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Getting started with PrestaShop 1.4

Whether you are a computer expert or a novice, the PrestaShop™ e-Commerce solution enables you take any business online.

Since PrestaShop can be accessed from any computer with a standard Web browser, you can manage it from anywhere in the world where there is Internet access. Update your homepage, add new products, check on order status -- all you need is your PrestaShop username and password.

This Getting Started guide will show you how to:

  1. Verify that you server meets all the system requirements.
  2. Install PrestaShop on your hosting server.
  3. Update PrestaShop to the latest version.
  4. Uninstall PrestaShop.
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You can download our step-by-step PowerPoint document:

Technical requirements

Before downloading or installing anything, you need to provide a home for your PrestaShop online store. This means its files need to reside on a Web server. You might have a Web server of your own, but it is more likely that you have or will have your shop hosted by an Internet hosting service, which provides you with an online home for a few dollars per month.

You may also want to buy a domain-name for your shop. Many web hosts offer a free domain with every new account, but you could also buy one at an independent domain name registrar.

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PrestaShop can host your online business on its in-house Web servers; please consult our PrestaBox website for details on our low-priced, secure Website hosting service. This is highly recommended for businesses with little to no experience with the Internet or computers. Naturally, we install and update PrestaShop for you.

Whichever hosting service you use must have the following components installed on your server space:

  • System: Unix, Linux or Windows. Unix is highly recommended.
  • Web server: Apache Web server 1.3 or later.
  • PHP 5.2 or later. (You may have to activate PHP 5 on your hosting service, see below.)
  • MySQL 5.0 or later.
  • At least 32 Mb of RAM on your server (64 Mb is comfy, the more the better).

PrestaShop can work with PHP 5.1 or later, but versions inferior to 5.2 have bugs that might prevent some functionalities to work as expected (such as invalid date time zone).
PrestaShop can also work with Microsoft's IIS Web server 6.0 or later, and Nginx 1.0 or later.

More information is available for system administrators in the System Administrators Guide.

Setting up a local environment

This guide is mainly targeted at users wishing to install PrestaShop on a remote server/host.

You may wish to install on your local machine, either in order to test PrestaShop before investing money in a server and domain name, or to customize your shop locally before you push your modifications to the PrestaShop installation that would already you have online.

Installing any web-application locally requires that you first install the adequate environment, namely the Apache web server, the PHP language interpreter, the MySQL database server, and ideally the phpMyAdmin tool. This is called an AMP package: Apache+MySQL+PHP and the operating system, giving WAMP (Windows+Apache+MySQL+PHP), MAMP (Mac+...) and LAMP (Linux+...). Since all of the items packaged are open-source, these installers are most of the time free.

This would require you to be quite technical; luckily there exist many pre-built packages that you can install easily. It does not prevent you from having to get technical here and there, but they do provide a huge help. Here is a selection of free AMP installer:

Choose the package that you feel the most comfortable with, launch it, and make sure that everything it has installed does work before going on with this PrestaShop installation tutorial:

  • The web server should be up and running. You should be able to access it through your browser, by typing "127.0.0.1" in the address bar. 127.0.0.1 is the "localhost", meaning "your computer": it is a loopback address which directs the browser to any local server. In effect, 127.0.0.1 and localhost are synonymous: you can use one or the other interchangeably.
  • The database server should be up and running. MySQL is where all your data is stored. The AMP package should provide you with a clear indicator whether MySQL is running or not.
  • The phpMyAdmin tool should be accessible. This is the web application that helps you handle data stored in MySQL. Its location depends on which AMP packaging you chose: it can be found at http://127.0.0.1/phpmyadmin (XAMPP, WampServer, MAMP), http://127.0.0.1/mysql (EasyPHP), or maybe at another location. Check your package's documentation – it might even provide a phpMyAdmin button of sort that would open the correct URL in your browser.

