Installing Moodle

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Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 1.9. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Installing Moodle.

First, don't panic! F1 35px.png

This guide explains how to install Moodle for the first time. There are links to other pages that go into more detail and try to cover the majority of possible web server setups.

Second, you may want to consider reviewing Finding and Selecting A Web Host to consider whether you really want to install Moodle yourself. If you decide to move forward with an installation, please read all the installation documentation carefully.

Third, if you still have a problem for which you can't find the answer, please see the Using Moodle Installation problems forum where there are many people who can help you.


Moodle is primarily developed in Linux using Apache, MySQL and PHP (also sometimes known as the LAMP platform). It is also regularly tested with Windows XP/2000/2003 (WAMP), Solaris 10 (Sparc and x64), Mac OS X and Netware 6 operating systems. Support for PostgreSQL, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server is also available.

The requirements for Moodle are as follows:


  • Disk space: 160MB free (min). You will require more free space to store your teaching materials.
  • Memory: 256MB (min), 1GB (recommended). The general rule of thumb is that Moodle can support 50 concurrent users for every 1GB of RAM, but this will vary depending on your specific hardware and software combination.
    • This includes hosting limits of PHP or MySQL on a hosting service.
    • The capacity can limit the number of users your Moodle site can handle. See User site capacities


Moodle requires a web server environment and will run in Apache and IIS easily. Moodle should run in any server environment that supports PHP.

Moodle is written in the PHP scripting language. Currently, Moodle v 1.9.x requires a minimum of PHP v4.3.0 to run. Moodle 2.0 needs PHP v 5.2.8. There have been some issues with deprecated tags in PHP v 5.3.0 which have a negative impact on a number of PHP Apps, Moodle not exempted, so please ensure your PHP version is later than v 5.3.2 if using a v5.3.x. There has also been reported some issues installing Moodle with PHP-Accelerator. See the PHP Moodle version requirements here PHP settings by Moodle version for more information.

Moodle will use MySQL, MSSQL, PostgreSQL or Oracle as a database, but no others. There is some real issues in the interoperability interface of different databases, which complicates the whole issue. For version information, you can go to the Download page and that will describe version requirements for available packages.

If you want to run Moodle on your own computer, please see Installing Apache, MySQL and PHP for step-by-step instructions for installation on most popular platforms.

Download and copy files into place

There are two ways to get Moodle, either as a compressed package from or via CVS.

After downloading and unpacking the archive, or checking out the files via CVS, you will be left with a directory called "moodle", containing a number of files and folders.

For the standard package, you can either place the whole folder in your web server documents directory, in which case the site will be located at, or you can copy all the contents straight into the main web server documents directory, in which case the site will be simply

Tip: If you are downloading Moodle to your local computer and then uploading it to your web site, it is usually better to upload the whole archive as one file, and then do the unpacking on the server. Even web hosting interfaces like cPanel allow you to uncompress archives in the "File Manager".

If you're interested, Moodle site moodle directory gives a quick summary of the contents of the Moodle folder, to help get you oriented.

NOTE: The "connectionless" nature of the Internet, HTML and server-side file generation allows you to simply copy over critical files without having to uninstall then reinstall. When you do this, go to the Administration > Notifications page to see if any change has been properly registered within Moodle. Time your upgrades to periods of minimal activity, safer that way.

Setting-up your web server

You need to create a blank database for Moodle to use and finally create a directory on your hard disk for Moodle to save your materials and other files you upload into your courses before you can start the installation process.

Create empty database

You need to create an empty database (eg "moodle") in your database system along with a special user (for example "moodleuser") that has access to that database (and that database only). You could use the "root" user if you wanted to for a test server, but this is not recommended for a production system: if hackers manage to discover the password then your whole database system would be at risk, rather than just one database.

For more help with this see Create Moodle site database.

If you are using a webhost, they will probably have a control panel web interface for you to create your database.

The cPanel system is one of the most popular of these. To create a database using cPanel:

  1. Click on the MySQL Databases icon.
  2. Type moodle in the New Database field and click Create Database.
  3. Type a username and password (not one you use elsewhere) in the respective fields and click Create User.
    Note that the username and database names may be prefixed by your cPanel account name and an underscore, and truncated to 16 characters. When entering this information into the Moodle installer - use the full names.
  4. Now use the Add Users to Databases button and give this new user account ALL rights to the new database.

