How to install Umbraco manually

Note: this post is over a year old, it's very likely completely outdated and should probably not be used as reference any more. You have been warned. :-)

I've installed Umbraco a million times, so I know how it works. But sometimes people get frustrated when they're starting with Umbraco for the first time.


Sorry XP users, this is written for Windows 7 (you really need to update your 11 year old OS, really). Also, please remember that there's a thousand different computer configurations out there, so this might not be entirely accurate for your specific computer.

So here's a step-by-step guide. This is most certainly not the easiest way of installing Umbraco, but it gives you and overview of how you can do it completely manually, without tools like the Web Platform Installer or Webmatrix.

Let's get started:

  1. Download the latest Umbraco release (choose the umbraco binaries, please don't try to install from the source, if you're a new user you really don't need to touch the source for months at least)
    Umbraco -codeplex -download 
  2. Unzip the files into the directory in which you want to install Umbraco. In this example I will do it in: D:\Dev\MyNewUmbracoSite
    Note: Before you unzip the umbraco binaries, right-click the zip file and choose "Properties", then hit the "Unblock" button to make sure none of the dll's will be blocked. I use 7zip in which you don't have to do this.
  3. Here we're going to do ourselves a huge favor by not installing Umbraco in a virtual directory
    In my hosts file, I now add a new domain name, that I want to use for my site, in my case: mynewumbracosite.local
    The hosts file can be found in: C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc
    Make sure that the current windows user has permissions to the hosts file, as of Windows 7 this file is not writable by default.

    Add the entry:      mynewumbracosite.local

    When that is done, the site can be created in IIS.
  4. Start your IIS Manager and right click on "Sites" and choose "Add web site". 
  5. The site name will be MyNewUmbracoSite, the Physical path will be D:\Dev\MyNewUmbracoSite and the Host name is: mynewumbracosite.local
    The application pool should be changed to use the ASP.NET v4.0 app pool. 
    Note: the application pool should be configured to use integrated pipeline mode (this is the default for the ASP.NET v.4.0 app pool).
  6. Next, you should set some permissions so that IIS is able to execute the pages in your site, right-click on the MyNewUmbracoSite folder in D:\Dev, choose Properties and go to Security. Then click the Edit button and the Add button. Find the IIS_IUSRS account and give is Full Control permissions.
    Make sure to read  more information about setting permissions as just giving full control everywhere is not best practice.
  7. Alright, almost ready to start the install process, go into your SQL Server management studio and create a new database (for example: mynewumbracosite).
  8. In the Security\Logins section of Management Studio, create a new user (SQL Server authentication, remember to uncheck "Enforce password policy").
    Remember the credentials, mine will be umbraco / password
  9. Go back into your database and go to Security\Users. 
    Enter the username umbraco in both user name and login name fields. Enter dbo in the default schema field and make the user db_owner for schemas and roles.
  10. Now you can go to http://mynewumbracosite.local/ and you should be presented with the setup screen.
  11. Go through the wizard and when asked for a database, choose "I already have a blank SQL Server or MySQL database" and then "Microsoft SQL Server".
  12. Enter the server name, database name and credential that you just made and click "Install".
  13. As prompted by the installer, create a new user for your umbraco login.
  14. For the next step in the install wizard, if you want install a starter kit do so, if not choose not to.
  15. When you hit next, you're done.

Please leave a comment when there's something unclear. If you follow along and do things exactly like in this guide, you should be good to go.

Sebastiaan Janssen

Dutch guy living in (and loving) Copenhagen, working at Umbraco HQ. Lifehacker, skeptic, music lover, cyclist, developer.


40 comments on this article

Avatar for Jan Skovgaard Jan Skovgaard | July 18 2011 18:50
Hi Seb

Just want to give you #h5yr! for taking the time to write this guide - it's added to my favourites :-)


Avatar for Michael Michael | July 31 2011 21:12
Ik kom niet verder bij stap 7. Zodra ik SQL Server Management Studio opstart moet ik meteen inloggen. Welke gegevens moet ik hier invoeren? Of waar kan ik buiten dit scherm een database aanmaken?

Alvast bedankt!

Avatar for Sebastiaan Janssen Sebastiaan Janssen | July 31 2011 23:30
@Michael Daar kan ik je ook niet bij helpen, toen SQL server geïnstalleerd werd, is een wachtwoord voor het "sa" account opgegeven.

Je zou kunnen proberen in te loggen via windows authenticatie (maar dat moet tijdens de installatie van de server aan gezet zijn) of via een andere username/password die je kent voor die server.

