Zen Cart Error Message ‘MySQL server has gone away’

This Zen Cart tutorial deals with the error message which reads ‘MySQL server has gone away’. It occurs when zen cart attempts to retrieve information from it’s database, and the connection between Zen Cart and Mysql is unexpectedly terminated. The effects of this error message can range from being annoying, but somewhat benign, to being quite severe. As a general rule, you should address this issue as soon as possible in case the problem is serious. One example of this is if it turns out that the error message is showing because your database/s have been deleted.

There are several things that can cause the termination of zen cart’s communications with MySql, and trigger this error message. One of these is simply that another slow connection to external systems is being executed at the same time as your request. In this case, all you have to do is try again later. Another possibility is that your webserver is running slowly. This can happen if you have a lot of spam stored, or if your web hosting company has placed you on a server which is running too many other websites at once.

It is also possible that your hosting company may have configured your server so that database connections expire very quickly. It is common for web hosts to allow connections to remain open for thirty seconds or more. This varies from one host to another, and is heavily affected by factors such as the configuration of their other systems(I.e, PHP). You can contact your web hosting company to learn more about the configuration of your server. This information will either allow you to troubleshoot the issue yourself, or hand it off to them to see if they can fix it for you.

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Zen Cart Admin Home Page Is Loading Slowly Or Not At All

Zen Cart’s page loading time is affected by a variety of factors. This can make troubleshooting certain page speed related issues quite difficult at times. Before you get started on this problem, you should check to see if the storefront of your zen cart site is slow as well. If the same slowness shows up there, then your Zen Cart version server is not the problem, and this tutorial will not help you solve your problem. Your web server may be unable to communicate with the Zen Cart version server, either due to slowness, or the complete lack of a response. Try talking to your hosting company about why your server can’t access ping.zen-cart.com, and the possibility that there may be a DNS problem on your server.

If the page loading issues are occurring only in your admin area, however, keep on reading.

The problem is most likely occurring when your zen cart tries to contact the Zen Cart version server to check for updates after you first log into your admin area. If the server is unavailable, or unreachable, the admin screen will take a while to load while waiting for a response. You can easily fix this issue using one of two methods.

The first is to log into your admin area, navigate to Admin–> Configuration–> My Storeand disable the version checking here setting ‘Show if version update available’ to ‘0/false/off’.

The second option should only be used if you cannot log into your zen cart admin area at all. In this case, open your /admin/includes/local/skip-version-check.ini file in your favorite plain text editor, and find this code:


version_check=on

Change the ‘on’ to ‘off’, save the file, and upload it to your zen cart server.

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Zen Cart Customer’s Downloads Did Not Activate

This Zen Cart tutorial is meant to help zen cart users and store owners better understand the process behind the purchase and activation of downloadable products, since it is actually not as straight forward as one might think. It is still a very simple process, but on occasion, you might have that one confused customer who pays for a downloadable product, and does not get access to the activation link immediately afterward.

First of all, it is important for you to know that in zen cart stores that have been set up properly, download links are not made available to your customers until you have received payment for the product. Most payment modules commonly used with zen cart are configured so that new orders which contain downloadable products are automatically marked as ‘Orders Status: Pending’. In a nutshell, this means that your zen cart store will assume that you have not received your payment, and therefore, it should not give out the download link to the customer, until you tell it differently.

After you have verified through your payment gateway that the money has been safely transferred, you can activate the download links for your customer. This is very easy do do. Just log in to your zen cart admin area, and select the correct order. Click on Edit, and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Here, you will find a menu, where you can change the order’s status from ‘pending’ to ‘processing’. This tells your zen cart that you have received your payment, and it is okay to let the customer download the product. They will now be able to do this by navigating to their ‘My Account’ page and selecting the order.

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Can Zen Cart Run On Servers Using PHP As CGI?

Most Zen Cart experts, ourselves included, recommend running zen cart on standard webserver configurations, where PHP as used apache ‘module’. There are some hosts, however, who insist on running PHP as a CGI application. While you can still run a Zen Cart on these kinds of servers, you will find that there are more limitations to what you can do with your zen cart store. Most of these have to do with extra restrictions that are placed on data storage and processing limits. The file permissions you are allowed to set in this mode are a good example of these limitations. The highest they can be set is 755, which is too low for some purposes.