Once you have checked that the package is correctly installed and that all of its parts are running, you need to find the root folder. That's the local folder where you will place your files, and can be compared to the root folder of your online server, only its content is accessed with 127.0.0.1. The actual local location of the folder depends greatly on the AMP package, and can be customized:

  • XAMPP: C:\xampp\htdocs
  • WampServer: C:\wamp\www
  • EasyPHP: C:\easyphp\www
  • MAMP: /Applications/MAMP/htdocs/

Finally, you need to know the root user name and password for MySQL, in order to install PrestaShop. Most packages use the user name "root" with an empty password. Read your package's documentation.

With all that clear and done, you can follow up on the rest of this Getting Started guide, keeping in mind that files are not to be uploaded via FTP to a server, but simply to be moved in the correct local folder.

Installing PrestaShop

Downloading and unzipping the PrestaShop archive

You can download the latest version of PrestaShop 1.4 at http://www.prestashop.com/en/developers-versions. This page presents you with all the archive for the previous versions of PrestaShop, for historical purpose.

Three sections are presented to you:

  • The latest version of PrestaShop (1.5.4.1 as of this writing): a stable version, ready for all websites.
  • A link to the Github repository, where you can find the sources of PrestaShop, and participate to the development. The files on the repository are in heavy development, and are only available for testing purposes, NOT for production. Use at your own risk.
  • The list of previously released version: from PrestaShop 0.9.7 to the latest version of the 1.5 branch.
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We strongly advise you to stay away from the development Github version if you do not intend to cater for the teething problems inherent to development versions!

Go to the "Previously released version" section, click the "PrestaShop v1.4" row to open it, and click the "Download" button for the latest version.

The browser will prompt you to download a file: save the archive on your computer (such as on the desktop). You should get a file named "prestashop_1.4.11.0.zip" (or an equivalent, depending on the version numbers).

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The downloaded file is an archive, meaning one file containing all of PrestaShop's files in compressed form. In order to continue with the process, you must uncompress the archive. If your operating system does not natively support Zip files, you can download and install a free tool, such as 7-zip.

Extract the content of the archive to a known location on your hard-drive (such as on the desktop again). Do not upload the Zip file to your server.

Uploading PrestaShop

You should now have a hosting space at your disposal, and a folder on your hard-drive with the uncompressed PrestaShop archive. This step makes you upload the PrestaShop files on your hosting space. This is done using a FTP client.

Installing and configuring your FTP client

FTP is short for "File Transfer Protocol". A great and free FTP client is FileZilla. Download it and install it. Note: do not download FileZilla Server, only FileZilla Client!

Once FileZilla is installed, you will need to configure it with your site's log-in parameters, which should have been sent to you by your host. If not, ask for them to your host – or check your spam folder (wink)

Basically, the needed parameters are:

  • A hostname or an IP address: the location of your hosting space's FTP server.
  • A username: your hosting account identifier, which is unique to you.
  • A password: obligatory security measure.

Open FileZilla, and open its Site Manager tool. You can do this in three different ways:

  • Press Ctrl-S.
  • Click the "Open the Site Manager" icon, at the top left.
  • Open the "File" menu, and select the "Site Manager..." option.

A window opens.

To add your hosting space to the Site Manager:

  1. Click the "New Site" button. A new entry is created in the site list. Give it a recognizable name.
  2. On the right side, in the "General" tab, enter the parameters your host provided you with: host, user, and password. You should not have to change the other default parameters, unless told so by your host.
  3. Once all the fields are properly filled, click the "Connect" button. This will both save your site in the list, and log you into your account, so that you can make sure everything works right.

Uploading your files

Now that you are connected to your hosting space, it is time to transfer the PrestaShop files from your computer to your server.

In FileZilla (or any other FTP client), browse your local folders until you find the one that contains the PrestaShop files. Keep it open.

In the "Remote site" section (on the right), browse to the location where you want PrestaShop to be publicly available (root of the domain, sub-folder, sub-domain...). This can change a lot, depending on both your host and your needs:

  • Your host:
    • Some hosts may require you to place your files in a specific folder, such as /htdocs, /public_html, /web, /www, /yourdomainname.com, etc.
    • Other hosts' FTP server will simply log you directly into the proper upload space.
  • Your needs:
    • If you want your shop to be the main website for your domain name (i.e., http://www.exemple.com), upload PrestaShop at the root folder of the upload space (which may depend on the host).
    • If you want your shop to be in a sub-folder of your domain name (http://www.exemple.com/shop), you must first create said folder through FileZilla (right-click and choose "Create directory"), then upload PrestaShop in that folder.
    • If you want your shop to be in a sub-domain of your domain name (http://shop.exemple.com), you must first create said sub-domain. This depends on your host: you might be able to do it simply by adding a new folder with your FTP client, or you might have to create the sub-domain through your host's administration panel. Read you're hosts support documentation first. Once created, browse to the sub-domain's folder, and upload PrestaShop there.

