Configuration files and instructions for installing WordPress securely and running it in a load balanced AWS Elastic Beanstalk environment with an EFS file system for shared assets.
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Deploying WordPress on Elastic Beanstalk

Use the EB CLI to create an Elastic Beanstalk environment with an attached RDS DB and EFS file system to provide WordPress with a MySQL database and shared storage for uploaded files.

NOTE: Amazon EFS is not available in all AWS regions. Check the Region Table to see if your region is supported.

You can also run the database outside of the environment to decouple compute and database resources. See the Elastic Beanstalk Developer Guide for a tutorial with instructions that use an external DB instance: Deploying a High-Availability WordPress Website with an External Amazon RDS Database to Elastic Beanstalk. The tutorial also uses the AWS Management Console instead of the EB CLI.

These instructions were tested with WordPress 4.8.3

Install the EB CLI

The EB CLI integrates with Git and simplifies the process of creating environments, deploying code changes, and connecting to the instances in your environment with SSH. You will perform all of these activites when installing and configuring WordPress.

If you have pip, use it to install the EB CLI.

$ pip install awsebcli

Add the local install location to your OS's path variable. The installation path depends on where you installed Python. Note that it is recommended to install Python in your user directory, and avoid using the version of Python that came with your operating system.

$ export PATH=~/.local/bin:$PATH
$ export PATH=~/Library/Python/3.6/bin:$PATH

Add %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Python\Scripts to your PATH variable. Search for Edit environment variables for your account in the Start menu.

If you don't have pip, follow the instructions here.

Set up your project directory

  1. Download WordPress.

     ~$ curl -o wordpress.tar.gz
  2. Download the configuration files in this repository.

     ~$ wget
  3. Extract WordPress and change the name of the folder.

     ~$ tar -xvf wordpress.tar.gz
     ~$ mv wordpress wordpress-beanstalk
     ~$ cd wordpress-beanstalk
  4. Extract the configuration files over the WordPress installation.

     ~/wordpress-beanstalk$ unzip ../
      creating: .ebextensions/
     inflating: .ebextensions/dev.config
     inflating: .ebextensions/efs-create.config
     inflating: .ebextensions/efs-mount.config
     inflating: .ebextensions/loadbalancer-sg.config
     inflating: .ebextensions/wordpress.config
     inflating: LICENSE
     inflating: wp-config.php

Create an Elastic Beanstalk environment

  1. Configure a local EB CLI repository with the PHP platform. Choose a supported region that is close to you.

     ~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb init --platform php7.0 --region us-west-2
     Application wordpress-beanstalk has been created.
  2. Configure SSH. Create a key that Elastic Beanstalk will assign to the EC2 instances in your environment to allow you to connect to them later. You can also choose an existing key pair if you have the private key locally.

     ~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb init
     Do you want to set up SSH for your instances?
     (y/n): y
     Select a keypair.
     1) [ Create new KeyPair ]
     (default is 1): 1
     Type a keypair name.
     (Default is aws-eb): beanstalk-wordpress
  3. Create an Elastic Beanstalk environment with a MySQL database.

     ~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb create wordpress-beanstalk --sample --database
     Enter an RDS DB username (default is "ebroot"):
     Enter an RDS DB master password:
     Retype password to confirm:
     Environment details for: wordpress-beanstalk
       Application name: wordpress-beanstalk
       Region: us-west-2
       Deployed Version: Sample Application
       Environment ID: e-nrx24yzgmw
       Platform: 64bit Amazon Linux 2016.09 v2.2.0 running PHP 7.0
       Tier: WebServer-Standard
       Updated: 2016-11-01 12:20:27.730000+00:00
     Printing Status:
     INFO: createEnvironment is starting.

Networking configuration

Modify the configuration files in the .ebextensions folder with the IDs of your default VPC and subnets, and your public IP address.

  • .ebextensions/dev.config restricts access to your environment to your IP address to protect it during the WordPress installation process. Replace the placeholder IP address near the top of the file with your public IP address.
  • .ebextensions/efs-create.config creates an EFS file system and mount points in each Availability Zone / subnet in your VPC. Identify your default VPC and subnet IDs in the VPC console. If you have not used the console before, use the region selector to select the same region that you chose for your environment.

WARNING: EFS lifecycle

Any resources that you create with configuration files are tied to the lifecycle of your environment. They are lost if you terminate your environment or remove the configuration file. Use this configuration file to create an Amazon EFS file system in a development environment. When you no longer need the environment and terminate it, the file system is cleaned up for you. For production environments, consider creating the file system using Amazon EFS directly. For details, see Creating an Amazon Elastic File System.

Deploy WordPress to your environment

Deploy the project code to your Elastic Beanstalk environment.

First, confirm that your environment is Ready with eb status. Environment creation takes about 15 minutes due to the RDS DB instance provisioning time.

~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb status
~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb deploy

NOTE: security configuration

This project includes a configuration file (loadbalancer-sg.config) that creates a security group and assigns it to the environment's load balancer, using the IP address that you configured in ssh.config to restrict HTTP access on port 80 to connections from your network. Otherwise, an outside party could potentially connect to your site before you have installed WordPress and configured your admin account.

You can view the related SGs in the EC2 console.

Install WordPress

Open your site in a browser.

~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb open

You are redirected to the WordPress installation wizard because the site has not been configured yet.

Perform a standard installation. The wp-config.php file is already present in the source code and configured to read database connection information from the environment, so you shouldn't be prompted to configure the connection.

Installation takes about a minute to complete.

Updating keys and salts

The WordPress configuration file wp-config.php also reads values for keys and salts from environment properties. Currently, these properties are all set to test by the wordpress.config configuration file in the .ebextensions folder

The hash salt can be any value but shouldn't be stored in source control. Use eb setenv to set these properties directly on the environment.

~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb setenv AUTH_KEY=29dl39gksao SECURE_AUTH_KEY=ah24h3drfh LOGGED_IN_KEY=xmf7v0k27d5fj3 ...

Setting the properties on the environment directly by using the EB CLI or console overrides the values in wordpress.config.

Remove the custom load balancer configuration to open the site to the Internet.

~/wordpress-beanstalk$ rm .ebextensions/loadbalancer-sg.config
~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb deploy

Scale up to run the site on multiple instances for high availability.

~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb scale 3

When the update completes, open the site.

~/wordpress-beanstalk$ eb open

Refresh the site several times to verify that all instances are reading from the EFS file system. Create posts and upload files to confirm functionality.

Updating WordPress

Do not use the update functionality within WordPress or update your source files to use a new version. Both of these actions can result in your post URLs returning 404 errors even though they are still in the database and file system.

To update WordPress, perform these steps.

  1. Export your posts to an XML file with the export tool in the WordPress admin console.
  2. Deploy and install the new version of WordPress to Elastic Beanstalk with the same steps that you used to install the previous version. To avoid downtime, you can create a new environment with the new version.
  3. On the new version, install the WordPress importer tool in the admin console and use it to import the XML file containing your posts. If the posts were created by the admin user on the old version, assign them to the admin user on the new site instead of trying to import the admin user.
  4. If you deployed the new version to a separate environment, do a CNAME swap to redirect users from the old site to the new site.


Now that you've gone through all the trouble of installing your site, you will want to back up the data in RDS and EFS that your site depends on. See the following topics for instructions.