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Setting up Apache, PHP and MySQL manually


Here's a brief overview of the steps to setup a Apache, PHP and MySQL in a Windows environment and also refer to various related tools to maintain and work with most of the tasks related to Joomla!.

In order to make the instruction clear and succinct, we will assume that wherever we are not stating any explicit instruction, you will let the default setup paths apply without modification.


If you already have any of the prepackaged AMP stacks installed on your machine:

  • Going back to your AMP stack will be difficult. The various installations we will do below will overwrite registry values and make general environment changes. (This applies at least to the PC/Windows environment.)
  • If you need to maintain any configuration (Apache, MySQL or PHP) or data (your existing websites and related databases), before making attempts of following this instruction, make proper backups.

(needs to be expanded with specific advice on how to achieve the above...)

MySQL Setup

  1. Download the appropriate MySQL installer for your platform.
  2. Start the installation and choose Custom installation path.
  3. Click through the whole installation process and click Finish.
  4. You will now be presented with the MySQL Server Instance Configuration Wizard.
    1. Make sure that the Standard Configuration is selected and go to Next.
    2. If you already have MySQL installed you may get the message A Windows service with the name MySQL already exists. Please uninstall this service correctly or choose a different name for the new service. If so, choose an alternative service name.
    3. In the next window check for Include Bin Directory in Windows PATH. By doing this you will be able to access the various MySQL utilities from the command line.
    4. In the next window you will be able to create password for your root MySQL user, the user with highest access level on your server.
    5. In the final window all the changes you have configured so far will be saved when you press the Execute button and the windows service for this instance will be started.


  1. In order to make the instruction as accessible as possible we skipped a number of configuration scenarios of your MySQL instance, such as being able to relocate your database files.
  2. MySQL installs as default with a STRICT mode which might give rise to some errors when using extensions or applications that haven't considered this.

MySQL Resources

  • HeidiSQL An easy to use and extensible full-client replacement of phpMyAdmin under constant development.
  • MySQL Workbench Various tools among which you will appreciate the Administrator, which helps you to configure your MySQL instance. Requires the .Net framework.
  • phpMyAdmin A powerful web based MySQL client for administrating anything related to MySQL.
  • MySQL documentation

Apache Setup

  1. Download the installer of your preference.
  2. Run the installer wizard and click through each step until you reach the Server Information window. Give the options below respectively and in the given order in each of the fields unless you have any specific requirements as to how your web server is setup:
    1. localhost,
    2. localhost and
    3. admin@localhost
  3. Click through the wizard which will install and start the Apache web server as a windows service.
  4. In the windows status bar you will now see a pink colored feather with a green colored play button indicating Apache is up and running. Point your browser to http://localhost/ and you should get a page indicating its working.
  5. Let us now go to the location where Apache is installed which commonly is at C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2 and go through the various directories
    1. bin - contains the various binary files some of which are listed below. In order to access these applications, most of which are command based, we would need to add the path to the bin directory in our global PATH variable. To do that, right click on My Computer > Properties > Advanced > Environments Variables and in the System Variables list locate and select the Variable PATH and click on Edit and add a trailing a semi-colon, if not already there, followed by the absolute path to your bin directory. Click out from the System Properties dialogue by accepting.
      1. httpd.exe which is the Apache webserver itself, which is spawned to several child processes while serving as many simultaneous incoming clients requests as required by MaxClients directive;
      2. ab.exe is a benchmarking tool that comes with Apache allowing you to see how well your application can perform per time unit
    2. conf - folder where various configuration files are located of which the following are of most interest in our case
      1. httpd.conf - most of the server directives are located in this file and for easy access you should associate the .conf file type with a user friendly editor, i.e. anything other than the default Notepad.
      2. extra\httpd-vhosts.conf - contains directives that would allow you use your local server as virtual host, i.e. able to run several servers on your PC. One usage scenario is that during a development phase if you want to map the actual domain you are working for to your local copy, you would be able to do so by making minor tweaks in this file. We will discuss this in more detail below.
    3. htdocs - the default web server root, this is where the http://localhost/ is mapped, i.e. if you don't reconfigure it in httpd.conf above.
    4. logs - access and error logs, when trying to address various issues related to your server or even your application