Mocht dit allemaal geen optie zijn dan denk ik dat de enige andere oplossing is het volledig de-installeren en opnieuw installeren van SQL server, waarbij je let op het aanzetten van Windows Authenticatie en het sa wachtwoord onthoud.


Avatar for Daniel Daniel | October 13 2011 02:26
I followed the steps, but when I navigate to http://mySite.local/ the setup screen is shown without styles applyi, and when I click the Lets get started! link nothing happens. Any idea about this issue?


Avatar for Hadeeel Hadeeel | October 14 2011 23:29
I cannot finsh with insal the program when I should typ this ( mynewumbracosite.local)

Avatar for sajidriaz sajidriaz | November 14 2011 15:23
Thank you!!!

however, when I install CWS i get no xslt. any ideas

Avatar for Sebastiaan Janssen Sebastiaan Janssen | November 14 2011 17:41
@Daniel & Hadeeel sorry for the late reply, it might still help others:

@Daniel: Sounds like a permissions issue, be sure to check that the application pool user has permissions to modify. When the App Pool user is ApplicationPoolIdentity, I use the IIS_IUSRS group and give that permissions to modify everything in my "dev" folder and below it.

@Hadeeel: In the hosts files (as detailed above "The hosts file can be found in: C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc")

@sajidriaz: I am guessing that the XSLT folder is not writable at the moment (see my reply above to Daniel for more info). See if you can create a new XSLT file in the developers section. If that does work then I am not sure what's going on.

Avatar for sajidriaz sajidriaz | November 14 2011 18:04
Hi Guys, thanks for your replies.

All working excellent documentation above!!!

I was adding web application to iis.
I should have been creating website in iis.

so all good!

thanks again

Avatar for sibe havva sibe havva | December 23 2011 15:47
very very good article !!!

thanks again !!!

Avatar for Rob Denham Rob Denham | January 13 2012 10:59
Best installation guide for umbraco yet! Cheers for this, definitely added to favourites for future reference.

Avatar for mehek mehek | February 27 2012 16:23
jsu wont accept my username and pass..even though i hav followed ur steps to the dot..HELP

Avatar for khalid khalid | February 28 2012 04:25
How i can install Umbraco , i am the new user , please help what i need for it do.

Avatar for nuduto nuduto | March 8 2012 05:01
Much better guide than an Umbraco book I've just bought.

Many thanks

Avatar for Sachin Sachin | May 20 2012 13:51
very nice guide .... good work

Avatar for Nick Nick | June 19 2012 18:23
Great guide.
Except after installation when I go to "Preview your new website" I get following error:

Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

Exception Details: System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

Avatar for Sebastiaan Janssen Sebastiaan Janssen | June 19 2012 18:56
@Nick you probably haven't installed a starter kit, so there might be nothing to preview. That's pretty shitty though, shouldn't be happening. Are you able to log into the backoffice though?

Avatar for Nick Nick | June 19 2012 18:58
I can login to the back office fine.
AND I can also see the starter kit files installed.

Avatar for Sebastiaan Janssen Sebastiaan Janssen | June 19 2012 18:59
Hmmm, try doing a save & publish on the homepage. If that doesn't help then I'm not sure what the problem is, be best to post a question at then!

Avatar for Nick Nick | June 19 2012 19:00
yep, tried that too. no luck.

thanks for your help though!
I did read that it is related to unused macros so testing that now.

Avatar for Dilantha Dilantha | July 6 2012 06:17
Thanks Dude... works fine

Avatar for Roel Roel | July 14 2012 11:26
Kan iemand mij vertellen hoe ik dit op een webserver installeer. Ik host bij

Avatar for Ajay Ajay | July 20 2012 10:14
Hi Sebastiaan,
Great instructions to get an awesome bit of software working. It was taking me days to get this working and thanks to you I can progress with my work. Thanks.

Avatar for Christoph Christoph | August 8 2012 22:44
thanks, this was brilliant. should be part of the official instructions when you download the file from codeplex

Avatar for Kurt Kurt | September 14 2012 16:36
Thanks for this tutorial. First time installing Umbraco was a success. I did do one thing differently though. Instead of adding the mysite.local in my hosts file, I just bind a port to my localhost when creating the site in IIS. So as an example, my site's URL would be http://localhost:8787... or http://mylocalip:8787.

Avatar for Joel Macfarlane Joel Macfarlane | October 22 2012 01:59
You are a rock star. Thanks for saving me more time banging my head against this.