On FileZilla's left side, you should now have the local folder where you uncompressed the PrestaShop files, and on the right side, the destination location. If you haven't done it yet, uploading is simple: select all files and folders from the local folder (use Ctrl-A), and either drag & drop them to the remote folder, or right-click on the selection and choose "Upload" in the context menu.

After a short while, all of PrestaShop's files and folders should be online. Great!

Creating a database for your shop

Before you can actually install PrestaShop, you need to make sure your MySQL server has a database ready for PrestaShop's data, and if not, create one. This can be done using the free phpMyAdmin tool, which should come pre-installed on your web server most of the time (read you host's documentation). Connect to it using your account credentials, which your host provided you with. It should be accessible through a standard URL, tied to your domain name, or that of your host.

In the left column, you can see the current databases. Some of them should be left alone, because they are either used by phpMyAdmin or by the host: phpmyadmin, mysql, information_schema, performance_schema and others. Read your host's documentation to know if one of these can be used as a default database.

Either way, you can create a brand new database using the central form named "Create new database". Simply enter a unique name, and click "Create". The name of the database will be added to the list on the left. You can now use it to store PrestaShop's data.

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Some hosts prefer to have customers use a graphic control panel, such as cPanel, Plesk or a custom-made one. Make sure you read your host's support documentation about handling MySQL databases, and create a database for your shop by following their specific explanations.

Launching the auto-installer

Now comes the part where it all comes together: installing PrestaShop.

The installation process is quite easy, as it is streamlined by PrestaShop's auto-installer. To launch it, simply browse to PrestaShop's location on your hosting: the script will automatically detect that it is not yet installed, and will take you to the auto-installer. From there on, you just have to read and click.

Step 1: Welcome page

This page is a quick intro into the installation process.

  1. Select the language in which you wish the installer to be.
  2. Select whether you wish to install or update PrestaShop (if this is your first time, you can only install).
  3. Read the PrestaShop license (the Open Software License 3.0), and agree to it.

To access the next step, you must check the "I agree to the above terms and conditions" box, then click "Next". If you do not explicitly agree to the license, you cannot install PrestaShop.

Step 2 & 3: System compatibility & system configuration.

The second page makes a quick check of all the server parameters on your host, and if nothing wrong is found, takes you directly to the third step.

System compatibility

This page checks that everything is OK with your server configuration: PHP settings, permissions on files and folders.

If anything goes wrong, the installer stops you here, enabling you to see the few technical details that need fixing, be it changing the PHP configuration or updating the file permissions.

While changing the PHP configuration can only be done on a case-by-case basis depending on your level of access to your server, and therefore cannot be explained here, updating the file permissions is easier to explain. This will require you to access your remote files, and therefore use your FTP client (such as FileZilla).

Log-in to your server account using your FTP client, browse to the PrestaShop folder, and find the folders that are marked by the installer as in need of a permission change.

CHMOD

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Changing file/folder permission on a Unix/Linux system is called a "CHMOD", after the command of the same name – you can find an explanation of file permissions here). Giving them "write permission" is called "doing a CHMOD 755" or "a CHMOD 775", depending on the host.

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Some hosts might require you to use CHMOD 777, although it is not recommended for anything more than a one-time need.
If you have to use CHMOD 777 in order to install PrestaShop, make sure to switch to a safer setting (775, 755 or even 644) once you are done installing.

In any case, thanks to FileZilla (and most FTP clients), you can change permissions easily and graphically: once you have found a file or folder that needs such a change, right-click on it from your FTP client, and in the context menu choose "File permissions...". It will open a small window.

