Moodle Installation Guide

Moodle Installation Guide for First Time Users

Understanding Moodle

Moodle is the short name for Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. It is an open-source, free e-learning management system platform designed to help educators and learners all over the world. It is currently the most popular learning platform with more than 68 million users across the globe. Since the development of Moodle in 2002, hundreds of educators and learners found great benefits in its ability to make the content collaborative and interactive.

The core of Moodle has a solid set of learning and teaching tools and thousands of community contributors who helped push the product forward. Anyone can freely download and install Moodle, but there are necessary resources required to maintain an efficient system.

System Requirements

In order to get the maximum benefits from this Moodle installation guide, you must have the required system. Primarily, Moodle is designed in Linux using either PHP, MySQL, or Apache platforms. However, it is tested on other operating system such as Mac OS X, Windows XP, PostgresSQL, and Netware 6. In order to install Moodle on Windows with PHP, you must have the following:

  • Web server software, preferably one that supports PHP
  • PHP scripting language, preferably version 4.1.0 or higher
  • A functional database server that supports Moodle

Installing Moodle

This Moodle installation guide will run you through several steps to complete the installation for Windows with PHP.

1. Download the files

You may download the files from Moodle’s website. After downloading, you will notice a Moodle directory containing various files and folders. You can choose to place the entire folder in your web server’s document directory or straight into the main server’s document directory. If you have downloaded Moodle to your local computer, it is best to upload the entire archive directory as one file into your website.

2. Create config.php by running the installer script

Generally, Moodle will detect the necessary configuration that will lead you through some easy-to-follow screens to create a new file configuration. Moodle will write the file in the default location at the end of the process. If you want to save the file in another location, you can just press the button the given screen and choose the directory you want.

If the installer encounters problems during installation, it will give suggestion how to fix your server environment. We do not need to go into the details of those errors in this Moodle installation guide because the suggestions from the installer are usually sufficient to fix any problems encountered.

3. Fix the general server settings

Make sure that the server is set to support index.php in the default page. This is probably in addition to default.htm and index.html. For efficiency, make sure that the index.php is in the list, preferably towards the beginning Moodle generally requires several active PHP settings for the installation to work. However, most servers will have these in the default settings.

4. Create a database

You need to make an empty Moodle database in your database system that will have exclusive access to that database. Although it is not recommended for a production system, you can use the “root” user for a test server. For a functional database system, this Moodle installation guide does recommend the use of the “root” because you might run the risk of exposing your passwords to hackers, compromising your entire database.

If you are installing this program using a web host, your host will, most likely, provide you with a control panel interface so you can create your database easily. The CPanel system is the most popular control panel interface.

To create your database, just follow these simple steps:

  •  Click the DATABASE icon.
  •  In the database field, type Moodle and click ADD DATABASE.
  •  In the corresponding fields, type your username and a unique password and click ADD USER.
  •  Using the icon, create a new user account by clicking the ADD USER TO DATABASE icon.
  •  Usually, both the username and database names are prefixed by your chosen CPanel account name. Make sure to use the full names when entering this information into the installer.

5. Create a data directory

In order to store files, such as photos and course documents that you have uploaded, Moodle needs some space on the hard disk of your server. Although most Moodle installation guide suggests that the Moodle installer will automatically create this directory on your hard drive, you may need to create it manually, if the installer fails to do so.

6. Make further configurations

If you have created the basic config.php correctly, you will be taken to the ADMIN PAGE if you try to access the front page of your site. When accessing this ADMIN PAGE for the first time, you will be presented with a GPL Shrink-wrap Agreement, which you need to agree before you can proceed with the setup. Moodle will set up your database and create several tables to store your data.

Once the process is completed, you will receive the message: MAIN DATABASES SET UP SUCCESSFULLY.

7. It is important to setup a cron service

Some Moodle modules would require continuing checks to perform the task efficiently. From time to time, Moodle may need to check the discussion forum so that copies of posts can be mailed to the subscribers. The script that performs this function is located in the administrative directory called cron.php.

However, you need to set up a mechanism so that it can run regularly because it cannot run by itself. You can choose the frequency of this action, perhaps every five or ten minutes. The cron.php will serve as the heartbeat so that the script can perform the functions defined in every module at the specified periods.

After completing the steps in this Moodle installation guide, you can now create a new course. Fill out the form and pay special attention to the format of the course. Although the most common installation issues are covered in this guide, you may seek assistance from the Moodle Help Team, if you will have trouble following this Moodle installation guide.


Nicole Lewis is the Lead Author & Editor of MyLMStips. MyLMStips is dedicated to providing the most engaging topics, information, tips and tricks surrounding Moodle®. It's a place where Moodle® users can receive guidance on how to get the most out of it and increase their productivity and progress.