Zen Cart — Installing



Zen Cart is free software you use to run an eCommerce website. This allows you to sell your products directly from your website as an online shop.

You can install Zen Cart manually using the following instructions in this article.


Step 1 — Install an SSL certificate

Since Zen Cart is used to sell products on your website, you must first install an SSL certificate on your site. This ensures that all transactions to and from your site are secure. There are two SSL certificate options in the DreamHost panel.

  • Let's Encrypt (Free)
  • Sectigo (Paid)

Both of these certificates can be used to run an eCommerce site. However, a paid Sectigo certificate is recommended as it will appear more trustworthy to potential customers. View the following article for further details.

View the following article for instructions on how to install your chosen certificate.

Step 2 — Create an account with a payment processor

The SSL certificate only protects data being transmitted on your website. You must also create an account with a payment processor. This payment processor is the company that will process the credit card data.

DreamHost does not recommend any particular payment processor, but you can find many options online to choose from.

Step 3 — Create a database

Zen Cart requires a database to store and process your shopping cart data. View the following article to create a new database in your DreamHost panel.

Step 4 — Download the Zen Cart software

There are two options to add the Zen Cart software to your site.

  • FTP (easy) — You can download the software to your computer, then upload it to your site using an FTP client.
  • SSH (advanced) — You can also download the software directly to your site via SSH.

The following instructions download and install version 1.5.7.

Downloading via FTP

  1. Visit the following page to download the Zen Cart software.
  2. Click the first link titled CURRENT.
  3. On the next page, you'll see several files you can download. Click the .zip file. This downloads the file to your computer.
  4. Locate the file you just downloaded. It will be titled something like zen-cart-v1.5.7-06232020.zip. Most often you can find it in your /downloads directory.
  5. In Windows, right-click the file and choose Extract All... from the pop-up menu.
  6. A new window opens. In the new window, click the Extract button. All files are extracted to a new folder titled the same as the .zip file.
  7. Log into your server using an FTP client.
  8. In the left pane, navigate to the directory on your computer you extracted the .zip file.
  9. Click into this directory. You should see a list of files.
  10. In the right pane, make sure you're in your website's directory. There should not be any files here other than a possible favicon.ico file.
  11. Highlight all files in the left pane and drag them into the right pane to upload them to your site.

    This could take several minutes as there are many files to upload.

Downloading via SSH

  1. Log into your server via SSH.
  2. Navigate into your user's home directory
    [server]$ cd ~
  3. Visit the following page to download the Zen Cart software.
  4. Click the first link titled CURRENT.
  5. On the next page, you'll see several files you can download. Right-click the .zip file. From the pop-up menu, choose Copy link address.
  6. In your website directory, run the following command to download Zen Cart. 

    Change the URL to the one you copied above.

    [server]$ wget https://sourceforge.net/projects/zencart/files/CURRENT%20-%20Zen%20Cart%201.5.x%20Series/zen-cart-v1.5.7-06232020.zip/download
  7. This downloads the software into a new file titled download. Run the following command to unzip the file.
    [server]$ unzip download
  8. The files are extracted into a new directly titled zen-cart-v1.5.7-06232020.
  9. Navigate into this directory.
    [server]$ cd zen-cart-v1.5.7-06232020
  10. Copy all contents into your website directory. Change username to your Shell user and example.com to your website.
    [server]$ cp -r ./* /home/username/example.com
  11. Check your website directory to confirm the files have been migrated.
    [server]$ ls -la /home/username/example.com

Step 5 — Installing the software

Now that the files are in your website directory, you can complete the installation.

  1. Visit your website in a browser. You will see the Zen Cart homepage.
  2. Click the CLICK HERE link to proceed.
  3. The first page informs you there's an issue with the MySQL database. Ignore this and click the Continue button.
  4. On the next page, enter your store information and click Continue.
  5. Enter your database credentials on the next page. 

    Leave the option SQL Cache Method set to No SQL Caching. You can always adjust this later if needed.

  6. Click the Continue button. This installs the software into your database.
  7. Enter your admin credentials, then click Continue.

    Make a note of the 'Admin password' at this time.

  8. A confirmation message displays informing you that Zen Cart has been installed. You must now remove the zc_install directory as shown in the next step.

Step 6 — Remove the zc_install directory

Before you can use Zen Cart, you must first remove the zc_install directory on the server. Once again, you can either choose to use an FTP client or SSH.

Removing the zc_install directory via FTP

  1. In your FTP client, navigate into your website's directory. If you previously uploaded the Zen Cart files, you are already in this directory.
  2. Right-click the directory titled zc_install and select Delete.
  3. Delete the directory.

Visit the admin page link from the confirmation page. Here you can log into the backend of your website and start uploading your content.

Removing the zc_install directory via SSH

  1. Log into your server via SSH.
  2. Navigate into your website directory.
    [server]$ cd ~/example.com
  3. Delete the zc_install directory.
    [server]$ rm -rf zc_install

Visit the admin page link from the confirmation page. Here you can log into the backend of your website and start uploading your content.

Updating Zen Cart

Zen Cart does not currently offer a simple way to update to the newest version of their software. Updating is a complex manual process that requires the ability to read, compare, and edit code within your website files. The process involves the following basic steps:

  1. Downloading your current site to your computer.
  2. Downloading the new software to your computer.
  3. Using a third-party program to compare your current files to the new version's files.
  4. Manually adjusting your files to work with the newest version.
  5. Creating a temporary store for testing your new files.
  6. Switching your test store to your live store.

If you are not comfortable with this process it's highly recommended you find a developer who can update your site for you. Below is the official Zen Cart instructions on how to go about this process.

See also

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