If you must host your zen cart store on a webserver that is set up this way, there are a few things you can do to get the best performance from your website.

Set the ‘Maximum simultaneous processes’ to 1024
Set ‘Process timeout’ to 10 seconds

There are also a few changes you should make to the standard installation process when your webserver is configured like this. The most important thing to remember is that you should not change ANY file permissions, except for at the end of the process, when you will need now set the configure.php files to 444 permissions. This means that the file is read-only, and no one will be able to edit it unless they change the permissions to a higher state.

The reason for setting these limits, and leaving the file permissions so low, is to avoid getting a ton of 500 internal server errors. These kinds of errors are common on webservers that use PHP as CGI, and they can build up rather quickly, and create a number of problems.

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Zen Cart Why Are My Product Titles Showing Twice?

In Zen Cart, product pages are among the most important on your entire ecommerce site. It is critical that these pages look good, and function properly, because this is where customers will make the decision to purchase an item, or not. As with the rest of your zen cart site, there are many, many ways to break these pages, or cause them to display bugs and glitches. In this tutorial, we will take a look at a very specific problem which can be encountered on this page. Namely, a slight bug whereby the product name shows twice, in different places on the page.

In this scenario, let’s say you are viewing a product info page on your website. You would see the product title at the top of the page, where it is supposed to be, but it would also display in place of the product image thumbnail.

The cause behind this glitch is actually very simple. In Zen Cart, many images include an ALT tag in the html which calls them. Most often, this ALT tag is just the product name, or maybe a few relevant keywords. When the images being called are not found in your zen cart directories, the ALT text will show alone in place of the image. This can make it look like the product name is duplicating itself on the page.

Just as the reason for this glitch is simple, so is the solution. All you need to do is find the name of the missing image which is being called, and create an image using that name. Save this image to the appropriate folder in your zen cart, and reload the page to see the new image!

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Zen Cart Set Products To Be Both Physical And Virtual

In Zen Cart, it is possible to configure products so that they are categorized as both physical/shippable and virtual/downloadable products. There are very few instances in which this functionality is useful, but if you happen to find yourself needing to set a product up this way, look no further! In this Zen Cart tutorial, we will teach you how to properly configure a product in this manner.

The first thing you should do is to check and see if your products are set to ‘Always Free Shipping’ or ‘0 weight’. If this is the case, go check Admin–>Configuration–>Shipping/Packaging, and make sure that these settings match those of your products.

The main difference between a product that is only physical or virtual, and one that is a combination of the two(Sometimes called a ‘combo’ product) has to do with the weight attribute assigned to any given product type. Unlike a physical or virtual product, combo products can have their Weight added to the Product and/or the Attribute. Which one you choose to add it to is not really all that critical.

To actually create a combo product, mark it as’Product is Virtual: No, Shipping Address Required’, and ‘Always Free Shipping: Special’ .

Since Physical/Virtual combo products require a shipping address by default, zen cart will automatically calculate the weight as it usually would for a product which does not require a shipping address. This allows the shipping to function properly, despite the fact that the product is also marked as downloadable.

After marking the product in this manner, simply go on to configure it with the Special and Shippable/Download Combo, including the weight on the product and/or Attribute(s) for shipping. You can add additional attributes to the download as needed.

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Zen Cart Pages Are Blank Except For ‘ ’ Junk Symbols

Zen Cart is generally a very reliable shopping cart program. It can be quite testy at times, though, and there are some surprisingly simple issues that can end up breaking your entire website if they are not fixed quickly. In this zen cart tutorial, we will take a look at one of these scenarios. The problem demonstrated here is pretty straightforward. Let’s say that you have encountered some pages blank pages across your website. These pages are completely white and empty, except for these characters: ‘’.

This is caused by characters(most likely from an unsupported char set), which have ‘invaded’ one of more of the files in your zen cart store. There are a number of ways in which these characters can be dumped into your files, but the most common is through file editing programs. Whenever you edit zen cart files, you should always do so in a plain text editor. Anything else is likely to insert characters like these, which can break your site horribly. Even worse, most of them are invisible, so you won’t know they are there until it’s too late!

To fix this problem, you will need a bit of help from the zen cart debugger log files. Look through them until you find an error message that looks something like this:


PHP Warning:  Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/your_name/public_html/includes/languages/english/header.php:1) in 'xxxx' on line 'xxx'.

