Before installing OpenCart on your webhost’s server, you have to first download OpenCart to your computer. To do this, open your web browser, type www.opencart.com into the address bar, and when the OpenCart home page opens, click on ‘Download’ in the top menu bar (refer to image below).
You will then be presented with a list of OpenCart versions available for download and unless you need to download an earlier version for a specific reason I recommend that you always download the latest version. The lastest version when I posted this was 188.8.131.52 so that is the version I’ve used for the tutorial.
Click on the version you want to download, and choose a location on your computer to save it. Remember this location as you’ll need to access the file later.
Now that you have the OpenCart download, there are a few ways to proceed…
You need a webserver to host your OpenCart store
No matter which method you choose you must have a webhosting service ready to go. If you haven’t then you need to arrange one to continue beyond this point. Just take a note of the following list as OpenCart needs to be installed on a web server with the following attributes.
- Apache or Windows IIS
- PHP 5+
- Register Globals: Off
- Magic Quotes GPC: Off
- File Uploads: On
- Session Auto Start: Off
- MySQL: On
- GD: On
- cURL: On
- ZIP: On
Without these attributes OpenCart will not work properly or will even fail to work at all. If you are unsure whether your web server has these attributes then contact your web host and ask. Mind you, the various web hosts I’ve used over time have each had all of these attributes enabled by default so maybe for most reputable hosts these settings are pretty standard … or maybe I’ve just been lucky. If you’re interested, I currently use BlueHost for my hosting. Just be aware that if you sign up with them by using this link then I’ll receive an affiliate commission.
So, at this point you have the OpenCart .zip file downloaded to your computer, you have a web server with the above attributes and your username/password to access your web server (typically via cPanel).
The next steps assume that you already have a webhost and have the usename and password to login to the cPanel of your account. Typically to access your cPanel you would use your web browser and go to ‘http://www.yourdomain.com/cpanel’. (Substitute ‘yourdomain.com’ with your actual domain).
Create a Database
You need to create a database on your web server.
- Use your browser to navigate to your cPanel login page. Enter the username and password your webhost provided you with to access your cPanel.
- On the right hand side, locate the section titled ‘Databases’ and click on ‘MySQL Database Wizard’.
- Follow the prompts to setup a database. You will be asked to enter a name for your database, as well as a username and password for access to that database. The wizard steps you through the process but make sure that you keep a note of the database name, your usename and password as you’ll need them in the next steps.
If you make a mistake, don’t worry. You can always delete the database before continuing and run the wizard again.
If you are unsure about the process, there is a link to a video tutorial on setting up the database right there on the first page of the wizard.
Upload the OpenCart files to your web server
Remember where on your computer you downloaded the OpenCart .zip file to? You need to now locate that file and unzip it. This will unpack a folder that in turn contains a number of files. In the case of OpenCart version 184.108.40.206, the unzipped folder contains three text files (install.txt, license.txt, upgrade.txt) and a folder titled ‘upload’.
Install.txt contains details on how to install OpenCart.
Upgrade.txt explains how to upgrade an existing OpenCart installation.
License.txt outlines the license conditions to use the OpenCart software.
What you need to do is upload the contents of the ‘upload’ folder to your webserver.
The important thing here is to place the contents of the ‘upload’ folder into the folder on your webserver that will correspond to the web address you want for your store. So, assuming a Linux server, if you copy the files to the root folder ‘public_html/’ then the subsequent web address of your store will be ‘http://www.yourdomain.com’. If you copy the files to ‘public_html/store’ (where you have created the sub-folder named ‘store’) then the web address of the store will become ‘http://www.yourdomain/store’. Make sense?
There are two methods to do this.
1. You can upload via ftp using a program like FileZilla. The use of a ftp client is beyond the scope of this guide but this method is very simple. Just download an ftp client (I use FileZilla which is free), follow the instructions on connecting to a remote host (your server), and upload the files.
2. Alternatively you can handle the upload from within cPanel. Here’s how. In cPanel on the right-hand side find the section titled ‘Files’ and click on ‘File Manager’ to open an explorer-style window to navigate the folder structure of your webserver.
You might find when using the cPanel method that you can only upload files, not folders. If so, just create the folders on the server (duplicating the structure as it appears on your computer) and upload the files into the appropriate folders.
Run the OpenCart Installation
Open your web browser and enter the web address of your store based on where you copied the contents of the ‘upload’ folder in the last step.
The OpenCart Installation will start automatically and you will be presented with a screen asking you to read and accept the terms of the license (see image below). You have to check the agree box and click ‘Continue’ to proceed.
The next screen of the OpenCart installation (see image below) is a check list of the settings required by OpenCart and whether or not those settings are enabled on your web server. What you are looking for here is a green tick for each of the attributes in the ‘PHP Settings’ and ‘Extension’ boxes and ‘Writable’ for each of the files and directories that are listed in the last two boxes.
If your screen is not full of green ticks and the word ‘Writable’ then you have to adjust the relevant setting from within cPanel, or in some cases contact your web host to have them adjusted. The status of each of these attributes must be correct for OpenCart to function.
Click ‘Continue’ to proceed.
On this next screen (see image below) you need the information (database name, username, password) that you entered earlier on when you created your database.
In the first box enter these database details in the appropriate fields.
Also in the first box the first information field titled ‘Database Host’ will normally be prepopulated with the value ‘localhost’. In all but a few cases this is correct so leave it as it is. If it proves to be incorrect then you will need to obtain the Database Host information from your webhost.
The second box is asking for a username and password that will allow you to access the admin section of your OpenCart store. The email address will be where automatic notifications generated by your store will be sent to. You need to enter these now to proceed with the installation but you can change these later on at anytime from within the admin section of your OpenCart store.
Unless you entered incorrect database/user details in the last step you will now see a screen confirming the installation is finished and your OpenCart store has successfully been installed (see image below).
IMPORTANT! Although the installation is complete, your store will not be accessible until you delete the folder titled ‘install’ from the location on your web server where you copied the contents of the ‘upload’ folder earlier. So either use your ftp program or the File Manager within cPanel to navigate to that location and delete the ‘install’ folder.
Now when you enter your store’s address in your web browser eg. ‘http://www.yourdomain.com’ you will see the front end of your store. It is populated with sample data so you get an idea what the default layout looks like. In the next tutorials we’ll be configuring your store with your own products and utimately removing the sample data.
If you’ve made it this far then well done! Manually installing OpenCart just as you’ve done here is about as hard as any of this gets. From here on everything is much easier. I think it becomes more enjoyable too because all of the subsequent steps you now take involve personalising your store, creating your products, setting up your future OpenCart store to start running your online business.
Let me know if any of this tutorial is unclear or if I can improve it in any way, and indeed, feel free to post your own comment to help others to manually install OpenCart on their server.
And if you are inclined, just let me know if you made it this far!