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About to buy X-Cart - Free Advice

About to buy X-Cart - Free Advice
Category: X-Cart Help and Advice
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Synopsis: If you are at the point of buying and installing X-Cart - this article will help you with some key decisions which fall into that well known category of "things I'd wish I'd known before I started" - things that will impact performance, SEO and security.
Which version?
This is the big question, and currently is quite confusing due to the complicated roadmap for X-Cart version releases.  The problem with roadmaps is that there is ALWAYS a better version around the corner or on the horizon.  First thing to remember when you "buy" X-Cart is that you are not buying a particular version. You are buying a licence to use their software - and a lifetime licence it is too.  This means you can install any version you wish and upgrade to any future version as and when.

So right now, the latest version is 4.3.x, with 4.4 around the corner, and version 5 on the horizon. 4.3 has come in for a bit of criticism within the industry, but this is mainly because it doesn't have many new features or is as good as expected in it's coding. But it is still an improvement on previous versions, and here we are deciding which version to install - so older versions such 4.1 and 4.2 are best ignored, as they will be a bigger job to upgrade in the future.

Version 5 is too far off still to consider waiting for. Waiting for any version of course is going to cost you in lost sales and opportunities, but having read this, check with us or X-Cart for a release date of 4.4 before jumping in as it's release could be imminent.

 Hosting X-cart
You are going to need somewhere to "host" your shop of course. X-Cart is a complicated bit of software so it needs the right environment. Don't let that put you off, just choose a host with experience in x-cart and with good support.  Hopefully you haven't just jumped in and chosen one of the "big boys" out of a magazine like 1&1.  If you have, you probably have 30 day money back - use it now and find someone who will give your shop the support its needs - this is not a standard website, but something much more involved. Click here to read more about choosing a host

OK, that has to be said first, as many people don't consider it until it is too late. Yes, X-Cart is complicated at times, but it is worth it. Lots of features and very usable. The great thing about X-Cart is you are going to be using a popular product that has been around a few years.  This means it is well tested, so you are benefiting from the feedback of all the customers of all the shops out there.  So if there is a question or a problem, you can be sure that it has been covered before.  The answers can usually be found in the forum, from X-Cart support or directly from developers like ourselves.  Because of this support network, which no other product can boast, you will be online with complete peace of mind.  The key is knowing when to ask for help, as ploughing a lone furrow is just costing you money in your time and lost sales.

Once you have bought your software and hosting package, don't forget you can ask us to install it for you. If you are experienced and confident with internet software then you should be OK, however, if setting file permissions such as "777" and "755" and configuring databases is all new to you, you may want to leave it to a professional. We can take care of this for you for around $50.

If though you are going to do it yourself - the most important thing to remember, is not to take the default option and install it in a subfolder called "xcart".  This is just a signpost to hackers who google for this, looking for easy targets - as most likely if you've made this basic mistake, you've made others. If you must have a subfolder, call it something more generic such as "shop" or "store".  However, there is rarely any need for any subfolder - installing in the root folder is best, for one, it makes it easier for search engine spiders to find your pages.

If you have an existing, non e-commerce store - it is best to combine the 2 into one single entity. Bolting x-cart into or onto an existing shop is one way, but far better to build your shop around x-cart, using static pages for your content.  This looks more professional, is consistent, gives you less to manage, and gets your products into search engines quicker.

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