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Joomla installation and setup guide - essential steps to do


Joomla is a free-for-everyone, open-source content management system (CMS) that allows users to create and manage digital content on websites without requiring deep coding knowledge. Born in 2005 as a fork from Mambo, another popular CMS of its time, Joomla has grown exponentially. Today, it's the second most popular CMS in the world, right after WordPress. From small personal blogs to expansive e-commerce sites and government portals, Joomla's versatility has made it a preferred choice for many.

Joomla's Significance in the Web Hosting World

In web hosting, the choice of a CMS plays a pivotal role. With its out-of-the-box features, robust extensions, and vast community of developers and users, Joomla offers a blend of simplicity and functionality. Web hosting providers recognize this demand and often provide tailored hosting solutions, known as "Joomla hosting." These solutions ensure optimal performance for Joomla-based websites and usually come with features like one-click installations, automatic updates, and Joomla-specific security measures.

Why Proper Installation and Setup Matters?

Setting up Joomla is the foundation of any successful website built on the platform. A flawed setup can lead to multiple issues ranging from website performance glitches to severe security vulnerabilities. For instance, improper database configurations can make a site susceptible to SQL injection attacks.

Moreover, with the proper settings, a website may be SEO-friendly, leading to increased visibility in search engines.

Understanding and executing the proper installation and setup process ensures your Joomla website runs smoothly, securely, and efficiently. This guide will walk you through these critical initial steps, paving the way for a successful online presence.

Prerequisites for Installing Joomla

Before diving into the actual installation process of Joomla, it's crucial to understand and ensure that specific prerequisites are met. That provides a smooth installation process and optimal performance for your Joomla website. Let's break down these prerequisites in detail:

System Requirements for Joomla

Like any software, Joomla has specific requirements that your server must meet to run smoothly.

PHP Version: Joomla requires a specific version of PHP to operate. For instance, while Joomla 3.9 might work well with PHP 7.2 or later, Joomla 4 might demand a higher version like PHP 7.4 or above. Always consult Joomla's official documentation to determine the current PHP version requirement.

Database Support: Joomla supports several databases, but MySQL is the most commonly used one. Ensure your hosting environment supports the required version of MySQL. Other supported databases include PostgreSQL and SQL Server.

Other Requirements: This includes support for modules and libraries like XML, Zlib, GD, etc. These are essential for various functionalities within Joomla.

Web Hosting Considerations: Linux vs. Windows Hosting for Joomla

Choosing the right hosting environment is crucial for adequately functioning your Joomla site.

Linux Web Hosting is the most popular choice for Joomla and other CMS platforms. Linux hosting environments usually have Apache web servers, highly compatible with Joomla. It's also often considered more stable and provides various tools and features tailored for Joomla users.

Windows Web Hosting: Joomla can also run on Windows servers using IIS. However, some configurations might be needed, and it's generally considered a less popular option for Joomla hosting. If you're used to Windows environments or have other applications that require Windows, this might be a consideration.

When deciding between Linux and Windows, consider compatibility, ease of use, and the support you'll get from your hosting provider. In most cases, especially for beginners, Linux hosting is recommended for Joomla.

Necessary Tools for Joomla Installation

These are the essential tools you'll need to have or access during the Joomla installation process:

FTP Client: An FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client, like FileZilla or Cyberduck, allows you to transfer the Joomla installation files from your computer to your web hosting server.

Web Browser: Any modern browser (like Chrome, Firefox, Safari) will do. You'll access Joomla's web-based installation interface and make configurations here.

Database Access: Typically, web hosting providers offer a control panel (like cPanel or Plesk) where you can set up and manage databases. You'll need to access this to create a database for your Joomla installation.

Step-by-Step Joomla Installation Process

Downloading the Joomla Package

Always download the Joomla package from its official website, which is joomla.org. That ensures you get a secure and authentic version of the CMS, free from any modifications or malware.

Selecting the Right Version:

Joomla's website typically offers multiple versions for download. You'll find stable releases and some beta or development releases. For most users, especially beginners, it's recommended to download the latest stable release. It's the most tested version and usually resolves all known bugs and issues.

Download Process:

On the Joomla website, navigate to the download section and select the desired version. Click the download button/link and save the ZIP file to your computer.

Uploading Joomla to Web Server

Using an FTP Client:

Open your FTP client (like FileZilla). Enter your FTP credentials (FTP server/host, username, and password), which you would have received from your hosting provider. Once connected, navigate to the directory where you want to install Joomla.

