configure.php explained

Zen Cart configure.php explained

FIXME/TODO: Combine/Remove SSL vs non-SSL pages info

Preamble: Important notes You should be running your site entirely under SSL, ie: using https URLs.

In the descriptions below we mention using HTTP and HTTPS separately, largely because older server configurations used to require the separation. Nowadays sites not using HTTPS for everything are often penalized in search-engine results, and browsers will flag security warnings to your customers.

Thus, when configuring your site, you should use SSL everywhere. More specifically:

  • define BOTH the HTTP_SERVER and HTTPS_SERVER with a URL starting with https://
  • for legacy reasons, you will ALSO need to set ENABLE_SSL to ‘true’ (and ENABLE_CATALOG_SSL on the admin side)

When both HTTP_SERVER and HTTPS_SERVER contain an https URL, session cookies will receive the correct secure settings, keeping your site more secure.

Quick Summary:

HTTP_SERVER is the domain name of your site. Visiting this URL will take customers to the “webroot” of your domain, whether or not your store is located in that spot.

DIR_WS_CATALOG and DIR_WS_HTTPS_CATALOG are the foldernames that must be added to the URL in order to take customers to your store. If your store is located in the webroot, then simply entering ‘/’ here will suffice. But if your store is located in a subdirectory like then it would be necessary to see /store/ as the value here.

Explained another way: Zen Cart builds its URLs by combining two values from your configure.php files:

NON-SSL pages:

HTTP_SERVER plus DIR_WS_CATALOG plus the page portion of the URL

ie: plus /store/ and then whatever the address is to the page requested, such as index.php?main_page=shopping_cart.

So, if your settings for those values point to the wrong place, you’ll instantly see that reflected in the URLs you click on when you first arrive at the site. Using that information you should be able to reverse-engineer the URL you see in your browser to break it down into the parts that go into both places.

Tip: In your Admin configure.php, if you set your HTTP_SERVER to a URL starting with https:// then all your admin pages will be handled using SSL. This is a desired effect on the Admin side.

Of course SSL urls will only work properly if you actually have SSL available on your site, with a valid certificate.

SSL pages:

SSL links/URLs are built similarly:

HTTPS_SERVER plus DIR_WS_HTTPS_CATALOG plus the page portion of the URL
ie: plus /store/ and then whatever the address is to the page requested, such as index.php?main_page=login.


DIR_FS_CATALOG points to the physical file folder path on the server. If you’re only changing the URL of your site and not actually changing the foldername where the site sits, then you don’t need to touch this.

However, keep in mind that there IS a similarity between DIR_WS_CATALOG and DIR_FS_CATALOG:

DIR_FS_CATALOG might read: /home/myname/public_html/store/ and thus DIR_WS_CATALOG is: /store/

(DIR_WS_CATALOG points to whatever follows the webroot, configuration of your hosting account, ie: which folder your account points to for your actual site. In most cases this folder is named public_html or htdocs or httpdocs)

Other Paths:

The following paths should NOT be changed. It is VERY rare to ever need to change any of these. Changing them will result in breaking normal operation of your site.

define('DIR_WS_IMAGES', 'images/');  
define('DIR_WS_INCLUDES', 'includes/');  
define('DIR_WS_FUNCTIONS', DIR_WS_INCLUDES . 'functions/');  
define('DIR_WS_CLASSES', DIR_WS_INCLUDES . 'classes/');  
define('DIR_WS_MODULES', DIR_WS_INCLUDES . 'modules/');  
define('DIR_WS_LANGUAGES', DIR_WS_INCLUDES . 'languages/');  
define('DIR_WS_TEMPLATES', DIR_WS_INCLUDES . 'templates/');  
define('DIR_WS_UPLOADS', DIR_WS_IMAGES . 'uploads/');  
define('DIR_FS_EMAIL_TEMPLATES', DIR_FS_CATALOG . 'email/');  

