Welcome to Zen Cart™ ...

The Zen Cart™ software is made available to you for use, additions, changes, modifications, etc. without charge, under the GNU General Public License.

While we do not charge for this software, donations are greatly appreciated each time you download a new version, to help cover the expenses of maintenance, upgrades, updates, the free support forum and the continued development of this software for your online e-commerce store.

Donations can be made at: The Zen Cart™ Team Page

We appreciate your support.
The Zen Cart™ Team

Zen Cart™ is derived from: Copyright 2003 osCommerce
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY;
without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE
and is redistributable under the GNU General Public License

This software is OSI Certified Open Source Software.
OSI Certified is a certification mark of the Open Source Initiative.


Getting Started ...

This is a basic guide to installing Zen Cart™. If you already have Zen Cart™ installed and wish to upgrade from a previous version to this new release, please see the Upgrade Instructions and the What's New documentation.

The Basics

You have downloaded the Zen Cart™ software for an online shopping cart.

Questions to ask yourself ...

1. Do you have a domain?

If No, stop ... see our Certified Hosting Sites and find a fast, reliable hosting site that can help you register your own personal domain as well as provide for your hosting needs that meet the Zen Cart™ software requirements ...

2. Do you have reliable FTP software?

If No, stop ... you need to obtain a reliable FTP software package such as FileZilla (free), FlashFXP or another FTP software program to transfer files back and forth from your computer to your webserver.
Note: webserver meaning, the computer on the internet where you have your domain hosted (See 1)

NOTE: Many people have had timeout and other problems when using programs like SmartFTP and CuteFTP. We recommend that you do NOT use these problematic programs.

NOTE 2: If your hosting company provides an FTP program that runs inside your browser, we recommend that you do NOT use that for uploading large amounts of files such as a fresh install of Zen Cart. Those are okay for single-file uploads, but unreliable for several files at once.

3. Do you have a good Text Editor?

If No stop ... you will need a good Text Editing software such as UltraEdit, Notepad++ (free), CrimsonEditor (free), BBedit(Mac), Kedit (linux), or some other type of Text Editor for modifying the files in the Zen Cart™ software ...

Note: do not use CPanel for editing files, nor MS Word or other software designed for fancy writing ... you want a nice clean Text Editor. You can use the Windows Notepad... but this is limited in capabilities and the size of files that it can open and often can cause more harm than good ...

4. Do you have access to your webhosting control panel to create a MySQL database and user?

BEFORE YOU PROCEED, make sure you have access to a MySQL database, and username/password to that database. You may need to create the database using your webhosting account's control panel. Contact your webhosting company for assistance. Zen Cart™ cannot create the database for you.

(You need the following permissions on your MySQL user: SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, CREATE, ALTER, INDEX, DROP.   On an hSphere host, this would be "dba" access, or at least read/write. )

All set?

If you have answered Yes to all 4 of these questions, then you are ready to go on ...

ZIP file

Since you're reading this file, you have likely already unzipped the Zen Cart™ distribution file and its contents into a folder on your personal computer. If for some reason you haven't already done so, unzip the files to your PC now, retaining the file structure within the zip file.

Upload the Zen Cart™ fileset to your webserver

Upload, via FTP, the whole program into a directory on your server. Example: /catalog
(We will use "/catalog" as an example here. You can choose "no" foldername, or something else if you prefer, such as "/zencart", or "/store" etc)

NOTE: As you upload your files, make sure that your FTP program and your webserver allow "long filenames". Some old FTP software used to shorten names longer than 11 letters, and that would cause a problem with uploading Zen Cart files.

What folder do I upload into?

Each web host has his/her own preference in naming folders for use in running a website.
You can have many files that don't even get shown to the public. The ones that are available for access via a browser are usually in a folder called something like:

- /home/YOURNAME/public_html
- /var/www/YOURNAME/httpdocs
- /usr/accounts/a/b/YOURNAME/httpd
etc, etc, etc

Basically, in your FTP area look for a "www" or "public_html" or "htdocs" or "httpdocs" or "wwwroot" folder. These are the common folder names for what is referred to as the "webroot", which is where all website content is served from.

Your Zen Cart files (or *any* files to run your website, for that matter) need to be under that folder. If they're not, then you're going to get "not found" errors ... because the content is not found!

If it's unclear where the publicly-accessible files are to be uploaded, ask your hosting company for assistance in determining what your "webroot" folder should be.