Destination Folder Considerations:

Decide whether to install Joomla in the root directory (e.g., example.com) or a subdirectory (e.g., example.com/blog). Navigate to the chosen directory in your FTP client.

Unpacking and Folder Structure:

Upload the Joomla ZIP file to your chosen directory. Most hosting services have a feature in the control panel that lets you extract ZIP files. After uploading, extract the Joomla ZIP file to your hosting control panel. That will create a set of Joomla folders and files in your chosen directory.

Creating a MySQL Database for Joomla

Accessing the Hosting Control Panel:

Log into your hosting control panel. Look for the "Databases" section.

Setting up a New Database:

Click on something akin to "Create New Database" (the exact wording might differ based on the control panel). Please assign a name to your database and create it.

User Privileges and Security:

You must assign a user to Joomla to communicate with the database. Create a new user or give an existing one to the database. Ensure this user has all necessary privileges (like "All Privileges" in cPanel). Always choose a robust and unique password for security reasons.

Running the Joomla Web Installer

Accessing the Installation Page:

Open a web browser and navigate to where you uploaded and extracted Joomla. If it's the root directory, go to example.com; if it's a subdirectory, go to example.com/subdirectory. That will open the Joomla web installer.

Setting up Site Details:

Enter the name of your site, a description (optional), and the site/administrator email and password.

Database Connection Setup:

Fill in the database details:

Database Type: Usually MySQLi for most hosts.

Host Name: Typically localhost, but check with your host if you need clarification.

Username & Password: The user you created and associated with the Joomla database.

Database Name: The name of the database you created.

Table Prefix: Generated automatically but can be changed if desired.

Overview of Installation Steps and Finalizing:

Review all the provided information to ensure accuracy. Once everything looks good, click the "Install" button. Joomla will set itself up. After the installation, there'll be a prompt to remove the installation folder. Click to remove it for security reasons. Your Joomla website is now live!

This step-by-step installation process ensures you get Joomla up and running with the best settings and configurations. As you get familiar with the platform, you can explore its many features and extend its capabilities.

Essential Joomla Post-Installation Setup Steps

Once Joomla is installed, key configurations and settings must be implemented to customize the site and optimize its functionalities. Let's delve deeper into these essential post-installation steps:

Joomla Dashboard Introduction

Navigating the Administrator Dashboard:

After installation, you can access the Joomla administrator dashboard by adding /administrator to your site URL, like example.com/administrator. You'll log in using the admin credentials you set during installation. The dashboard is the control center of your Joomla site, housing various tools, settings, and features.

Essential Components and Features:

The dashboard is organized into different sections:

Control Panel: Offers quick access to commonly used functions.

Content: Where you manage articles, categories, and media.

Menus: For managing the site's navigation.

Components: Built-in tools and services.

Extensions: For adding functionalities through plugins, modules, and components.

Users: For managing user accounts and roles.

System: Holds global configuration settings and system information.

Basic Configuration and Site Settings

Setting up Site Name, Email, and SEO Settings:

Navigate to System > Global Configuration. Here, you can modify your site's name, set a global site email, and adjust SEO settings like URL rewriting for cleaner URLs.

Timezone, Language, and Frontend Settings:

In the same Global Configuration area, you can select your site's timezone, define the default language, and choose default settings for the frontend appearance.

User Management

Creating User Groups:

Joomla offers a flexible user management system. Navigate to Users > Groups > Add New Group to create user groups like Editors, Authors, or custom groups that cater to your site's requirements.

Setting up User Permissions:

Assign specific permissions to user groups. For instance, you might allow only Editors and above to publish content. You can fine-tune these settings for each group.

Importance of User Role Hierarchy:

Properly setting user roles and permissions ensures your site runs securely. By having a hierarchy, you control who can access and modify your site's content and settings, preventing unintentional changes or security breaches.

Joomla Template Management and Setup

Choosing the Right Template:

Templates determine your site's appearance. Joomla has a few default templates, but countless others are free and premium online.

Installing and Activating Templates:

Once you find a template you like, you can install it via Extensions > Manage > Install. After installation, go to Extensions > Templates to set your new template as default.

Basic Customization:

Many templates offer built-in customization options. You can adjust colors, fonts, layout settings, and more to fit your site's aesthetic and branding.

Extensions: Modules, Plugins, and Components

Overview of Joomla Extensions:

Extensions enhance your Joomla site's functionality. They come in three main types:

Components: Complex extensions that act like mini-applications.

Modules: Blocks of content or features can be placed in various positions.

Plugins: Functions that trigger based on events, like user login.

