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Prepare for osCommerce. All you need to know before you start

multimixer | learn | Saturday November 27 2010

You decided to use osCommerce. That’s great, because osCommerce is one of the best ecommerce systems available. How to start? Where to start? Let’s take everything from the very beginning

First of all you will need a domain name and a hosting account. There are various providers that do this, it’s up to you to choose one of them.

First things to make clear:

  1. It’s absolutely indifferent for osCommerce what domain name you’ll use. It can be www.mystore.com or www.kuku.com.
  2. osCommerce doesn’t require any special hosting plan. You don’t need to buy any of the “e-commerce ready” type of hosting plans like many hosting companies offer.
  3. You don’t need to sign up for any merchant account with yahoo, google etc. You don’t need to sign up anywhere
  4. osCommerce is free software. There are no fees to pay to anyone. There are also no “free gifts” to get from anyone

osCommerce is a standalone shopping cart program (you can say e-commerce program) that has very few hosting requirements to run smoothly. It be installed on any PHP enabled web server that can connect to a MySQL database. In other words, make sure your hosting plan include at least one database

Your osCommerce hosting plan should include

  • PHP 5+
  • MySQL 5+
  • cPanel access
  • phpMyAdmin access

To say the truth there are very few, if any, hosts that do not offer this fot a couple of euros per month. The above describe a simple, common hosting plan.  So, please, don’t get on somebody’s hook who will try to sell you any “e-commerce ready” or “osCommerce optimized”  hosting for more money

In case you ask about my personal preference, I can only say that I’m very satisfied with the host I use now. You can take a look if you are interested, in case you want to start with them I would say that a basic “business package” is all you need for your start. Later on, depending on your traffic, the number of products you have etc, you can upgrade to an other plan anytime. Feel free to get in touch in case you are not sure about what kind of hosting you need

Avoid “installers”

One more thing of importance: Avoid any of the “one click” installation programs like “fantastico” or others. It can be that your host, or the one who offers the installation script does not offer the latest version of osCommerce. Also, you will miss a big part of the necessary understanding about how things work, and you will find your self asking questions like “where is the catalog” or “how can I go live” and such

Use the original

Don’t download osCommerce from anywhere else but from the official osCommerce website. You will see there 2 available versions: osCommerce Online Merchant v2.3.1 and osCommerce Online Merchant v3.0 Alpha 5. Take the first one, version 2.3.1. It may give the impression that version 3 is the latest but it is not. Version 3 is in “alpha” stage, that means it is still under development and not ready for production. Version2.3.1 is the latest stable version and this is the one you should use

I wish you a good start with osCommerce. In the next article I’ll explain how to install osCommerce easily. If you have any questions feel free to ask, or post a comment

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