The following line might be changed by a storeowner who sells downloadable items and wants to secure the originals from theft. Substituting the ‘DIR_FS_CATALOG’ portion of this value with an alternate path, after relocating the physical folder to the corresponding location, would be the method used to accomplish this. There is another FAQ article on this specific topic.
define(‘DIR_FS_DOWNLOAD’, DIR_FS_CATALOG . ‘download/’);


define('DB_TYPE', 'mysql');  

In Zen Cart, the only valid value for this is ‘mysql’.

define('DB_PREFIX', ''); // prefix for database table names -- preferred to be left empty  

The prefix is used only when your hosting server’s configuration allows you only a single database in your hosting account, and is an undesired workaround to allow multiple software applications to share the same database without clashing tablenames.
Ideally you will leave this blank, as shown here.
Some hosting companies offering “one-click installs” (which are NOT recommended by Zen Cart) will stuff zen_ in there as a prefix. This can create all kinds of confusion when you try moving your site to another server and forget (or don’t know) that the prefix has been set and all your tablenames were altered.

Here’s an example of what using DB_PREFIX does in your database:

**no prefix** **'zen_' prefix** **'fred_' prefix**
address_book zen_address_book fred_address_book
countries zen_countries fred_countries
products zen_products fred_products
define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8');  

This is the collation or character set that Zen Cart asks MySQL to use when exchanging database back and forth. Another, but older, common choice instead of utf8 is latin1.

define('DB_SERVER', 'localhost');  

This is the address to the server which runs your database. In most cases ‘localhost’ is the correct choice. Your hosting company can tell you if it should be something else.

define('DB_SERVER_USERNAME', 'your username');  
define('DB_SERVER_PASSWORD', 'your password');  
define('DB_DATABASE', 'your assigned databasename');  

These settings are selected by you when you create the database for your store. In some cases they might be assigned for you by an automated database-creation feature in your hosting company’s control panel. Usually you are able to select them yourself. Sometimes the username and databasename have your hosting account name added at the beginning, e.g. yourname_dbname123 even though you selected just dbname123. Your hosting company’s control panel will show you this if it makes this alteration for you.


define('SQL_CACHE_METHOD', 'none');  

Choices are ‘none’ or ‘database’. Choosing database will cache database queries in a database table which is consulted before re-running the query for a full set of results. For larger complex queries this can speed performance.

NOTE: Prior to v1.5.1, a “file” option existed, but is now obsolete. Only ‘none’ or ‘database’ have any meaning.

define('DIR_FS_SQL_CACHE', '/enter/your/path/to/public_html_or_htdocs/and/zencart/here/zen/cache');  

This setting specifies the path where SQL cache files would be stored if ‘file’ mode is selected. In v1.3.9 and v1.5.0, this setting was ALSO used for storing various debug logs used for troubleshooting problems your PHP scripts might be having in your store. As of v1.5.1, these logs are now found in the DIR_FS_LOGS location (see below).

It’s possible to relocate this folder to another location perhaps outside your site’s webroot, for increased security. Simply relocate the folder using your FTP tool, and adjust this value to match the new location.
For more information on understanding “webroot” concepts, see your favorite search engine.

define('DIR_FS_LOGS', '/enter/your/path/to/public_html_or_htdocs/and/zencart/here/zen/logs');  

DIR_FS_LOGS specifies the path where to store various debug logs used for troubleshooting problems your PHP scripts might be having in your store. It’s possible to relocate this folder to another location perhaps outside your site’s webroot, for increased security. Simply relocate the folder using your FTP program, and adjust this value to match the new location.

See also What is STRICT mode for my database for information on DB_MYSQL_MODE.

For more information on understanding “webroot” concepts, see webroot or your favorite search engine.

Still have questions? No problem! Just head over to the Zen Cart support forum and ask there.
In your post, please include your Zen Cart and PHP versions, and a link to your site.

Last modified May 8, 2020 by Chris Brown (6dcab74).