Installing Necessary Extensions:

Similar to templates, extensions can be installed via Extensions > Manage > Install. Always ensure that you install extensions from trusted sources to avoid security vulnerabilities.

Managing and Updating Extensions:

Go to Extensions > Manage > Manage to see all installed extensions. Here, you can enable, disable, or uninstall them. Regularly check for updates to ensure they're compatible with the latest Joomla version and free from known issues.

Post-installation steps shape your Joomla site's look, functionality, and security. Understanding and utilizing the available tools and settings ensures a robust, efficient, customized digital presence.

Security Considerations for New Joomla Sites

Website security should be a main priority for every website owner. With cyber threats evolving rapidly, protecting your Joomla website from potential risks is vital. Let's examine some of the primary security considerations and practices for newly launched Joomla sites:

Regular Backups

Importance of Backups:

Regular backups act as a safety net. If your site encounters hacking, server crashes, or unintended changes, a backup allows you to restore your website Joomla CMS to a previous state without losing valuable data.

Tools and Plugins for Joomla Backups:

While there are many backup solutions, some popular Joomla-specific backup extensions include:

Akeeba Backup: A comprehensive backup component, Akeeba allows you to create a full backup of your site and restore it on any server.

Backup! Pro: Another reliable backup solution with options for site restoration.

Joomla Updates

Keeping Joomla Core, Extensions, and Templates Up-to-Date:

Running the latest versions ensures you benefit from the most recent security patches, feature expansions, and bug fixes. Outdated versions can have vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit.

You can check for Joomla updates by going to Components > Joomla Update. Similarly, navigate to Extensions > Manage > Update for extensions and templates.

Setting Up Notifications for Updates:

It's crucial to be aware of when updates are available. Joomla's default settings typically notify you in the admin dashboard when there's an update. However, extensions like "Akeeba Admin Tools" can be configured to send email notifications about pending updates.

Security Extensions and Plugins

Recommended Security Tools for Joomla:

Beyond regular updates and backups, several security extensions can further fortify your Joomla website:

Akeeba Admin Tools: This provides tools to enhance site security, including firewall functions, file change scans, and database optimization.

RSFirewall!: One of the most advanced Joomla security services, RSFirewall! offers a firewall, malware scanning, and protection against common vulnerabilities.

JHackGuard: Developed to protect Joomla websites from hacking attempts, this plugin filters input data and includes some .htaccess optimizations.

Configuring Basic Security Settings:

Once you've chosen a security tool, it's essential to configure its settings for optimal protection. That might include:

Enabling a firewall.

Setting up regular security scans.

Blocking suspicious IP addresses.

Tweaking advanced settings based on your website's specific needs.

While Joomla is a robust and secure CMS out of the box, the dynamic nature of the internet means threats are constantly evolving. By ensuring regular backups, keeping everything updated, and utilizing specialized security tools, you can maintain a secure environment for your Joomla site.


Setting up a Joomla website may seem daunting initially, but with each step, you lay a strong foundation for a robust online platform. Let's briefly recap and look ahead:

Recap of the Essential Joomla Steps:

Downloading the Joomla Package: Starting with genuine software ensures a secure base.

Uploading Joomla to Your Web Server: Transferring and setting up the core files to make your site live.

Creating a MySQL Database: Your site's data and content backbone.

Running the Joomla Web Installer: Merging the site with its database, solidifying the website's operational status.

Encouraging Users to Explore More Advanced Features:

As you become more accustomed to Joomla's interface and capabilities, a wealth of advanced features awaits your exploration. The CMS's strength lies in its adaptability and extensions. With time, you can:

Integrate Advanced Extensions: Beyond the basics, delve into plugins that offer e-commerce solutions, SEO optimization, or even membership management.

Experiment with Templates: Joomla's design ecosystem is vast. Try out different templates to change the look and feel of your site. As you grow more confident, consider customizing or creating templates to suit your unique requirements.

Dive Deeper into Configuration Settings: Joomla has many advanced configuration options beyond the foundational settings. These can help optimize your site, improve performance, and offer a better user experience.

In closing, the path to mastering Joomla is a gradual ascent. Beginning with the essentials, you've set up a firm base. As you grow more comfortable, don't hesitate to push boundaries and explore. Joomla is designed for both the novice and the expert, and as you progress, you'll discover that the platform can adapt and grow alongside you. Embrace the journey and happy website building!

Useful links / Resources

  • Joomla Documentation

  • Download Joomla

  • Joomla! Community Portal

  • Joomla Extensions

  • Joomla! Home

  • Support Article (in Spanish)

  • Support Article (in Portuguese)

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