Apache Resources

PHP Setup

  1. Download PHP and choose commonly VC6 x86 Thread Safe in Zip format. The various options have to do with how the PHP code base was compiled to binary and is probably nothing you should worry about for now.
  2. Create a folder under your C:\Program Files\ (or wherever your program directory is located) a folder called PHP.
  3. Locate your downloaded Zip file and move it to the newly created folder and unpack it directly into the folder.
  4. Let us now add the PHP path to our global PATH variable by following the instruction above.

Configuring PHP

The configuration amounts to editing the php.ini file. A sample file for different scenarios is already in your PHP folder. Let us rename php.ini-development to php.ini and open it in your favourite text editor. The common values to tweak are as follows and all of these variables are well documented in the php.ini file. (Note that this is a server wide setting applying to all your projects.):

  • max_execution_time - whenever you have scripts that run for too long and the server returns various unexpected results which you think is due to not being able to run through the whole process

  • memory_limit

  • error_reporting

  • display_errors

  • log_errors - a variable you would need to take note of in production scenarios

  • upload_tmp_dir

  • upload_max_filesize

  • extension_dir' - in order to avoid complications we will point out the directory where the following extensions are located by uncommenting this variable and assign the absolute location of the folder. The complete line should read as follows extension_dir = "C:\Program Files\PHP\ext"

  • Dynamic extensions section contains various additional modules that you want to be loaded with, and the commented ones are those that comes prepackaged with PHP and can be found in the ext directory in your PHP folder. If you want to activate any, just remove the commenting as you should do with the following extensions:

    • php_curl.dll
    • php_gd2.dll
    • php_mbstring.dll
    • php_mysql.dll
    • php_mysqli.dll
    • php_pdo.dll
    • php_pdo_mysql.dll
    • php_xsl.dll
  • session.save_path

Configuring Apache to Work with PHP

Now that we have configured PHP to work as we want it, let's go to Apache and do the same.

  • Open httpd.conf and in the "Dynamic Shared Object (DSO) Support" section add the following directives. (If you have located your PHP folder differently do make corresponding change for php5apache2_2.dll below.): LoadModule php5_module "C:/Program Files/PHP/php5apache2_2.dll" AddType application/x-httpd-php .php

  • In the DirectoryIndex add index.php and index.htm as possible files to serve when directory is requested as follows: DirectoryIndex index.html index.htm index.php

  • At the end of the file add the following line which will point out where the php.ini file is located PHPIniDir "C:/Program Files/PHP"

Restart and Test PHP

As soon as you make any change to php.ini, httpd.conf or any other configuration files, you need to restart Apache to see the effect of the changes. So let's now restart Apache by using the Apache Monitor tool that you can find in your Windows status bar. Hopefully you are not prompted with any dialogues and the Apache Monitor continues to run green.

We will now test that PHP is working. Go to your web server's document root (in the default case C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\htdocs) and add a file called phpinfo.php with the following content:

This will render a page containing information about your PHP setup and about the various modules/extensions that are currently loaded. Point your browser to <a href="http://localhost/phpinfo.php"

rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener">http://localhost/phpinfo.php.

Installing and Configuring xdebug

  1. Point your browser to Xdebug Installation Wizard. This page will assist you to find a suitable version of Xdebug.
  2. Copy the entire page of the phpinfo page we ran above and paste it into the textarea and follow the instructions provided to install.

XDebug Resources

  • The PHP Manual Excellent and up to date documentation with valuable additional comments from users. Downloadable versions are available.
  • The Xdebug 3 Documentation