Installing Elgg on 1and1 Shared Hosting

1. Make sure whatever directory you are installing to is running PHP5. See this page: for more information.

2. FTP all the files up to your 1and1 hosting directory. I went with version 1.7.3 available at

3. Create a 1and1 database for your Elgg installation.

1and1 Database Setup

4. Write down all your database information: username, password, database name, and host name.

elgg 1and1 elgg database information, database name, password, location, username

5. Create your “Data” directory outside of your Elgg installation directory and open up the permissions on it. If you SSH into your hosting environment, you can CHMOD 0777 the data directory. If you FTP to your site via Windows, just right click on the folder and set the permissions.

Changing Elgg Data Directory Permissions via FTP

6. Manually edit the “engine/settings.php” file. I think the wizard will now walk you through these settings, but I like doing this the old fashioned way. This is where you tell Elgg how to connect to your database. Enter your credentials from step 4 above. Make sure you don’t leave the brackets “{}” in there. (Seems like there were multiple brackets which might lead one to believe they should only remove one set.)

The Elgg Engine Settings PHP File Configuration

7. Set up your .htaccess file (VERY IMPORTANT). It seems like this is where most people blow it. It’s just an htaccess file. It can’t hurt you. Remember that you are setting it up in relation to where you’re installing it and not your root directory. For instance, I have it set to “/elgg/” and not “/hobbub/elgg/” as I have it sitting in a subdirectory of this site.

Elgg htaccess file mod rewrite configuration

8. Okay, you should now be ready to set up your site. Try navigating to you site via the browser of your choice. If you did everything correctly, you should see a page like the image below. You’re still not done. The installer makes a best attempt to figure out your settings, but it is still up to you to verify them. In particular, my “site url” was wrong and had to be edited. The “full path to the location where files will be uploaded….” is really looking for the path to the  ”data directory” you set up in #5 above. I just copy-pasted from the textbox above and edited the last directory.

Instal Screen for Elgg on 1and1 Hosting

Note about Elgg Email on 1and1 servers: the Elgg registration process sends a “verify your account” email. These emails seem to get spam filtered (no matter how I changed the content) when coming from an address attached to my domain like ** – but an address like “” (sent from same server) made it through all the spam filters. This is anecdotal – no real research – perhaps subject of a future post…

9. Set up your admin account and you are done!

10. “I did everything you said and it didn’t work!” Troubleshooting is what makes this kind of stuff fun, right?

Did everything get FTP’d to your site? When I sent the zip file via command line and unzipped via SSH I had no issues. When using the Windows drag files and drop em FTP method I timed out and had to re-upload. Just for kicks, it failed when it was trying to copy the “language” directory. I hit the site to see what would happen and got the following error:

Elgg Installation Problem Files Not Fully Transferred

“Everything transferred, but it still doesn’t work!” I’m willing to bet at about 9-1 odds that it is your htaccess file and mod rewrite. If you can hit the install.php file but you’re getting 404 errors when you try to continue, or you’re getting 404 errors in general, it is probably due to Mod Rewrite. (The install.php sits in the root and doesn’t rely on Mod Rewrite.)

Final Note: Beware of the “Action” gotcha. When troubleshooting an ELGG install, first timers almost invariably stumble on this – and it’s natural. “The thought process is: I’m getting a 404, so the page doesn’t exist, what is the url?” You then see in your browser that it is attempting to navigate to “yoursite/action” or “/elgg/action/blahblah”. You then look at the Elgg directory structure and notice that there isn’t an “action” directory, but there is an “ACTIONS” directory. You then curse the Elgg developers as idiots and wonder how there could be such a silly error in a release.

STOP. It’s supposed to be that way. It’s your Mod Rewrite that’s bad. These Elgg guys must have a great sense of humor. The internet is littered with people who’ve stumbled onto this “revelation” and given up. If anything, it keeps competing sites down. Check your htaccess file. It’s okay? Check it again. Good luck.

Elgg Action Directory Doesn't Exist

Wise Man Say, “Change One Thing at a Time to Troubleshoot.”

Oh yeah, the site is at – feel free to check it out if you want to see what a base install looks like. I don’t even mind if you get yourself a couple backlinks, just don’t spam it up too much. Make It funny.

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