understand the importance of Drupal.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Super dooper drupal! Drupal is #1!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Excellent guide. I’m new to Drupal and want to say, thanks a lot for this useful install guide. The info is pretty good and the description very accurate. Keep the good work.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Drupal is a great tool for web design and you’ve done an outstanding job walking a newbie through the process. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Dear Sir/Madam,

I want to install Drupal. Would you please tell me the steps to install.

Thanking You,

Regards,
J.K.Biswal

We Rock Your Web
We Rock Your Web

Hmmm, did you see the Drupal installation guide above? If you need further help, I suggest you visit drupal.org.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I have learned so much about the Drupal and I greatly appreciate your tips!

Anonymous
Anonymous

ya that helped me a lot.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you for this wonderful Drupal guide. It amazes me how powerful Drupal is, especially when compared to some of the more popular CMS platforms (WordPress, Joomla). Why does Drupal have such a small following in relation to the competition?

We Rock Your Web
We Rock Your Web

Drupal is actually growing at quite a rapid clip now. Drupal was always very powerful and expandable, and has had a large following and knowledgeable support community. However, they never had quite the marketing adage of other CMS systems.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Great blog full of information I need. You have saved me lots of time trawlin the net…

Jill

Anonymous
Anonymous

Nice. The guide on the official Drupal site is fine, but this gets to the meat of the install process more quickly. Also, I wish the guys over at Drupal would assign a team to overhaul their site. In much need of a redesign, don’t you think?

Anonymous
Anonymous

I am trying to understand how I can add one Drupal site to my current web hosting account and be assured that the 7 sites currently hosted there (simple HTML sites) each as a sub-directory pointed to by a specific URL, will not be affected negatively. I find lots of info about installing Drupal (by itself) or some info about multiple Drupal sites, but nothing about this mix. I expect it’s simple, but I want to be sure I don’t destroy anything my customers are currently using.

We Rock Your Web
We Rock Your Web

Good question. You definitely need to be careful as Drupal’s various rewrite rules in .htaccess may affect how your static HTML pages are served. I would test your setup on another account before applying changes to your live directory.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I was using Joomla before, and for some time i have turned on to Drupal. I have just started with it. A great CMS and very easy to install. Articles like these are really helping me out for gaining more information practically regarding installation and other features.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for sharing, this is great information and the step by step guide is amazing. Good job, really nice.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for the detailed installation guide. It’s helped move us off of WordPress and into Drupal.

Thanks,
Scott

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for this guide. I found the information I was looking for,
and I appreciate that. It’s given me flexibility on my fingertips.

Thanks

Anonymous
Anonymous

Good stuff – just what I needed

Anonymous
Anonymous

I see that there’s tons of Drupal information on this site, and I appreciate that. I also run Joomla sites, but can’t find nearly as much info on Joomla. Do you have a Joomla installation guide as well?

Anonymous
Anonymous

Good stuff – just what I needed to get me jump-started on Drupal. Man, Drupal is powerful! And the community is well organized, unlike some of its competitors (that I’ll leave unnamed for now).

Anonymous
Anonymous

Great step by step guide on getting up and running with Drupal CMS, thanks. Any chance you have a similar guide for Joomla? You’d think the setup process between these two CMS’es would be similar, but so far I’m finding Drupal’s installation steps to be getting easier, while Joomla’s are proving more and more difficult.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I agree with the above commenter that it would be useful to have this guide updated for Drupal 6.x. Any chance of that in the near future?

Anonymous
Anonymous

anyone tried it yet?

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for this Drupal guide. Coupled with some of the guides in the official Drupal handbook I found the information I was looking for, although I found this one a lot easier to get to the meat of things in a couple steps.

I wish drupal.org could improve their search functionality? Whenever I need to find something on their site I end up using Google search. Then again, I guess there’s a reason they’re the kings of search…

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you for your time to make this install guide.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Same here. I’m going to try and add this to my auto installation system

Allen McDaniel

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you for your time to make this install guide.
It’s very easy to understand.
Thank you.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for this excellent Drupal install guide. I tried to find a similar guide on the Drupal website, but got lost in the fray…

Anonymous
Anonymous

I’m using the weebee theme with Drupal. I want to remove the header with Flash. I want to use HTML for this as a new module. I have done a similar thing in Joomla to display Flash, do you think this will work with my web design template for Drupal as well?