This error message is very important, as it tells you exactly what line, in what file the unsupported characters have been dumped. Once you know which file has been affected, all you need to do is edit the file(In a plain text editor!), and save it in “UTF-8 without BOM” encoding/format.

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Zen Cart Error Message ‘Authorize.net SIM…’ Part Two

This Zen Cart tutorial is the second installment in a series which is dedicated to explaining the error message which reads: ‘An error occurred while trying to report this transaction to the merchant. An e-mail has been sent to the merchant informing them of the error. The following is the result of the attempt to charge your credit card.’ In this segment, we will go over the last few reasons why this error message might be displaying on your zen cart site.

One possibility is that Authorize.net’s server IP address could be blocked in your zen cart store’s server firewall or .htaccess rules. Check your apache errorlog to find out if this is the case, and if it is, unblock Authorize.net’s IP.

Another scenario is that an invalid URL might have been entered into your Authorize.net ‘Relay Response URL’ and/or ‘Receipt URL’ settings. For the most part, these fields should be left blank.

The problem can also be caused by an invalid or poorly configured SSL certificate. If the SSL certificate you are using for your website is either of these, and Authorize.net detects that your site problems in SSL mode while they are attempting to connect to your website, then they will be hit with an error message or delayed response. This will trigger this error message. If this is the case, then you may need to purchase a new SSL certificate from your hosting company, or reconfigure your current SSL certificate so that it is set up correctly.

Another possibility is that you may have set some invalid rewrite rules. This usually happens during the creation or modification of zen cart .htaccess files. It is especially common to encounter this error if URLs in this file have been rewritten for illegitimate seo addons.

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Zen Cart Error Message ‘Authorize.net SIM…’ Part One

This Zen Cart tutorial deals with the error message which reads: ‘An error occurred while trying to report this transaction to the merchant. An e-mail has been sent to the merchant informing them of the error. The following is the result of the attempt to charge your credit card.’

This error message will most likely be encountered by your customers at checkout. It is a message that should be taken care of pretty quickly, as it can have a big negative impact on the number of customers who end up going through the checkout process, and purchasing items from your website. This is an error message that has many possible causes. In this tutorial, we will go over these causes, and tell you how you can fix each of them.

The first possibility is that your zen cart website may be taking too long to respond when Authorize.net sends transaction authorization to your site, and/or redirects customers back to your site from Authorize.net. The maximum time permitted for your site to respond to these interactions is 10 seconds. If your server takes longer to load pages, it is an indication of a more serious underlying issue with your server speed. There are many things that can cause this issue, and the best place to start when trying to remedy it is to speak with your hosting company. You should also take a look at our tutorials on page speed optimization.

The next cause is much simpler: your site could be Down For Maintenance mode. When in you put your site down for maintenance, you can’t test SIM transactions, which can lead to this issue. If this is the case, simply take your site out of maintenance mode.

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Zen Cart How To Automate Your SitemapXML Updates

Zen Cart is one of the best shopping cart programs out there. It is a favorite among ecommerce businesses because it typically requires very little maintenance, which gives store owners more time to themselves. Even though maintenance is minimal for normal operation, however, there are some circumstances under which maintenance tasks can build up, and create what can seem like a mountain of work for the store owners. There are many practices which can lead to this, but most commonly, it is found in stores where products and/or EZPages are constantly being added/edited/updated.

Luckily, a Zen Cart plugin exists to help with this issue. It’s called SitemapXML(formerly ‘Google Sitemap’), and it’s job is to generate pre-formatted XML site maps for Google. The only problem is that this site map needs to be manually updated from the admin area from time to time. This can take up an annoying amount of time under some circumstances, but this process can be automated, which is what this tutorial will focus on. It should be noted that in order to do this, you will need to be able to write and schedule a cron job on your web hosting account.

Before you begin, make sure that you already have SitemapXML installed. After this, you will need to call the page generating the XML file with a cron job using cURL. Go to your CPanel area as provided by your web hosting company, and schedule the cron job to run as often as you think is necessary. They should run more or less after every time you make an update. This is the code you will need to set in order to automate the process:


curl http://www.YOUR-WEBSITE.com/index.php?main_page=sitemapxml
CRON JOB 1:

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