The Ultimate Nginx Configuration For WordPress Website

So recently I decided to move my server from HostGator to DigitalOcean droplets. In comparison, DigitalOcean has so many benefits over HostGator, especially for developer. The most notable are:

  1. Full root access
  2. You can install anything you want on DigitalOcean
  3. Free SSL (Let’s encrypt)
  4. Cheaper
  5. More powerful server (2GB of RAM, 50GB SSD, 2TB transfer for just $10/month)

My website was running on Apache server at HostGator. As I’ve heard so many good things about Nginx, I decided to make the change. Installing Nginx was easy. However, as I’m not familiar with Nginx, I spent more than a day to solve these two issues:

  1. Website is not accessible. I got 502 Bad Gateway error every time I try to access my site.
  2. When I was able to access my site. All pages/posts are 404 except the home page.

So, to save you time, I’m going to share my configurations so you can follow and get your site up and running fast on Nginx.

Configure PHP FPM

First, let’s edit you php-fpm www.conf file. I’m running php7.2 so the file is located here:

/etc/php/7.2/fpm/pool.d/www.conf

However, if you are running a different php version, you may have different path. The trick is to cd from /etc the ls to see the list of folders. For example, if you have php 7.3, the path would be:

/etc/php/7.3/fpm/pool.d/www.conf

Edit the file using your favorite editor. I’m using vim so I type:

vim /etc/php/7.2/fpm/pool.d/www.conf

Let’s navigate to the line says:

listen = /run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock

Comment that line by placing a ; at line start and type the following line below:

listen = 127.0.0.1:9000

Now it will look like this:

 

configure php-fpm www.conf

Save your file and restart php fpm. I’m on ubuntu 18.04 so my command to restart php fpm is this:

systemctl restart php7.2-fpm

However, if you are on a different server, the command could be different. You can google for the exact command for your system.

Configure your site’s server block

Let’s go to:

/etc/nginx/sites-available/

And create a file match your domain name. For example, my site is excelautocomplete.com, I’ll create file called excelautocomplete.com

vim excelautocomplete.com

then enter the following content to the file:

# WordPress single site rules.
# Designed to be included in any server {} block.
# Upstream to abstract backend connection(s) for php
upstream php {
        server unix:/tmp/php-cgi.socket;
        server 127.0.0.1:9000;
}

server {
        ## Your website name goes here.
        server_name domain.tld;
        ## Your only path reference.
        root /var/www/wordpress;
        ## This should be in your http block and if it is, it's not needed here.
        index index.php;

        location = /favicon.ico {
                log_not_found off;
                access_log off;
                expires max;
        }

        location = /robots.txt {
                allow all;
                log_not_found off;
                access_log off;
        }

        location / {
                # This is cool because no php is touched for static content.
                # include the "$is_args$args" so non-default permalinks doesn't break when using query string
                try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php$is_args$args;
        }

        location ~ \.php$ {
                #NOTE: You should have "cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0;" in php.ini
                include fastcgi.conf;
                fastcgi_intercept_errors on;
                fastcgi_pass php;
                fastcgi_buffers 16 16k;
                fastcgi_buffer_size 32k;
        }

        location ~* \.(js|css|png|jpg|jpeg|gif|ico)$ {
                expires max;
                access_log off;
                log_not_found off;
        }
}

You need to pay close attention to two fields:

  • server_name
  • root

in server_name, type in your website address (without http or https). In the root field, enter the location of your site’s file (the folder that contains wp-content, wp-admin…)

Save the file and reload nginx.

systemctl reload nginx

Now, your site should be up and running without an error.

Conclusion

Moving my website from Apache to Nginx was a challenging but exciting experience for me. I lost a sales due to my customer cannot get to the download page of the product. However, I’ve learned a lot from this experience and next time when I need to move other sites, the whole process would be much faster and easier.

Hopefully, the post has been helpful to you. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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