Depending on your server configuration (which you don't always have a hand at), you'll need to both "Read" and "Execute" columns of boxes checked, and at least the "Owner" and "Group" rows for the "Write" column. Some host might require you to have the public "Write" box checked, but be careful with that: have anyone be able to edit the content of your folder is rarely a good thing.

For folders that the installer is needing a recursive permission change on, you can check the "Recurse in subdirectories" box.

Regularly check that you have made the correct check by relaunching the installer's compatibility checks: click "Refresh these settings" as often as necessary.

Once all indicators are green, you can click "Next". If you cannot have them all green, at least make sure the installer displays "Your configuration is valid, click next to continue!"

System configuration

This page contains a form that enables you to tell PrestaShop where the database server is, and which database it should use, along with a few other details.

Database configuration

Fill all the fields with the connection information provided by your web-host, along with the name of the database you chose/created for PrestaShop, then click the "Verify my database settings" button in order to check that everything is fine. If so, the installer will display the following message: "Database is connected".

Choose the prefix for your tables. "ps_" is the default, resulting in the PrestaShop SQL table having names such as "ps_cart" or "ps_wishlist"; but if you need to install more than one instances of PrestaShop on the same database, then you must use a unique prefix for each install.

Installation type

Two modes are available:

  • Lite mode: a blank and empty PrestaShop will be installed. It will have no modules, no theme, and no demo products/categories: you will have to build it all yourself. This is great if you know what you are doing.
  • Full mode: PrestaShop will be installed with a theme, more than a hundred modules, and some demo products and categories. This is great for newcomers, as it helps you learn how to use PrestaShop... and can of course server as a good basis for your own store, after removing the demo products and categories! In effect, it is also highly recommended to install PrestaShop in full mode, as many of its features come from its numerous modules. Without them, PrestaShop is very bare bones.
E-mail delivery set-up

PrestaShop relies heavily on e-mail for notifications, both for the shop owner and its customers. This form enables you to test whether the current server configuration lets you send e-mails using PHP's mail() function. If this is not the case, then check the "Configure SMTP manually" box in order to configure your own mail server. Note that this is reserved to advanced users.

Click "Next", and the installer will start filling the database with tables and data. This might take a few minutes on slower servers.

Step 3: Shop configuration

This is where you can already start customizing your shop: give it a name and a logo, indicate its main activity, and indicate the personal information for the shop owner (which has legal binding in most countries)...

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Do not use a colon in your store's name, as it might prevent some features from working (for instance, e-mail sending might fail).

You can replace the colon with a dash if you need to have two sections in the title. For instance, use "MyStore – The best place for items to buy" instead of "MyStore: The best place for items to buy".

Note that the logo will appear:

  • On all of your store's pages.
  • In your back-office.
  • In all of the e-mails sent to your customers.
  • In all of your contractual documents (bills, product return authorizations, etc.)

It is highly recommended to not keep the default PrestaShop logo, for obvious reasons.

Using the "Catalog mode only" option, you can choose to use PrestaShop simply as catalog, even if temporarily. This will disable all purchase and payment features. This is useful when you are setting your shop up for first time, as it insures that no purchase can be made until you are ready to let people shop on your site. You can remove the catalog mode later, in the "Preferences" > "Products" sub-tab.

The page ends with the "Additional benefits" section, which presents modules that are specially promoted in the installer. You can choose to have them installed or not.

Click "Next": your shop is online!

Completing the installation

You are almost done!

As you can read on the final page of the installation process, there are a couple of last actions to perform before you can call it a success.

An easy way to improve your installation's security is to delete or rename some key files and folders. This is done using your FTP client, directly on the server.

Items to delete:

  • "install" folder.
  • "readme_*" files (5 of them).
  • "CHANGELOG" file.

Item to rename:

  • "admin" folder: you should give it a unique name, so that no attacker can access your admin files. For instance, "admin42", "secretFolder" or "xyz123" – anything unique.
    Write down the new name for your admin folder, as you will from now on access it directly.

Congratulations! Installation is now complete. You can now go to the administration login form by entering the new admin folder's name:

Log in to the PrestaShop back-office and start filling out your products catalog and configuring the many settings to suit your tastes and needs.

