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WordPress Troubleshooting: Finished installation and it doesn’t work!

This article was inspired by the fact that WordPress downloads recently passed the 1,000,000 mark.

There are some very common problems that pop-up frequently on the WordPress Support Forums that can stop an installation dead in it’s tracks. This is my attempt at covering these issues while still relying on the WordPress codex.

To provide a common ground for the following, I suggest (assume?) that these are the installation steps followed:

  1. Download and unzip the WordPress package, if you haven’t already.
  2. Create a database for WordPress on your web server, as well as a MySQL user who has all privileges for accessing and modifying it.
  3. Rename the wp-config-sample.php file to wp-config.php.
  4. Open wp-config.php in your favorite text editor and fill in your database details.
  5. Place the WordPress files in the desired location on your web server:
    • If you want to integrate WordPress into the root of your domain (e.g. http://example.com/), move or upload all contents of the unzipped WordPress directory (but excluding the directory itself) into the root directory of your web server.
    • If you want to have your WordPress installation in its own subdirectory on your web site (e.g. http://example.com/blog/), rename the directory wordpress to the name you’d like the subdirectory to have and move or upload it to your web server. For example if you want the WordPress installation in a subdirectory called “blog”, you should rename the directory called “wordpress” to “blog” and upload it to the root directory of your web server.
  6. Run the WordPress installation script by accessing wp-admin/install.php in your favorite web browser.
    • If you installed WordPress in the root directory, you should visit: http://example.com/wp-admin/install.php
    • If you installed WordPress in its own subdirectory called blog, for example, you should visit: http://example.com/blog/wp-admin/install.php

That’s it! WordPress should now be installed.

If Video tutorials are your thing, try Rachel’s WordPress Quickstart Screencast Tutorial (1).

Let’s start with installations that never finished, these are usually MySQL Database related:

“Your PHP installation appears to be missing the MySQL which is required for WordPress.”

This one needs to be reported to your host, and is often the result of being on a Windows-Server based plan, rather then a Linux-Server based plan (godaddy.com for example). If you know you are on a Linux server, then it is not configured correctly (example: php and/or php-mysql packages are not installed).

“There doesn’t seem to be a wp-config.php file. I need this before we can get started. Need more help? We got it.”

Check Step 3 and 4 from above. Check your path (file location). wp-config.php should be in the same folder as the directories wp-admin/, wp-content/ and wp-includes/ (commonly referred to as the WordPress ‘root’ or top-level directory). Verify there is no whitespace in the file (from the codex):

  1. Download wp-config.php (if you don’t have shell access).
  2. Open it in your favorite text editor.
  3. Check that the first line contains nothing but <?php, and that there is no text before it (not even whitespace).
  4. Check that the last line contains nothing but ?>, and that there is no text after it (not even whitespace).
  5. Save the file, upload it again.
“Can’t select database
We were able to connect to the database server (which means your username and password is okay)…”

This error may appear if you have not created a database yet, or if the database name/host is incorrect. WordPress needs a MySQL database to be created and if you’re not sure there is one, visit this codex article (please note that different hosts have different procedures, one of my hosts used it’s own MySQL db creation system that only required me to enter a db name, username and userpassword).

If you know you have a MySQL database setup already, then it’s time to check the wp-config.php you edited in Step 4 above. Confirm you have the right information there. If you’re unsure of the name(s)/password/hostname check with your hosts db management panel, or ask your host’s tech support. Note that some hosts require a hostname other then “localhost” (godaddy.com, Dreamhost and 1&1 use something like “mysql23.secureserver.net”, while Network Solutions uses a specific IP address similar to “201.128.164.110″).  If your host uses cpanel verify whether or not your username is being appended to the database name, e.g.; sdevol_wordpressdb.

You put “www.myblog.com/wp-admin/install.php” in your browser’s URL and hit return, but nothing else happens!”

This is frequently due to an incomplete or corrupt file. Delete everything EXCEPT wp-config.php and re-upload all the files. Be careful that you’re not transferring in ‘binary’ mode. All the WordPress files are in text format. I recommend using FileZilla.

You put “www.myblog.com/wp-admin/install.php” in your browser’s URL and hit return, and a bunch of gobbledy-goop text/characters appear!”

This sounds like your host does not have PHP installed or configured correctly. Contact your host. Continue muttering under your breath.

I never got my new WordPress password emailed to me!

WordPress uses the php mail() function (which then passes to sendmail). For it to work properly your host must configure it correctly. If you’re just plain stuck, Podz has a guide here for changing your password (one of many good guides, btw) with phpMyAdmin.

I am getting “Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by…”

This is because of the ‘whitespace’ issue referred to above. For the ADD readers (of which I am one… Look! A CHICKEN!!!) I’ll repeat it:

  1. Download wp-config.php (if you don’t have shell access).
  2. Open it in your favorite text editor.
  3. Check that the first line contains nothing but, and that there is no text before it (not even whitespace).Check that the last line contains nothing but ?>, and that there is no text after it (not even whitespace).

Save the file, upload it again.
 

For more obscure problems/errors, visit the WordPress Support Forums.

As usual, feedback and corrections welcome!

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Posted in Computers, Things, WordPress
3 comments on “WordPress Troubleshooting: Finished installation and it doesn’t work!
  1. mcfingrs says:

    doh!

    humble thanks

  2. Doc Gee says:

    Latest WordPress install has made all my images disappear but changing the link to a content backup storage directory!!!

    I’ve got two years worth of magazine blogs that need images restored!

    Please help!

  3. Sam says:

    Doc, what about doing a URL search/replace through the database?

    If you don’t feel comfortable with SQL queries, you could try this plugin:
    Update URLs.

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