Is your Zencart slow? Zencart optimization guide

Did you know that, unless the users really need to see the content on your site, most wait no longer than 5 seconds before moving to another site. And with the huge number of sites on the internet, they have MANY choices. To avoid losing potential customers, one of the most important things you want to make sure is that your users can experience lightning fast speed when they visit your site, and here are several tips for you:

Don’t skim on hosting: most small business store owners are tight on budget, but that’s no reason to opt for the sluggish 5usd/month hosting. If you are on one of those hosts, there is a 100% chance that you will have to share the server’s resources with hundreds if not thousands other sites. Imagine what happens if some of those other sites utilize some resource intensive script?

Also, “shared hosting” is the most invulnerable type of hosting plan, if a hacker got into one of your neighbors’ system they can find many backdoors to attack your site.

Zencart has a bunch of Certified Hosts which you can check here. If you are in need of 24/7, 365 days a year support plus under 30 mins response time then JaguarPC’s services are highly recommend: Jaguar VPS let you share the server with a small number of other sites, and you have FULL control over the hosting and can install the softwares you need (by the way, open the ticket to have them install server’s related softwares for you, it’s more convenient and most of the time the cost is….ZERO). If your site later grows to have lots of visitors and products you can ask them to move you to a dedicated server which has all the resources dedicated to you only (ask them to move the whole site for you, again the cost is ZERO).

What if you can’t upgrade host now or you are already on a very good host (and still slow)? There are many settings which you can easily adjust to optimize your performance. One important note: if you can avoid using attributes at all, don’t use attributes or at least try to reduce the number of attributes. Zencart 1.3.8 and previous versions have a huge performance problem with product attributes.

There are more you can do, first take a look at several modules and tweaks provided by data-diggers on his site. There are many useful modules for zencart on the site, but do pay special attention to Query Cache module, it really helps with performance optimization.

Optimize your images: if your sites server images that are more than several hundred KB in size, you can’t expect the site to loads fast. No matter how fast your host is, if your users are on slow connections then you can say goodbye to many potential customers. Make sure you optimize your images before uploading to the site by:

  1. Cropping or Resizing large images. Most products don’t need images that are larger than the users’ screens
  2. Use slightly lower quality images. You can reduce the image quality a bit without really affecting users’ experiences.
  3. Install Image Handler2 which will automatically helps you to crop and resize images.

Compress CSS and Minify Javascript files: yes, you can reduce your css and js file size by compressing and minifying. It is also recommended that you should try to combine multiple css files into one if possible (same for js files), less files = less server requests = faster load time.

Special Note: RubikIntegration is going to release a FREE module that will automatically compress, minify, and combining css and javascript files for you. So make sure you subscribe to our newsletter or our Feed to get the news!!!

Edit: Yes it is released here:

Using other modules: MageneticOne has released a (paid) cache module which claims to help, if you want you can buy it here for a special price. And if you do use it, let us know if it really helps.


  1. Speed up your website with CSS Sprite | RubikIntegration says:

    [...] 1. The server has to process too many things before sending back the output to the user’s browser: in this case we have to optimize the server’s process. By the way, if your Zencart is slow, have a look at our Zencart Speed Up Guide. [...]

  2. Speed up your Zencart site by minifying your CSS and JS files | RubikIntegration says:

    [...] I have mentioned in Zencart Performance Optimization Guide, you can combine all your css files (per page) into 1 single file and also minify(*) that file to [...]

  3. Sami Salahat says:

    That JaguarPC hosting company you recommend don’t answer their phone. It is sad when you are a hosting company and you don’t answer your phone. This is the second day I try to call them during business hours and I get no where. I agree that hosting plays a big role in your business but if something goes wrong on your website it would be nice to have someone you can call. I am in need of a good host but it seems that none of the recommended hosters in Zen Cart forum or here actually answer their phones.

    • admin says:

      Interesting, which number did you call? I have just tried to call them via their number and got answer right away. BTW, only their tech support work 24/7, the sales department only work during business hour. So if you want to call them not in business hour, you have to call tech support number (for questions only related to tech support of course)


  4. Tony says:

    I am using the MagneticOne caching mod and it helps, not as much as advertised, but it knocked off 0.8 sec on my homepage load speed.

  5. Tien Trinh says:

    Thanks. This is very useful. it has taken me for ages to work a few things out by myself. Great post!


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