Finally, in order to close all potential doors, use your FTP client to update the files and folders permissions to 664, or 666 if your host requires it. If it turns out low access rights prevent some modules to work, you should set permissions back to 755.

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You should regularly back up your database, ideally on different computers, in case of problems related to hardware or security.

Misc. information

Keep a test version at hand!

After you have completed setting up your shop to get it just the way you want it, but before officially opening it to the buying public, we strongly recommend that you install a local test version on your personal computer (using WAMP for Windows, MAMP for Mac, or LAMP for Linux, or XAMPP for any of those platforms), or elsewhere on your hosting server.

This second instance will be useful as a pre-production environment in which you can carry out all future changes to your PrestaShop online store, without affecting the live version. This way, if an error should occur, your live store remains intact and untouched.

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This method is for modifying PrestaShop application files only. Do not use a test version of the SQL database.

After you have confirmed that your test version works as it should, copy the test version over the live version. It is best to do this after peak usage hours, and with your store properly and temporarily disabled from within the PrestaShop back-office.

Checking for the GD library

On a default installation of PHP, the GD Library should be turned on, but if that's not the case for your install, the standard Windows instructions are:

  1. In the root directory of your PHP folder, open the php.ini file.
  2. Uncomment the extension=php_gd2.dll line (about half-way through the file, in the middle of a long list of extensions) by deleting the ";" at the start of the line.
  3. Restart the PHP services.

If you have no access to the php.ini file (which is often the case in shared hosting), contact your host about your hosting needs.

Activating PHP5

Oftentimes, dedicated or shared servers have both PHP 4 and PHP 5 available, but only PHP4 is activated by default.

To install PrestaShop, PHP 5 must be activated. If you attempt to run PrestaShop using PHP 4, you will receive numerous errors, including this very common message:

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Please do not hesitate to post a bug report concerning the tips needed to make PrestaShop run on your hosting service, on PrestaShop's Forge (you will need an account). We will add them to this guide as we receive them.

Important

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If the suggested way to activate PHP5 is to add some specific configuration rules to your .htaccess file, do not add them directly to the file itself!

The only clean way to customize your PrestaShop install's .htaccess file is to use the "Tools" tab's "Generators" sub-tab, and to paste your configuration lines in the "Specific Configuration" text-field. This way, you ensure that PrestaShop will never overwrite your .htaccess, thus losing these important lines.

The following is a list of procedures of which we are currently aware of:

1&1

Add this line to the "Specific configuration" text-field from the Tools > Generators sub-tab:

For URL re-writing, add these lines:

Free.fr

Add this line to the "Specific configuration" text-field from the Tools > Generators sub-tab:

OVH

Add this line to the "Specific configuration" text-field from the Tools > Generators sub-tab:

To deactivate global registers:

GoDaddy

To View Your PHP Version:

  1. Log in to your Account Manager.
  2. From the Products section, click Web Hosting.
  3. Next to the hosting account you want to use, click Launch.

In the Server section, your PHP Version displays.

To Change Your PHP Version:

  1. From the Content menu, select Programming Languages.
  2. Select the PHP version you want to use, and then click Continue.
  3. Click Update.

Changes can take up to 24 hours to complete.

Lunarpages shared hosting
  1. Enter cPanel. It should be located at http://www.(your_domain).(com/net/org/etc)/cpanel
  2. Enter your account username and password in the box that appears.
  3. A new page appears. Go to the bottom row of icons in the page and click the icon titled "Enable/Disable PHP 5"
  4. A new page appears. Click "Add PHP 5 To Your Account!".

Your language change request is submitted. Please allow up to 24 hours for the change to be processed by the hosting server.

Updating PrestaShop

We have a dedicated guide for that: Updating PrestaShop.

Uninstalling PrestaShop

PrestaShop is very easy to uninstall:

  1. Delete the /prestaShop folder (or the name you gave it after the installation, if you renamed it) from the main directory of your Web server (generally /www).
  2. Delete your PrestaShop database, using phpMyAdmin.
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You will lose all information related to your customers, orders, invoices, products, settings, etc.

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