Database-Only Upgrade Instructions

Upgrading if you don’t want to keep your customizations


This is not the standard upgrade procedure. It will DEFINITELY cause you to lose functionality associated with your older customizations and could break things as you will have configuration settings with no associated files (sideboxes, template, etc.).

Doing a database only upgrade might be appropriate in situations like this:

You will lose your customizations, but you won’t lose your data and you’ll be using the latest software, which is more secure.

You will be using the responsive_classic template initially. You can always add a new template later after your store is up and running.


  1. CRITICAL: Back up your site
  2. CRITICAL: Backup your database
  3. Create a new directory called “test” and put the latest version of Zen Cart into it. We’ll call this your test site.
  4. Then create a new database and load your old database in it
  5. Do any database conversions necessary - only necessary if you have custom date fields
  6. Next, change the two configure.php files to utilize the new directory and database This way … when you attempt to upgrade you are “practicing” to see where the problems, if any will happen
  7. Run the installer at
  8. Choose the Upgrade option

Use the upgrade button!

Now you have an up to date copy of your database with an up to date copy of the Zen Cart files.

Copy from live site

  1. Copy the /images folder from your live site onto your test site
  2. Copy in any new images you created from your live site’s includes/templates/YOURTEMPLATE/images folder to the test site’s includes/templates/responsive_classic/images folder
  3. Copy in any new images you created from your live site’s email folder to the test site’s email folder


  1. Customize the following files, referring to your live site to see what needs to be changed:
  • includes/languages/responsive_classic/english.php
  • includes/languages/english/email_extras.php
  • admin/includes/languages/english/email_extras.php


  1. Create a test order, take it all the way through to checkout success, then view the order in your test admin. Make sure everything is working as expected.

Updating PHP

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 May 2, 2021 by Scott C Wilson (95a2d20).