Moving to another server

Steps to use when changing hosters

If you haven’t yet selected a hoster, please read picking a hoster.

FIRST:  If you are moving your site, DO NOT UPGRADE AT THE SAME TIME!!!   Do your Zen Cart upgrade BEFORE moving, or AFTER moving, but never DURING the move. Otherwise you’ll typically run into problems that can’t be quickly resolved because you’ve intertwined software issues with server issues thus confusing the picture. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

1. On your NEW host, create a new MySQL database. Note the username, password, database name, and host name (usually localhost).

2. Using your FTP tool, go to your NEW host and upload a fresh NEW install using the same version files that you built your other site on. This will make sure that you get the proper settings in your configure.php files.

a. Install. When asked about the database-table-prefix during Database-Setup, use the same prefix that your old store uses. You’ll find that in the DB_PREFIX setting of your old store’s configure.php files.

b. Test it.

c. Make backups of the NEW server’s /includes/configure.php and /admin/includes/configure.php files by downloading them (FTP) to your PC.

3. On your OLD host, Make a COMPLETE backup of your DATABASE and STORE.
a. Use either the Backup MySQL Database plugin to do the backup of your database, or use phpMyAdmin to export your entire database. Include the “DROP” tables command, and under Data, choose “Complete Inserts” and “Extended Inserts”.
Save the SQL file to your PC for later.     Click here for advice on doing a backup.

b. Download all your old site’s files via FTP (or if you have the option, zip them up on the server and download the zip)

4. Now upload your OLD files over the NEW files on the NEW server, WITH TWO EXCEPTIONS: Don’t overwrite the /includes/configure.php and /YOURADMIN/includes/configure.php files on the NEW server.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Your “admin” folder from the old site is probably a different name than the one that was auto-renamed in the new site. Pick one of the names and rename the other to match. Otherwise you will have two admin folders, which will leave you with confusion.

5. Go back to phpMyAdmin on your NEW server.

a. Select your NEW database (that you installed the NEW Zen Cart into)

b. DROP all the tables. (Check them all and scroll down and on “With Selected…” select DROP. Confirm Yes.)

c. Click on Import and click Browse.

d. Select the SQL file you made in step 3a when you exported your old database, and click Go.

6. You’re done. Open your store and admin areas to see it all ready to go! Do a test transaction. Turn off the Down For Maintenance mode.

7. You should review all your email settings in Admin > Configuration > Email – especially any SMTP server/account settings, and of course all your email addresses.

8. Once your new site is up and running, the OLD server should be cleaned up: you should DELETE the database and all the PHP files/folders, etc from the OLD server.  There’s no point leaving that data behind for prying eyes or worse.

A Note About NameServers And Timing

On a store that’s taking live orders, you need to prevent orders from being accepted on the old site once you’ve made your database backup to move to the new site.
So, make the following adjustments to the steps above:

a) BEFORE taking the backup in Step 3, first login to your old site’s admin, and set Admin > Configuration > Website Maintenance > Down For Maintenance = TRUE. This is called taking your store down for maintenance.

b) AFTER step 5 or 6, login to your NEW store’s admin, and set Down For Maintenance = FALSE.

c) NEVER disable down-for-maintenance in the OLD site. Once you’ve copied the database from it, you don’t want to take any more orders in the old site, else they’ll be lost. You may even want to put up a message on the old server telling customers that the store has been updated, and that they may need to clear their browser cache and reboot in order to see the new updated site. (This is because browsers remember the old IP address.) You could optionally delete Zen Cart and the database from the old server and just put up a simple index.html page on that server saying the same sort of message. Eventually people’s browsers will all look to the new address. See the Advanced section below for ways to expedite the updates.

d) Once your nameserver updates have propagated (up to 48 hours), you should be able to delete the files and database from the old server.

NOTE: This means your store will appear as down-for-maintenance until the DNS/Nameserver details are propagated to the region where your customers connect online. Once the propagation is done, they will see the new site on the new server, and be able to place orders.

ADVANCED TIP: If you know 3 or 4 days or maybe a week ahead of time that you’re going to do this sort of move, get your old hosting company to change the TTL (Time To Live) setting on your domain DNS settings to 3600 (1 hour). This will help speed the effects of propagation.
Then, a couple days after you’ve completed the move, and propagation is completed, change the TTL back to normal values (whatever your new hosting company prefers to use, often 86400).

Just moving folders?

NOTE: This FAQ handles moving a cart to a NEW server. If you just want to move your cart to another folder on the same server, please see the move cart FAQ.

Still have questions? Use the Search box in the upper right, or try the full list of FAQs. If you can't find it there, head over to the Zen Cart support forum and ask there in the appropriate subforum. In your post, please include your Zen Cart and PHP versions, and a link to your site.

Is there an error or omission on this page? Please post to General Questions on the support forum. Or, if you'd like to open a pull request, just review the guidelines and get started. You can even PR right here.
Last modified March 18, 2024 by Scott Wilson (3db4324).