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for your time posting this helpful info on installing Drupal

Thanks from Joe
Short Jokes Owner

Anonymous
Anonymous

Very great info… I am glad I found it. Bookmarked!

Thanks
Joe Hayes

Anonymous
Anonymous

Great Drupal guide, thanks for the tips. I wasn’t sure if it would apply to more current versions of Drupal (6.x), but it appears to. Any chance of updating this in the near future? Or providing detailed updating instructions for newer versions of Drupal?

Anonymous
Anonymous

I had my web designer make a site for me and made it all in plain HTML. But a business consultant told me that is not the best way to maintain a frequently changing site and recommended I use Drupal or Joomla (Another CMS). When I went back to my designer, he told me the design of my site will not work with Drupal or Joomla. I tried installing Drupal myself using my webhost using Fantastico in cPanel. It was easy to install but after looking into it, I do not understand how can I make this work with the layout of my website. I was thinking maybe the manual installation has more options ask where I kind of “model” the site how it is installed to reflect the design of my site. Because when I used cPanel to install my Drupal, it was just one form and it was done, like I did not configure anything.

alexc
alexc

Hi there,

One of the strengths of Drupal is its flexibility. You should be able to customize Drupal to fit just about any website design or functionality. I took a look at your website – that is definitely doable in Drupal. A manual installation and development by an experienced Drupal developer is recommended. Visit drupal.org to post your project if you don’t have the experience to do it yourself. The automated installations within cPanel leave much to be desired, and are often outdated and not secure.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I was so excited to install Drupal and it took 2 days for me to install it. There was some installation error with global variable which should have been off and it didn’t allow me to keep on installing it. I got a solution after 24 hours of search and now I have Drupal installed on my domain.

alexc
alexc

Hi there,

Good question – most of the advice and techniques in this guide apply to Drupal 5 and 6 installations as well. If I ever find the time I’ll update the guide with Drupal 6 installation specifics.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Great article – do you have any plans on updating this installation guide for Drupal 6?

Anonymous
Anonymous

I agree, not many UK hosting companies allow people to install drupal on their servers, most are aimed towards wordpress. It’s worth shopping round first and contacting the web hosts to see if they can accommodate your drupal site.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Drupal is free but getting it installed and hosted can be quite expensive. Do you offer hosting services?

alexc
alexc

Hello,

We offer hosting, but currently only for existing clients. We often refer people to Dreamhost. If you use the promo code “CWD50” you’ll get a discount – up to 47% off depending on the package you order.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks for this, probably one of the more coherent explanations of how to get up and running with Drupal. And definitely the one I’ll be printing and using.

So Thanks from Dave

Anonymous
Anonymous

Wow that is a lot of stuff you need to configure just for one installation. I’m going to try and add this to my auto installation system for my web hosting business.

Anonymous
Anonymous

thanks for the post!

Anonymous
Anonymous

I like this installation guide for Drupal – well written and has helped me get off to a running start. Any chance it will be updated for Drupal 6.x?

Anonymous
Anonymous

Friend ! I save this post at computer. Very useful. Thanks !

Anonymous
Anonymous

wow! nice article. thank you for sharing.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Very nice – exactly what I needed Just curious – I remember reading that there is a video install guide somewhere. Do you have that as well or know where I might find it?

Anonymous
Anonymous

My server doesn’t have MySQL. Can I install Drupal?

We Rock Your Web
We Rock Your Web

At the moment, Drupal only supports mySQL and PostgreSQL.

# Drupal 6 supports MySQL 4.1 or higher.
# Drupal 5.x and earlier supports MySQL 3.23.17 or higher. MySQL 4.1 or higher is strongly recommended.
# Drupal 7 will only support MySQL 5.0 or higher.

# Drupal 7 will only support PostgreSQL 8.3 or higher
# PHP 5.2.6 for Windows has a bug in its pgsql extension. You will need to replace it with the php_pgsql.dll from version 5.2.5.

There are plans to support other database formats, such as MS SQL Server and Oracle, in future releases.

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