Creating the configure.php files

Two files need to be created on the server. These are the configure.php files that identify the settings of your particular server and the location of the files that you just loaded. After they have been created, you will then need to change the permissions on these files.

NOTE: Changing permissions can be done via your FTP program with the chmod feature. Usually clicking right on a directory or filename will open a menu with this option (perhaps under "Properties")

On the server locate the file: /catalog/includes/dist-configure.php
Rename this file to configure.php and change the permissions to 777 (read-write-execute for all)

Next, on the server locate the file: /catalog/admin/includes/dist-configure.php
Rename this file to configure.php and change the permissions to 777 (read-write-execute for all)

NOTE FOR IIS USERS: If using IIS for Windows hosting, the "chmod 777" idea for permissions settings is likely foreign to you. In IIS, under Windows, you need to right-click on the file (or folders in the next section below), and choose Properties. Then under the Security tab, ensure that the"Internet Guest Account", identified usually as: MACHINE_NAME\IUSR_MACHINE_NAME ... has at least "read" and "write" privileges... likely best to give "modify" as well. This should be done on each file/folder indicated. (If the IUSR_MACHINE_NAME account isn't listed, click "Add" and add that account from the list, and then set the required permissions.) (Note: "_MACHINE_NAME" above refers to the "machine name" or "computer name" configured by the server administrator to "name" the server.)

Set Permissions on folders

Now, change the permissions on the following directories to 777 (read/write/execute).


Note: open the catalog/images directory and change all of the subdirectories and their subdirectories to 777 as well. For example (this is a partial list):

NOTE: If you miss any of the images directories and subdirectories inside /images and try to use them later, you will get an error message that you cannot write to these directories.

Other folders/files

As for other folders and files, depending on your webserver configuration, they can be set to:
- folders: CHMOD 755     ("CHMOD" is a linux/unix term for setting/changing permission levels)
- files: CHMOD 644
These are typically the defaults that your FTP program will use when uploading, so usually do not need to be set manually.

Before Running the Installer

The installer is fairly intelligent and should be able to automatically supply answers to the questions listed below.

You will, however, need to confirm that the auto-detected answers are, in fact, correct as on some servers they may differ.

You will need the following information for the installation:
  • The physical path to your new Zen Cart™ directory
    Example: /home2/zencart/public_html/catalog

  • The Virtual HTTP Path (the URL to your domain and directory for your shop)
    Example: http://www.mydomain.com/catalog


If you are installing onto a live webserver where you intend to process real transactions, you should plan on securing your customers' transaction data with SSL. If you don't already have an SSL certificate, talk to your hosting company about your available options. You will need to enter your SSL details below. In most cases they will be correct, unless you're using a "shared SSL" service. Your hosting company can give you the correct URL.
If you are installing to a local PC or to a development server where you do not need to protect sensitive data, you can leave the SSL settings at their defaults, and when asked about enabling SSL later in the installation process, just leave it off if you're not on a live production server.
  • The Virtual HTTPS Server (the secure URL to your domain)
    Example: https://www.mydomain.com
    Note: if you have a shared certificate on a virtual server this may look like:
    - or - https://secure.sharedservername.net/~username

  • The Virtual HTTPS Path (the secure URL to your domain and directory for your shop)
    Example: https://www.mydomain.com/catalog
    - or - https://secure.sharedservername.net/~username/catalog

Starting the Installer

In your browser, enter the URL to your new shop, and the Installer should automatically start.
Example: http://www.mydomain.com/catalog
- or - to start the installer directly, use: http://www.mydomain.com/catalog/zc_install

If you now see a list of filenames and directories, you should speak to your Hosting Site about how to setup your server to auto-detect PHP filename extensions.

You will be presented with a "Welcome to Zen Cart™" page, explaining the features of Zen Cart™.
Clicking on Continue takes you to the license screen where you are asked to read and confirm acceptance of the GPL licensing agreement.

System Inspection

Next, it will examine your server for compliance with technical requirements for running Zen Cart™, presenting you with several items you may need or want to address with your host. Anything marked in red or with an "X" must be addressed before the installer can continue. Things marked with an orange or yellow "caution" symbol are simply warnings that may or may not apply to your setup now. The image folders and others as described earlier in this document are also noted. If you make changes to your server, you can click Re-Check or press F5 in your browser to refresh the display and reflect the changes you've made before proceeding.