Avatar for umb umb | November 11 2012 14:05

i tried to install umbraco many times but it always stuck in database configuration step.

i provide the database info, click install and then the status bar shows %-1 completed . do you have any idea about it?

Avatar for Eric Schrepel Eric Schrepel | December 12 2012 21:05
When I do the above steps, I get stuck at trying to load the site the first time, with a YSOD with "access to the path d:\inetpub\___\app_data\TEMP\PluginCache is denied" error. I've set NETWORK SERVICE as a user with full rights to that inetpub\___ folder and all subfolders/files. Any thoughts? Using IIS 7/Win7. (Also, I notice that my other WebPI-installed Umbraco sites have an add'l user that has full rights; don't know if that makes a difference between that and the manual install.)

Avatar for erdem erdem | January 16 2013 20:27
at database configuration it says "database connection init failed"

pls help!

Avatar for Tej Tej | January 21 2013 16:16
If you want to use these instructions, make sure that if you enter a port other than the default of 80, that you include it in the url when you try and load the site.

Avatar for basha basha | January 25 2013 11:53
i think it cannot useful for windows xp

pls give the solution for windows xp

Avatar for Anders Anders | February 9 2013 12:33
This was a very good article. This was exactly what i was looking for, and it saved my a lot of trouble.. I have bookmarked it since im sure I will need it again :)

Avatar for John Blair John Blair | February 11 2013 16:31
Oops...the installer can't connect to the repository

Unbelievable how many people have encountered this trying to install a starter and no reliable fix from umbraco.

Avatar for Peter Peter | February 13 2013 10:58
Ia have the same error trying to install V6:

Error: the installer can't connect to the repository

I can't install any of the starter kits suggested on the install process, and this renders an unusuable empty site.

Avatar for Sebastiaan Janssen Sebastiaan Janssen | February 11 2013 16:33
What repository is that? I have just installed v6 with a starter kit and that ran just fine.

Avatar for Sebastiaan Janssen Sebastiaan Janssen | February 13 2013 13:05
@Peter @John Please analyze this with Fiddler and open a bug on so it can be looked at.
Make sure to include relevant info like type of browser + version, the error you see in Fiddler, any firewalls that you might be behind, the proxy server your browser is using, etc.

Again, most people do not have this problem.

Avatar for Zahid Iqbal Zahid Iqbal | February 17 2013 07:56
Great, Great, Great, Great !!!!!!!

Many a thanks friend. Although I had been working with CMS's and consider myself an advanced user :S
But umbraco gave me a headache in the start and was treating me a child and didn't let me know whats happening behind the scenes, whereas I need a total control !
where ever I wanted to see the starting guide, the only thing mentioned was how to change the skin :P

but great work dude, thumbs up

Avatar for Paul Goodwin Paul Goodwin | May 30 2013 08:59
It's great to see so much interest in Umbraco. We really need as many getting started / install tutorials as possible to encourage this, which is why I've been writing my own tutorial site I hope this helps

Avatar for Debbie Debbie | June 1 2013 17:07
Hi I have worked all my way through this and when I tried to load my url I get this:

Error Code

Config Error
This configuration section cannot be used at this path. This happens when the section is locked at a parent level. Locking is either by default (overrideModeDefault="Deny"), or set explicitly by a location tag with overrideMode="Deny" or the legacy allowOverride="false".

Config File
Did all the IIS_IUSRS permissions thing but still doesn't appear to be working. Help!

Avatar for Paul Paul | June 20 2013 18:48
Hello guys,

I could really do with your help im pulling my hair out here been on this for a few hours. Im fairlly new to umbraco and have been installing it via the matrix but i thought the time has come to try and install in maually. However, after setting up my database and IIS im getting to step three and it seems to be getting to 90% and failing with the error message

The database configuration failed with the following message: Login failed for user 'umbraco_db'. Please check log file for additional information (can be found in '/App_Data/Logs/UmbracoTraceLog.txt')

Im convinced this is a permissions problem but cant seem to solve it so any help would be awsome.



Avatar for Karen Karen | June 24 2013 16:08
In XP it is just as easy.
The only difference is steps 4/5 regarding creating the website in IIS. Download a nice utility called IISAdmin.NET. This lets you create multiple websites under IIS6. (Hopefully if you've been developing long enough that you are still using XP, you will have this anyway.)
So now create your new website using IISAdmin.Net, then go into IIS and change the .net version under the site properties.

(ps, people still use XP for different reasons, cost, company policy, the amount of time I cannot afford or don't want to take to re-set up my environment in Windows 7...)