T-Minus 1 Day – Blog Setup Part 1: Transferring DNS to HostGator and Installing WordPress

This is the first in a short two-part series of posts walking you through the setup leading up to publishing my first post.

In order for people to find your blog, you have to change to the domain name servers (DNS) for your domain. I’m going to show you how I changed TheHobbyBlogger.com’s name servers from Namecheap, my registrar, to HostGator, my shared web host.

A little bit of background first

You can find any website by entering its internet protocol (IP) address, like 209.85.148.106 for Google. Google.com is much easier to remember than an IP address, so name servers are used to keep track of which IP addresses go with which domain names.

But not every website has it’s own IP address. If you lookup the IP addresses of TheHobbyBlogger.com, the IP is 184.173.246.32. If you enter that address in a web browser, you’ll get a Page Not Found (404) error. Since TheHobbyBlogger’s shared hosting plan does not come with a dedicated IP address, only HostGator’s name servers know how to access THB’s web files.

Change domain name servers from registrar to Hostgator

Log into Namecheap and select “Manage Domains” from the “My Account “tab.

Namecheap Home Page

Then on the left, click on “Transfer DNS to Webhost.”

Namecheap: Modify Domain

On Namecheap’s “Custom Domain Name Server Information” page, you need to enter at least two nameserver addresses. Reference the “Your Account Info” email from Hostgator for the two nameserver addresses and enter them in the first two boxes. Make sure you select the “Specify Custom DNS Servers” option.

Specify Nameservers

It might take up to a couple days for the changes to propagate throughout the internet, so don’t worry if your domain name doesn’t lead to your website right away. Now let’s install WordPress.

WordPress installation and setup on HostGator

Like many other shared-hosting providers, HostGator allows you to easily install WordPress. In cPanel’s “Software/Services” section, click the QuickInstall icon.

cPanel Software/Services

In the “Blog Software” section at the top left of the page, click on “WordPress” and then click the “Continue” button.

WordPress QuickInstall

In the WordPress install panel, select the blog’s domain name using the dropdown menu. Unless you’ve added add-on or subdomains, your only choice will be the primary domain that you specified when you signed up for your hosting account. We’ll talk about the subfolder field in a just a minute.

WordPress Install Options

The “Admin email” and “First Name” and “Last Name” fields are used to setup your blog’s administrator account. If you’re not installing WordPress on your account’s primary domain (e.g. an add-on or subdomain), then it won’t ask you for the blog title or your first and last name.

Installing WordPress in a subfolder

The WordPress install panel also allows you to put all of your blog’s files in a subfolder. If you’re blog is going to be the only website on your hosting account, don’t worry about specifying a subfolder. If, however, you’re blog is going to be a component of a larger website on this account, and/or you’re going to use this account for multiple websites and blogs, I recommend using a subfolder for each blog for two reasons:

  1. Security – Without a subfolder, a hacker will know to look for your WordPress files in your site’s root folder. So it’s easy to create an automated attack that looks for www.yourblogsite.com/wp-login.php. If you install WordPress in a subfolder like www.yourblogsite.com/blog_files, you make an automated attack more difficult for would-be attackers.
  2. Clean and organized root folder – The first time I installed WordPress, I just put it in my web root folder (the public_html/ folder that’s in my account’s home folder). That ended up putting thirty-four WordPress-related files and folders in the web root folder. If I added any more domains to my account, I’d have trouble seeing those domain folders among the sea of WordPress files in there. Using subfolder for WordPress eliminates this mess. Note: Even if your blog is in a subfolder, you can still setup WordPress so that your blog will still appear at www.yourblogsite.com.

Click the “Install Now!” button. Once the installation finishes, you’ll see a “Congratulations” message followed by the username and password for the Admin account.

I used a subfolder for The Hobby Blogger’s site, so my next post will show how to set up WordPress in that scenario.

Article by Bryan Kerr

I love breaking down the techie side of blogging into easy-to-understand tutorials. That's mostly what you'll find here on The Hobby Blogger.

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