how wordpress works. how to start a wordpress blog. how to start a blogHas it ever occurred to you “how WordPress works?” or are you trying to move your website/blog to self-hosted WordPress and you want to know the mechanism behind the scene of WordPress. We’ll like to welcome you to CMSFolks, and in this post, we will be dealing with What makes WordPress to work the way it does. At the end of this post, we believe you should understand the concepts of WordPress before you migrate your site from another platform to WordPress

WordPress is an easy content management system (CMS), though it may not be so for those who are just starting or preparing to use the blogging system. Unlike other free website builders like Google Blogger, Wix, Weebly, Shopify and other drag and drop blogging platform, WordPress is different to all of them. With WordPress, you will need to buy a subscription service from a Web hosting company, buy a domain name and so on. One of the major difference of WordPress is also that as a user, you must understand the backend concept, which is easy to learn if you can sacrifice at least 20mins of your time while other free blogging platforms like the ones earlier mentioned does not need your understanding of the backend, meaning, you cannot use WordPress without having the understanding of the backend.

Now, let’s focus on the principle behind WordPress mechanism in simple terms

How WordPress Works

Every WordPress files has the following core components

  • Core Files
  • Themes Files
  • Plugins Files
  • Database
  • Media Uploads (Optional)

When you install WordPress either on your live server or local pc, you can see all this files or folders. You can download WordPress from their official website. We’ve written a well-detailed post on how to install WordPress manually on your local machine. After WordPress installation, that is when you can install either plugins or themes. There is no how you can set up a WordPress powered site/blog without using at least a theme and several plugins.


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WordPress Core Files

WordPress core files are default files that come with every WordPress installations. They are the heartbeat of WordPress, without which WordPress can never work properly. WordPress core files include:

  • WP-Admin (Folder)
  • WP-Include (Folder)
  • WP-Content (Folder)
  • index.php
  • Licence.txt
  • Read Me.txt
  • WP-Activate.php
  • WP-Blog-Header.php
  • WP-Comments-Post.php
  • WP-Config-Sample.php
  • WP-Cron.php
  • WP-Links-OPML.php
  • WP-Load.php
  • WP-Login.php
  • WP-Mail.php
  • WP-Settings.php
  • WP-Signup.php
  • WP-Trackback.php
  • XMLRPC.php

These files come by default with every WordPress downloads. These files can be dynamic after installation. For example, the “WP-Config-Sample.php” will create a new file called “WP-Config.php” in it will your WordPress be able to connect with your “DataBase” using your ‘Database name”, “DataBase Username”, “DataBase Password”.

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Themes Files

Theme files control the display and generate the content to be displayed on the browser when the URL is requested. All themes files will be stored in the WordPress core folder “/wp-content/themes/”. Each theme will have a separate folder and contains many PHP files, at least one stylesheet, and JavaScript files.

Plugin Files

Core, theme, and database files are mandatory while plugins are optional to add additional features to your WordPress site. As WordPress has bifurcation between theme and plugins it is almost unavoidable to have plugins to add functions. For example, social sharing is not part of theme definition and hence you need a separate plugin to have good looking social sharing icons on your site. Files of all installed plugins will be stored in the core folder “/wp-admin/plugins/” and each plugin will be stored in a separate folder. Each plugin may have set of PHP, script and CSS files. The WordPress core download package will have two default plugins Akismet and Hello Dolly. The plugin “Hello Dolly” has only one “hello.php” file.

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Read about how to install WordPress Plugins


The database is the most important component of your WordPress site which has all the content and controlling parameters. Whenever a page is requested the content is retrieved based on the controlling parameters and the desired output is displayed on the browser. For example, when you create a blog post – all of its text content is stored in database tables with reference to the images and videos linked on that page.

WordPress uses MYSQL an open source tool for database creation. The database of your WordPress installation can be maintained through the hosting account using “MySQL Database” and “phpMyAdmin” tools. It is important to understand that database tables can’t be managed through FTP while core, theme and plugin files can be accessed through FTP.

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Putting Together

All four components interact with each other heavily to generate the content for the requested URL in the desired format.

The page load time depends on the number of queries sent to the database and the response time from the server. Hence, depends on the size of your site good hosting and less number of queries will increase the loading speed. Also, use of caching plugins reduces the need of interacting with these components every time by storing a static HTML copy of the page.

In contrary to free site builders where you get completely free hosting, WordPress needs a paid hosting to store all files and database. A good website needs to run on a good platform like WordPress without much restrictions on backup and functionalities. This is only possible with paid hosting and you have complete access to the files of your site. With the free site builder tools like Weebly or Wix, you will not be able to access and control server’s behavior.

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Advantages of Using Different Components

There are many advantages of keeping the four components separately which are also one of the reasons for the huge success of WordPress.

  • It is easy to add or remove additional functions through plugins without impacting the whole site.
  • You can change the theme thus changing the design and look of your complete site.
  • Easily migrate all files and database to different host based on your need.
  • Updating WordPress files to next version will not affect your site’s database and other files.

Hope you have got an idea of how does WordPress work; leave you clarifications in the comments section below.

Remeber to read how to backup WordPress properly

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CMSFolks Editorial Crew

Editorial Staff at CMSFolks is a team of WordPress experts led by Ajayi Adekunle. Site maintained by CMSFolks Studio.

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