Installing & Configuring Zen Cart
Full Step-by-Step Guide

This Zen Cart step-by-step guide aims to be different to the many other install guides available.

Firstly, it is suitable for everyone - from novice to experienced Zen Cart users. If you need more information on a particular step, follow the link for detailed instructions. Or alternatively, you may simply use this guide as a checklist to ensure you do not forget any steps along the way.

Secondly, it is an Installing and Configuring Zen Cart Guide - it won't leave you hanging wondering "What's next?" after the initial install. This guide will take you step-by-step through to a fully functioning Zen Cart store. Rather than focusing on the 'look & feel' of your store, this guide ensures your store is ready for business. Then, make money and build your customer base with a fully functioning store while you get your creative juices flowing and work on a customised template.


Installing Zen Cart

  1. Select a Domain Name

    Selecting a domain name for your Zen Cart Store is one of the most important decisions you will make when starting your e-commerce business.  Selecting a domain name for your Zen Cart online store has some hints to help you choose the right domain name.

  2. Select a web host suitable for Zen Cart

    Selecting a hosting company that is familiar with Zen Cart and the optimum settings requird for an ecommerce site is an important step.  See Select a web host suitable for Zen Cart for more information.

  3. Get your Zen Cart Toolkit Ready

    Before you begin your Zen Cart installation, have the required tools to hand.  Check out Get your Zen Cart Toolkit Ready for help on free tools and resources.

  4. Create a MySQL Database for Zen Cart

    Zen Cart uses a MySQL database to store configuration information as well as customer and product information.  See Creating a MySQL Database in cPanel for Zen Cart Installation for a step-by-step guide.

  5. Download Zen Cart Installation files

    Only install Zen Cart from the official release available from  For step-by-step instructions see Download Zen Cart Installation Files. Updated: 24th May 2013 for Zen Cart 1.5.1

  6. Upload the Zen Cart fileset to web server

    The next step is to load the Zen Cart files to a folder on your web site.   The Zen Cart fileset includes both the files needed for the install process as well as the program files.  There are two options at this step.  Option 1 (the recommended option) is to Upload the Zen Cart .zip file to your web server.  The alternative (Option 2)  is to extract the .zip file first and then Upload the Zen Cart files to your web server. Updated: 25th May 2013 for Zen Cart 1.5.1

  7. Create the configure.php files

    Rename includes/dist-configure.php to configure.php and admin/includes/dist-configure.php to configure.php and change the permissions to read-write-execute for all.  See Create the configure.php files for step-by-step instructions in cPanel.

  8. Set File Permissions on folders

    A number of folders require specific file permissions in order for Zen Cart to function correctly.  For a list of the folders and instructions on setting the correct permissions see Set File Permissions on folders.

  9. Getting ready to run the Zen Cart Installer

    Ensure you have the required information prior to running the Zen Cart Installer.  The Installer will guide you through the install process but you will need to enter specific information such as file paths and database details.  Check that you have these to hand in Getting ready to run the Zen Cart Installer.

  10. Run the Zen Cart Installer

    Now you are ready to run the Zen Cart Installer.  In your favourite browser go to your new store address (eg and the Zen Cart Installer will start.  For step-by-step instructions see Run the Zen Cart Installer.

  11. Modify the configure.php Files

    On completion of the Zen Cart Installer, a very important step is to ensure the configure.php files are set to read-only for all.  Zen Cart will display a red security warning on the store front until this step is completed.  This is best done via your web hosts control panel as this step can be problematic with FTP software.  For detailed steps see Modify the configure.php Files.

  12. Remove zc_install Folder

    Zen Cart displays a red security warning on the store front if the Zen Cart Installer (the zc_install folder) is present after the installation process is completed.  For further instructions on deleting this folder (and removing the warning message) see Remove zc_install Folder.

  13. Apply Security Patches

    Check the Zen Cart Forum for official notification of Security Patches released since the latest version release.  Zen Cart store owners have a responsibility to keep their Zen Cart installations up-to-date, safe and secure in order to protect their customers information from unauthorised use.  See Apply Security Patches for more information.

  14. Apply Known Bug Fixes

    Fixes for Known Bugs are made available from the Zen Cart Support Forum.  More information is available from Apply Known Bug Fixes and subscribe to receive updates by email in the future.

  15. Rename Admin Folder

    Access to your store Admin is protected by username and password.  However, unauthorized access (or access attempts) are one step closer if all Zen Cart stores have the Admin files in a known location (ie /admin).  It is recommended that all Zen Cart Store Owners  Rename Zen Cart Admin folder for increased security.

  16. Remove Admin accounts not required

    Check in Admin > Tools > Admin Settings and delete any Admin accounts that have been created but not required.

Configuring Zen Cart

(This section is currently work in progress.)

  1. Zen Cart Store Tour

  2. Store Details

  3. Setting Location and Zones

  4. Configuring Currency

  5. Setting up Payment Modules

  6. Setting up Shipping Modules

  7. Configuring Tax

  8. Setting the Weight Unit

  9. Adding Categories

  10. Understanding Product Types

  11. Adding Products

  12. Configuring Email

  13. Edit Define Pages