If a previous version of Zen Cart™ is found on your server, the installer will attempt to determine the database patch level and display that on the screen as well. In this case, an "upgrade" button will display at the bottom of the screen offering you the ability to upgrade if needed. See the upgrade instructions.

Once you are satisfied that the "pre-flight-check" inspection is OK for your needs (ideally, all green check-marks), you may click the "Install" button at the bottom of the screen.

System Setup

On the System Setup page you will need to complete the information we described in "Before Running the Installer" earlier in this document.

Indicate if you want to Enable SSL (the secure pages where required, in Login, Checkout, and optionally Admin areas) on your server. If you do not have an SSL certificate yet, do not enable this feature now.It can be changed at a later date. (See the FAQ's on the Zen-Cart.com website for detailed instructions).

Note: If you receive any of the following error messages, go through the above steps to make sure you have not left anything out. All error messages have context-sensitive help via a popup window if you click on the more info... links supplied.
Warning: Problems Found
  • /includes/configure.php does not exist.  more info...
  • /admin/includes/configure.php does not exist.  more info...

phpBB Setup

Next, you will be prompted for phpBB path information. If you have the phpBB forum software already installed on your site, you may enable it for connectivity and synchronization from Zen Cart™. To enable it, specify the path on your server where the phpBB files are located. For example, if they are in ......public_html/forums  then you would enter /forums in the Zen Cart™ installer for path to phpBB files.

Database Setup

On the next screen, you are asked for Database Information about your MySQL database, username and password. These can be obtained from your cPanel or equivalent control screen provided by your host. If you do not have a clean MySQL database setup with a username and password, you will need to create one.
Contact your Hosting site if you need assistance in creating a MySQL database table and/or username and password. Note that you need to have your database and userID created before the Zen Cart™ installer can continue past this screen.

Other information on this screen:
  • At this time, MySQL is the primary operational database type.
    Future releases may support other database types.

  • We recommend that you store your Database Sessions in your database for security purposes.

Store Setup

Now, complete the Store Information about your Shop.

Note: except for "demo data", all of the information here can be (re)configured later in the Admin area of your shop.

Demo Data
If you would like to install the demo data, select yes.

We recommend that you install the demo data to familiarize yourself with many of the examples created that explain and demonstrate the vast number of features available in Zen Cart™.

You may also decide later, to set up a test site with the demo data AND a separate working site for your live data so that you have the ability to refer back to the demo data for help and to see examples of a feature.

After you click Save Store Settings, there will be some hesitation as the database tables are created and the demo data is optionally loaded.

Admin Setup

Now, complete the Admin Information to set your Login name, Admin email address and password.

NOTE: both the login name and password are case sensitive.

Save the Admin settings and your installation is now complete!
Providing there were no errors during installation, you should be able to now enter the Admin or the Catalog.

After Installation

When you enter the Catalog, you will receive security warnings about the configure.php files and the /zc_install directory.

configure.php files
You will now want to change the permissions on the configure.php files with chmod 644 (or 444 depending on your server...and sometimes setting 444 cannot be done via FTP, in which case use your host's control panel or file manager to set the permissions level.)

These are located in:

It would also be a good idea to download a copy of these files to your computer from the server as they have been setup and configured to your server specifications based on the Installation process.

If you have any errors or problems, most of these can be corrected by minor adjustments to these two files.

zc_install directory
Next, you will want to delete or rename the /catalog/zc_install directory to something like: /catalog/zc_install_complete

NOTE: use a different name than zc_install_complete as some hacker may try using it, having read this help file.

Next Steps

For information on "First Steps To Set Up Your Online Shop", see the Wiki entry discussing a Basic Checklist

You should also familiarize yourself with the Zen Cart™ Developers Toolkit, located in your store's Admin area, under "Tools". This will help you locate almost anything you want to customize in your shop!

Once you're set up and ready to start announcing your URL to the public, you should FIRST review Site Security Recommendations to be sure your site is safe and not vulnerable to hackers. The most up-to-date version of this file can be found on the Zen Cart™ wiki under Important Security Recommendations

Help and Support

For additional help and support issues, visit our FAQs and our Support Forum on the web.

You can find these resources at the Zen Cart™ Website

Good Luck with the software and Enjoy the Zen Cart™ Experience!

Zen Cart™ Copyright 2003 - 2009