Create the data directory

Moodle will also need some space on your server's hard disk to store uploaded files, such as course documents and user pictures. The Moodle installer tries hard to create the moodledata directory for you but if it fails then you will have to create a directory for this purpose manually.

Security warning: For security purposes, it is CRITICAL that this directory is NOT accessible directly via the web. The easiest way to do this is to simply locate it OUTSIDE the web site root directory (it is the folder that the main part of your URL -that is, the part up to the first single / - points to; for example, in, it is

If you don't protect the data directory from direct web access, anybody will be able to impersonate any user of your Moodle site (including the admin user!!!), and all of your course materials will be available to the web at large.

See Creating Moodle site data directory for more information about security in creating a data directory in CPanel in webhosts.


If you run into problems when installing Moodle you might have to tweak some of the settings for your Apache server or your PHP installation.

Start Moodle install

There are two basic ways to install Moodle: Most Moodlers are used to the installer script but with Moodle 2.0 you may install it from the command line.

Install with installer script

To run the installer script (install.php), just try to access your Moodle main URL using a web browser, or access http://yourserver/install.php directly.

(The Installer will try to set a session cookie. If you get a popup warning in your browser make sure you accept that cookie!)

Moodle will detect that configuration is necessary and will lead you through some screens to help you create a new configuration file called config.php. At the end of the process Moodle will try and write the file into the right location, otherwise you can press a button to download it from the installer and then upload config.php into the main Moodle directory on the server.

Along the way the installer will test your server environment and give you suggestions about how to fix any problems. For most common issues these suggestions should be sufficient, but if you get stuck, check in the Installation Forum for more help.

Go to the admin page to continue configuration

Once the basic config.php has been correctly created in the previous step, trying to access the front page of your site will take you to the "admin" page for the rest of the configuration.

The first time you access this admin page, you will be presented with a GPL "shrink wrap" agreement with which you must agree before you can continue with the setup.

Now Moodle will start setting up your database and creating tables to store data. First, the main database tables are created. You should see a number of SQL statements followed by status messages. You should see SUCCESS next to each one until you see "Main databases set up successfully."

Tip: If you don't see these, then there must have been some problem with the database or the configuration settings you defined in config.php. Please see Install Moodle with installer script for more details and issues.

Scroll down the very bottom of the page and press the "Continue" link.

You should now see a form where you can define more configuration variables for your installation, such as the default language, SMTP hosts and so on. Don't worry too much about getting everything right just now - you can always come back and edit these later on using the admin interface. The defaults are designed to be useful and secure for most sites. Scroll down to the bottom and click "Save changes".

Next you will see more pages that print lots of status messages as they set up all the tables required by the various Moodle module. As before, they should all be green.

Scroll down the very bottom of the page and press the "Continue" link.

The next page is a form where you can define parameters for your Moodle site and the front page, such as the name, format, description and so on. Fill this out (you can always come back and change these later) and then press "Save changes".

Finally, you will then be asked to create a top-level administration user for future access to the admin pages. Fill out the details with your own name, email etc and then click "Save changes". Not all the fields are required, but if you miss any important fields you'll be re-prompted for them. You can change this information later via the User profile.

Make sure you remember the username and password you chose for the administration user account, as they will be necessary to access the administration page in future.

TIP: If for any reason your install is interrupted, or there is a system error of some kind that prevents you from logging in using the admin account, you can usually log in using the default username of "admin", with password "admin".)

Once successful, you will be sent to the home page of your new site! Please note the Site administration block on the left with links. These items are only visible to you because you are logged in as the admin user. All your further administration of Moodle can now be done using this block.

Installing Moodle using command line

Moodle 2.0Installing Moodle using command line is recommended only for experienced server administrators. Please note you have to execute the installation script as the same user used for apache. Command line installation is not compatible with Windows platforms.

$cd /var/www/html/moodle/admin/cli

More information about the options can be found using

$sudo -u wwwrun /usr/bin/php install.php --help

Last tasks

Set up cron

Moodle's background tasks (e.g. sending out forum emails and performing course backups) are performed by a script which you can set to execute at specific times of the day. This is known as a cron script. Please refer to the Cron instructions.

Set up backups

Please refer to the backup instructions.

Send a test email

Create a test user with a valid email address and send them a message. Do they receive an email copy of the message? If not then your email server and/or Moodle email settings may be misconfigured (see Email Processing for details.

Create a new course

Congratulations on setting up your Moodle site! You can now create a new course and have a play ;-)

See also

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