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How to set up Drupal

Drupal sits alongside WordPress and Joomla as one of the best known Web Content Management Systems (CMS). Drupal is much-loved by Web design companies for making it easy to create high-quality sites.

Drupal is the platform of choice for a number of high-profile websites. Perhaps the most impressive is the site for the White House, but Drupal also powers sites for Fedex, Nasa and Amnesty International.

Drupal is powerful enough to use for any website project, and is particularly suited to large “portal” style sites.

If you are already familiar with WordPress, then it’s fair to say that Drupal is a little more feature-rich “out of the box.” It also has a slightly steeper learning curve than WordPress. Drupal is one of the most long-established content management systems out there, and one of the top five most popular CMS platforms according to W3Tech. In total, it acts as the backbone for over 22 million websites.

Here we are going to show you the basics of setting up your own Drupal website.

What You Need

You will need your own domain and Web hosting account upon which to install Drupal. If you don’t have your domain yet, check out our step by step tutorial on obtaining domain and hosting services from HostGator here. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this guide easily later.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we are working on the assumption that you are using HostGator for hosting services. If you are not, don’t worry. HostGator uses cPanel, which is the most popular Web hosting control panel in the world. Many other Web hosting services use it too, so there is every chance that you’ll still be able to follow this guide.

We are also going to show you how to use the automated installation method via cPanel, rather than doing everything manually. There’s no real need to get your hands dirty when you can spend literally five minutes getting everything done!

Okay, let’s get started.

1. Go to your cPanel login link and enter your username and password. This information is provided to you by your hosting service provider in an email when you first sign up.

Main panel

Even though the wealth of cPanel options can seem initially daunting to novices, it is actually very easy to use. Stay tuned on Make a Website for a comprehensive tutorial on cPanel that will follow soon.

2. Locate the “Software/Services” group of icons on the right. You will have to scroll down a fair way to find it.

3. Look for QuickInstall and Fantastico De Luxe, both of which are excellent automated installers for Web applications. The only trouble is that some applications available on QuickInstall aren’t available via Fantastico De Luxe, and vice versa.


We are going to use Fantastico De Luxe to install Drupal for the purposes of this tutorial. However, it’s fair to say that the process is practically the same regardless of which you use.

4. Click into Fantastico De Luxe, and look for Drupal under “Content Management” on the left hand navigation menu. Click on it, and then click “New Installation.”

5. If you have setup your domain properly, you will see it in the drop down list. The blank field afterwards lets you specify a subdirectory in which to install Drupal (i.e. www.yourdomain.com/drupal-here).

We will assume for the purposes of this guide that you want to place your Drupal site in the root directory so it appears as soon as people visit your Web address. It’s unlikely you would want any other configuration.

6. In the “Admin access data” section, key in your desired username and password.

7. In the “base configuration” section, enter a live email address you use. It is essential you have access to this mailbox, as all the details of your installation will be emailed to you.

Install Drupal - Stage 1

8. The second stage of the installation will show you the MySQL database information that Fantastico De Luxe automatically creates for your new Drupal installation. Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand it, but do make a note of the details in case you need them later. Click on “Finish Installation” to continue to step 3.

8. Once the installation is complete, the installer will confirm all the details. You can also input your email address so you get a summary via email. We recommend doing this so you can keep the information safe somewhere.

Install Drupal - Stage 3

Congratulations! Your Drupal installation is now complete, and you should be able to see a link to your new Drupal site.

Please note that if you’ve installed Drupal very shortly after arranging your registration and hosting, and receive a “page not found” error when you try to access the site, you needn’t be alarmed. Your domain registration needs time to propagate across all the global DNS servers. The process can take anything from a few hours to 48 hours. If you want to learn more about this, click on this link.

9. Once you can access your Drupal site, you should see a login screen like the one below. You can access the administration interface by entering the login details you chose back in step 6.

Drupal Home

You can now begin to customise and build your Drupal site. The next steps are beyond the scope of this article, but more tutorials will follow here soon. In the meantime, you can access the Drupal documentation here.

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Author Picture Written by Pete Zaborszky
Pete runs Make a website and wants to get detailed information to the readers. He is dedicated to being the best and providing the highest quality at anything he does. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+