New to Concrete CMS- which version

I am finally taking the first step and installing Concrete CMS to build a new website. (The place that I work is also using Concrete CMS, and I am supposed to add to my area of the website, so I thought it would be good to learn the same cms for both.)
Softaculous at our web hosting service is offering the choice to install version or 9.0.2. I want to be able to purchase a theme and know that it will work easily as I create my site and learn Concrete. It seems like there would be a lot to configure if I choose 9.0.2 and I don’t see many themes ready for that version yet. Is too old? I don’t know why they don’t offer version 8.
What is the smart choice? Thanks in advance for any advice you might offer.

If you are wanting to purchase a theme, you really want version 8, as there are hardly any themes that work with version 9. You will be able to upgrade from version 7 so that might be the way to go. Have you considered doing a manual install it’s not that hard, there are some instructions in the docs.

There is a video for manual install, it’s a bit old but all the principles are the same.

Thanks! I am a little nervous about the manual install as the very first thing I do, but I have practiced a little bit with a wamp server on my computer and made a database in that. I will check out the video and see if I can install version 8.
I have your theme in my short list of considerations. I looked at the other themes you have made on your website. Will you ever consider making more Concrete CMS themes similar to the ones you have for other platforms? I really like the way the Flagstone Photography homepage works! So grateful for your advice and your work to help those of us who cannot build from scratch right now. -L

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Thanks for your kind words about our work, it’s much appreciated.

Glad to hear Modena is on your short list, at the moment we are concentrating on getting Modena ready for version 9, sadly every time a new version of V9 is released another issue is introduced, so progress has been slower than we would like. We hope to do more Concrete CMS themes. the Flagstone photography layout may be tricky to implement well in Concrete, but never say never.

Good idea to have a practice on a local environment first, if you can do it there you can do it on your live server. I am not a big fan of one-click installers on hosting platforms they seem to be a bit hit and miss.

Please don’t install then immediately upgrade. There are always upgrade issues, especially between major versions, so you will be introducing bugs known and hidden before you even get started.

V9.0.2 is OK for building a site, but v9 is still very new for a non-developer to work with and you will end up needing to do manual upgrades for 9.0.3, 9.0.4 etc.

You best starting point as a non-developer is v8.5.7. This is the most stable, best documented, best supported with marketplace addons and themes and also most widely understood by others when you need help.

In the longer term you will likely need to upgrade from v8 to v9, but not until the upgrade process is supported and then a few releases on while the bugs are ironed out. In the mean time, ask questions before purchasing a theme (or addon). Some theme developers are actively working on a seamless theme upgrade from v8 to v9 (such as @VidalThemes), while other themes are likely to be end of life with v8. Also beware that while a theme or addon may be compatible with v8 and with v9, it may not upgrade between them.


Thanks for explaining more of the tech considerations. It does seem beneficial to hold off on installing v9. I made certain to look for themes that state that they are compatible with v8 up front. Now I am deciding between a simpler theme, and a couple like Modena, with more preset features. I need to get a website up and running quickly and then will have to look at extensions to do a couple of specific things we have had on our previous website. For example, a calendar feature that our secretary can update easily. She does not have time, nor want, to learn a lot of new procedures, so I will be comparing what is available to be as efficient as possible.
Anyway, thank you for your input. I truly appreciate being able to connect with people who share thoughtful information and advice. -L

I’ve been using version 9 for over a year now. Schedule a 15min Demo (on the bottom)

I’ll be blunt: v9.* canNOT be used by anyone either without programming background, knowledge and experience or being happy with the default colors and simply dragging blocks around with a mouse! As of today it can only be used as is with the supplied default theme without any chance of any theme modification. v9 has excellent backend core, tools, features etc. for programmers, it uses the modern Bootstrap 5. But you can’t change the damn theme.

v8.5.7 is the most stable, documented and customizable version for now.


Thanks for the further input.
I did finally install v8.5.7, and imported 2 purchased and 3 free themes to experiment with. I had to try a few times before I completed a successful (manual) installation, and needed to refresh my memory about using MySQL and getting the settings correct to make C5 work.
I’m not a complete beginner, and definitely not an expert, but I usually do alright once I become familiar with the new environment and decide what I want to accomplish. I’m not too concerned about the learning curve, but I am looking in the forums again today because I am not able to login with the user I set up yesterday. I think I overlooked a message about logging with admin and locked myself out with too many attempts.
Will search around and see what documentation there is.
So thankful people are willing to share knowledge and advice! -L

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Here is the ultimate reference for recovering your admin account, by @mnakalay The complete guide to recovering a user password in concrete5 -

If your IP address got flagged, don’t worry too much about it, the ban only lasts 10 minutes unless you changed the default setting.
If you lost your password then @JohntheFish suggestion is a good one… if I may say so myself :grin:

@JohntheFish and @mnakalay Thanks for chiming in. `I haven’t been able to work on this for a couple of days, but have time this weekend to try again. I do remember my password, and I have waited several days, but still am blocked. This happens every time I set up the account and database and install Concrete5 v8.5.7. It will work the first day, while I am logged in, but when I log out and come back to log in the next day I get the message: Doctrine \ DBAL \ Driver \ PDOException (1045)
SQLSTATE[HY000] [1045] Access denied for user ‘username’@‘localhost’ (using password: YES)
Previous exceptions
SQLSTATE[HY000] [1045] Access denied for user ‘username’@‘localhost’ (using password: YES) (1045)
I’ve tried using admin as the username as well, once I realized it might be expecting that, but am still unable to log in.
I don’t know much about PHP, and have tried searching for suggestions for handling this error in places like, but nothing seems to fit this specific error so far.

This error message is telling you that the username and password used for accessing the database is either not configured correctly, or the user does not have sufficient permissions to access the database.
It is nothing to do with the username and password for signing in to your site.