Making a Local Copy

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Revision as of 06:36, 7 May 2009 by DrByte (talk | contribs) (added back the FTP recommendations because it's a popular inquiry)
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If your web site is hosted on a remote server, it is common practice to have a parallel copy of the site on a local computer for development and testing.

Configuring local PC as a server

A prerequisite is to configure the local PC as a PHP/Apache/MySQL server. Detailed information for various OS's can be found here.

Copying Files and Database from the Remote Server

If your remote site uses Cpanel for access, there is a Backup page where you can download a backup of your entire server space in a gzip file with one click; however, you have no control of what is included. To download your database, phpMyAdmin is accessible through a tiny link at the bottom of the MySQL page. It is very flexible; though unless you know what you are doing, be sure to follow the steps below exactly. You don't need to add anything to the __DB__; the file will be saved as your_db_name.sql.gz. If you want to add a distinguishing tag to this copy, add it after the __DB__, e.g. __DB__07_23 to get your_db_name07_23.sql.gz.

Via command line

If you're comfortable on the command line, backing up the database is trivial. After ssh'ing into your host you can back up whatever you like using mysqldump. To backup your entire database you would run:

 mysqldump --host <yoursqlhost> -u <your_store_sql_username> -p  <your dbname> > backup.sql

This creates the sql statements needed to create the table and populate it in a new database server. Now on your local copy, you need to import the database. To minimize the differences between your local and remote installations, it is reasonable to: In the mysql command line, create a database with same name as remote database:

  mysql>CREATE DATABASE db_name

Create same user, and grant permissions

  mysql>GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON db_name TO 'username'@'hostname';

Then from the bash shell, you just redirect the sql into mysql:

 bash>mysql -u username -p database_name<backup.sql

Note that you're going to have to have different hostnames.

A detailed discussion of mysqldump can be found here. A more detailed discussion of the topic can be found here.


These are the ideal settings to do a backup via phpMyAdmin:

Note: Before clicking on Export, you should select your database from the dropdown, so that its tables are displayed. Then click on the Export tab.

  • CHECKED: Structure
  • CHECKED: Enclose table and fieldnames with backquotes
  • CHECKED: Data
  • CHECKED: Complete Inserts
  • CHECKED: Extended Inserts
  • CHECKED: Use hexadecimal for binary fields
  • Export Type: INSERT
  • CHECKED: Save as File
  • Filename Template: __DB__
  • Compression: "gzipped" (or whatever you prefer... gzip makes smaller files)


  • open phpMyAdmin
  • select the database you wish to restore into, from the dropdown menu
  • click on the Import tab (in older phpMyAdmin versions, you might have to click the SQL tab instead, to get the Browse button mentioned next: )
  • click on the Browse button, and select the file you downloaded when making the backup
  • click Go


You will want to download an FTP client to transfer files. You can select exactly which parts of your server space to copy. Be aware of the progress of selecting - depending on program, connections and settings it is possible to time-out in the middle of a long selection process, and picking up where you left off risks missing or misaligning some files.

Some good FTP programs are: FileZilla and FlashFXP

Installing your site copy

[Copied from FAQs - tweaked for this use]

  1. On your local host, create a new MySQL database. Note the username, password, database name, and host name (usually localhost).
  2. On your local host do 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. While installing, allow it to install the demo products, so that you can test and be sure that it's working nicely.
    • Install.
    • Test it.
    • Make backups of the local server's /includes/configure.php and /admin/includes/configure.php files by copying them to an easy-to-find place.
  3. Download a complete backup of your database and store.
    • Use either:
      • the "Backup MySQL Database" contribution under Admin->Tools 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 and note how to get to it.
    • 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 we need to deal with the files. There are two approaches you could take:
    • Upload your old files over the new files on the new server, with two exceptions:
      Don't overwrite the /includes/configure.php and /admin/includes/configure.php files on the new server.
    • (Alternate:)
      • If you are not confident about keeping the configure files from being overwritten, copy them to a safe place before starting, and then continue with the process above.
      • Replace the configure files if necessary after uploading is complete.
  5. Go back to phpMyAdmin on your new server.
    • Select your new database (that you installed the new Zen Cart™ into)
    • DROP all the tables. (Check them all and scroll down and on With Selected... select DROP. Confirm Yes.
    • Click on the SQL tab across the top and click Browse.
    • Select the SQL file you made in step 3a when you exported your old database, and click Go.
  6. Grab the "Fix_Cache_Key" utility to reset your Admin > Sessions > Session Directory key: Fix Cache Key Utility
    Simply upload the file to your new Zen Cart™ folder and open fix_cache_key.php in your browser. It will give you status messages. Delete fix_cache_key.php when you're finished.
  7. You're done. Open your store and Admin areas to see it all ready to go.