Most sites based on a CMS or shopping cart software will require a database to function, and MySQL is by far the most common type of database. Creating and managing databases can be very intimidating when done manually, but if your host gives you access to a cPanel (or possibly another type of control panel) you can use cPanel to create a MySQL database making the whole process much more user-friendly.

Database management tools in cPanel

Your control panel may vary, some hosts provide their own branded version with many of the same options, but in this article all of the images will be taken from the official cPanel offered by Hostgator.

cPanel database wizardCredit: Michelle Dancer

The cPanel interface is split into sections. They are able to be rearranged so there's no guarantee how far down the page you'll find this "Databases" section but it will be there somewhere, though the colors may be different depending on your host.

MySQL Databases - This tool allows you to add or delete MySQL databases and their associated "users". It is fairly simple to use but requires some vague knowhow so you may want to avoid this screen if it looks confusing to you.

MySQL Database Wizard - This tool makes adding a new database as simple as possible, following a step-by-step sequence of instructions. This is the easiest way for a new user to start creating MySQL databases.

phpMyAdmin - This is actually a widely used interface for database management. It is often used separately to cPanel, so if you're missing the first two tools you might be lucky enough to still have this available. phpMyAdmin allows you to do a lot of other things that beginners really don't need to worry about, so if you have other options to create your databases use those instead.

Remote MySQL - If you know you need this, you're more advanced than most people reading this article. Beginners, forget it exists.

Using the MySQL Database Wizard

The MySQL database wizard is very simple to use, just follow the steps. The name of the database can be anything you want, make it something descriptive you can recognize at a later date in case you end up with multiple databases and need to find one in particular.

Step 1: Database name - Simple enough.

cPanel MySQL wizard #1Credit: Michelle Dancer

Step 2: Database user - This isn't a user account as most people would think of it, you won't be using this account to log into a website or anything, but rather your website script will be using these details to log into the database.

cPanel MySQL wizard #2Credit: Michelle Dancer

Step 3: User privileges - Unless you have a specific reason for doing otherwise, just check the "all privileges" box.

cPanel MySQL wizard #3Credit: Michelle Dancer

Using the MySQL Databases tool

This screen allows you to delete and modify databases, as well as create them. If you're creating a new database the information needed is the same as with the Wizard, the difference being that all  of these options are on the same page.

You'll need to add a database and a user, and then assign the user to the database with all privileges.

A note on using phpMyAdmin

I've personally never dealt with a host that didn't provide one of the above tools,  meaning the create database option in phpMyAdmin is disabled. If this is your only option, it might be best to ask your host for guidance or find a tailored guide on their website, since you can do a lot of damage in here if you don't know what you're doing.

Creating a MySQL database really isn't that complicated, especially with cPanel at your disposal. Once the database is set up you will most likely need to make a note of the name and user information, since installation scripts will ask for these details to be entered. If all else fails, any web host worth the subscription should gladly help you through any complications you have with the process.