This article explains how to install PHP 8 and Apache 2.4 on Windows 10 (64-bit).
Linux and macOS users often have Apache and PHP pre-installed or available via package managers. Windows 10 requires a little more effort. The steps below may work with other editions of Windows, PHP, and Apache, but check the documentation of each dependency for specific instructions.
PHP remains the most widespread and popular server-side programming language on the Web. It’s installed by most web hosts, and has a simple learning curve, close ties with the MySQL database, superb documentation, and an excellent collection of libraries to cut your development time. PHP may not be perfect, but it should be considered as an option for your next web application. It’s the language of choice for Facebook, Slack, Wikipedia, MailChimp, Etsy, and WordPress — the Content Management System which powers 40% of the web.
Why Install PHP Locally?
Installing PHP on your development PC allows you to safely create and test websites and applications without affecting the data or systems on your live server.
Alternative Installation Options
Before you jump in, there may be a simpler installation options…
Use an All-in-One package
These packages are easy to use, but they may not exactly match your live server. Installing Apache and PHP manually will help you learn more about the system and configuration options.
Use a Linux Virtual Machine
Microsoft Hyper-V (provided in Windows 10 Professional) and VirtualBox are free hypervisors which emulate a PC so you can install another operating system.
You can install any version of Linux, then follow its Apache and PHP installation instructions. Alternatively, distros such as Ubuntu Server provide them as standard (although they’re rarely the latest editions).
Use Windows Subsystem for Linux 2
WSL2 is also a virtual machine, but it’s tightly integrated into Windows so activities such as file sharing and
localhost resolution is seamless. You can install several Linux distros, so refer to the appropriate Apache and PHP instructions.
Docker creates a wrapper (known as a container) around pre-configured application dependencies such as Apache, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB, and most other web software. Containers look like full Linux Virtual Machines but are considerably more lightweight.
Docker is currently considered the best option for setting up a PHP development environment. Check out SitePoint’s article “Setting Up a Modern PHP Development Environment with Docker” for a complete guide to setting it up.
Install Apache (optional)
If you’re still reading, the following sections describe how to install Apache and PHP directly on Windows.
PHP provides a built-in web server which can be launched by navigating to a folder and running the PHP executable with an
-S parameter to set the
localhost port. for example:
cd \myproject php -S localhost:8000
PHP pages can then be viewed in a browser at http://localhost:8000.
This may be adequate for quick tests, but your live server will use Apache or similar web server software. Emulating that environment as closely as possible will prevent development errors.
To install Apache, download the latest Win64 ZIP file from https://www.apachelounge.com/download/ and extract its
Apache24 folder to the root of your
C: drive. You’ll also need to install the Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2015–2019 (
vc_redist_x64); a link is provided on the same page.
cmd command prompt (not PowerShell) and start Apache with:
cd C:\Apache24\bin httpd
You may need to accept a firewall exception before the server starts to run. Open http://localhost in a browser and an “It works!” message should appear. Note:
- If you need to change any settings, Apache’s configuration file is located at
- The web server root folder is located at
C:\Apache24\htdocs. Initially, it contains a single
index.htmlfile with the “It works!” message.
Also not that, if Apache won’t start, it’s likely another application is hogging port 80. (Skype is the prime candidate and the Windows 10 app won’t let you disable it!) If this occurs, edit
C:\Apache24\conf\httpd.conf and change the line
Listen 80 to
Listen 8080 or any other free port. Restart Apache and, from that point onward, you can load web files at http://localhost:8080
The server can be stopped with Ctrl + C. The
ReadMe file in the ZIP also provides instructions for installing Apache as a Windows service.
Install PHP by following the steps below. Note that there are several ways to configure Apache and PHP, but this is possibly the quickest method.
Step 1: Download the PHP files
Get the latest PHP 8 x64 Thread Safe ZIP package from https://www.php.net/downloads.php.
Step 2: Extract the files
Create a new
php folder in the root of your
C:\ drive and extract the contents of the ZIP into it.
PHP can be installed anywhere on your system, but you’ll need to change the paths referenced below if
C:\php isn’t used.
Step 3: Configure
PHP’s configuration file is named
php.ini. This doesn’t exist initially, so copy
C:\php\php.ini. This default configuration provides a development setup which reports all PHP errors and warnings.
There are several lines you may need to change in a text editor (use search to find the current value). In most cases, you’ll need to remove a leading semicolon (
;) to uncomment a setting.
First, enable any required extensions. This will depend on the libraries you want to use, but the following extensions should be suitable for most applications:
extension=curl extension=gd extension=mbstring extension=pdo_mysql
If you want to send emails using PHP’s
mail() function, enter the details of an SMTP server in the
[mail function] section (your ISP’s server should be suitable):
[mail function] ; For Win32 only. ; http://php.net/smtp SMTP = mail.myisp.com ; http://php.net/smtp-port smtp_port = 25 ; For Win32 only. ; http://php.net/sendmail-from sendmail_from = email@example.com
Step 4: Add
C:\php to the
PATH environment variable
To ensure Windows can find the PHP executable, you need to change the
PATH environment variable. Click the Windows Start button and type “environment”, then click Edit the system environment variables. Select the Advanced tab, and click the Environment Variables button.
Scroll down the System variables list and click Path followed by the Edit button. Click New and add
Note that older editions of Windows have a single text box where each path is separated by a semi-colon (
Now OK your way out. You shouldn’t need to reboot, but you may need to close and restart any
cmd terminals you have open.
Step 5: Configure PHP as an Apache module
Ensure Apache isn’t running and open its
C:\Apache24\conf\httpd.conf configuration file in a text editor. Add the following lines to the bottom of the file to set PHP as an Apache module (change the file locations if necessary):
# PHP8 module PHPIniDir "C:/php" LoadModule php_module "C:/php/php8apache2_4.dll" AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
Optionally, change the
DirectoryIndex setting to load
index.php instead of
index.html when it can be found. The initial setting is:
<IfModule dir_module> DirectoryIndex index.html </IfModule>
Change it to:
<IfModule dir_module> DirectoryIndex index.php index.html </IfModule>
httpd.conf and test the updates from a
cmd command line:
cd C:\Apache24\bin httpd -t
Syntax OK should appear … unless you have errors in your configuration.
If all went well, restart Apache with
Step 6: Test a PHP file
Create a new file named
index.php in Apache’s web page root folder at
C:\Apache24\htdocs and add the following PHP code:
<?php phpinfo(); ?>
Open a web browser and enter your server address: http://localhost/. A “PHP version” page will appear showing the various PHP and Apache configuration settings.
You can now create PHP sites and applications in any sub-folder of
C:\Apache24\htdocs. If you need to work on multiple projects, consider defining Apache Virtual Hosts so you can run separate codebases on different
localhost domains or ports.
- How to Install Apache
- How to Install MySQL
- MySQL: the Pros and Cons of MyISAM Tables
- MySQL: the Pros and Cons of InnoDB Tables
- How to Use MySQL Foreign Keys for Quicker Database Development
- Book: PHP & MySQL: Novice to Ninja, 6th Edition
- Book: Jump Start PHP Environment, as well as many more books in our library.
Best of luck!
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.