How to Install a Script on Your Website

You can install scripts to your website either through your control panel or by downloading them from the web and installing them manually. Each method has both advantages and disadvantages, but where possible, install scripts through your control panel.

How to install a script from your control panel

Installing scripts safely is easy, when you know how. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll breeze through it in seconds. Most control panels use either the Softaculous or Fantastico script installer systems, but they are not necessarily labeled that way.

If you install a script into the root of your hosting space, it could overwrite any files you already have in there. So be careful where you install your scripts.

  1. Look through the script installation area of your control panel to find the script you want to install.

  2. Click the script icon or name to view a page that gives you a little more information about the script and what it can do for you.

  3. Click on the Install tab.

    If your control panel is using the Softaculous installer, you see an Install tab at the top of the screen. Clicking on the tab takes you to the Install screen. Other installers also have an Install tab or button prominently displayed.

  4. Install your script in a test folder.

    As part of the install process, you should be asked which folder you want to install your script into. Softaculous labels it In Directory. Type a new folder name into this box. At this stage, you might want to call it xxx-test (where xxx is the name of the script). You can then easily find where your test installations for each script are.

  5. Complete any other information the installer asks you for.

    This might include a username and password (don’t forget to note what they are) and your site name.

  6. Click the Install button at the bottom of the page.

After you’ve picked the script or scripts you need for your site, run the install again and install a fresh copy in the folder you are actually going to use it in and start customizing it to fit your needs.

How to install a downloadable script

Installing scripts that you find online is a little trickier than using the installers in the control panel, but don’t get discouraged. It’s easy enough when you know how.

You need the following things to install a downloaded script:

  • The script downloaded from its online location.

  • A File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client and your FTP details.

  • For some cases, a manually created database.

When you find the script you want to test or use, the website you find it on should have installation instructions. Here are some things you need to check:

  • Server requirements: Most script authors tell you the minimum server specifications required to run their scripts. If you aren't sure what your server’s specifications are, contact your web host to find out.

  • Find the installation instructions: If there are no installation instructions on the website, double-click the file after you have downloaded it to your computer to open the file in your file manager. You should see a text file labeled something like InstallInstructions or Readme.txt.

    If you can find no installation instructions at all, it’s probably best to steer clear of using the script. The authors of well-written scripts generally take the time to document their work. Scripts where the author hasn’t taken the time to write instructions are often more sloppily written — and potentially harmful.

  • Is the script safe? If you install a script on your site that causes the server problems, your host may delete the script without warning you, or the host may even suspend or cancel your account. Try to first find some reviews of scripts you are going to test to make sure other users haven’t had problems with them.

  • Download it in the right format: Most scripts can be downloaded in multiple formats. If you are unfamiliar with the terms .tar and .gz, then the best format to download is a .zip file. You can open these files directly on both PCs and Macs.

Although the installation instructions differ between scripts, the following directions are basically what they are going to tell you to do:

  1. Download the script .zip file from the website.

    The zip file is like a suitcase. Everything you need is packed into it. Downloading a script is normally as simple as clicking a Download button on the website where you found it.

  2. Extract the files from within the .zip file.

    In Windows, double-click the file to open it and then click Extract All from the menu at the top of the screen.

  3. Upload the files to your hosting space.

    You need to create a folder and use FTP to do this.

  4. Navigate to a certain file to activate or install the script.

    The instructions may tell you to Open install.php, which means you need to open your web browser and go to http://yoursite.com/your_script_folder/install.php.

There may also be other instructions about tasks you need to do, like create a database and edit a file to put the details of your database in. For these, you need to either use the database wizard in your control panel or manually create a database.

Typically, .tar and .gz files are smaller than .zip files, which means faster downloads. You can also open them on Linux machines. If you don’t have the choice of downloading a .zip file and you don’t have a way to open the file, you can download free .zip extractors, such as 7-Zip, which will open it for you.

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