How to install Apache (and PHP & MySQL) on Windows: test your web pages at home

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Final notes

You should take into account that the configuration of your test server may differ from your web host configuration. Although most of the pages/scripts will run in the same way, some things can behave different or won't work at all.

For Apache, this problem is mainly an issue of having a different set of active modules than in your web host, and of course, this can be solved activating or deactivating that modules. Besides this, the configuration options of httpd.conf are mostly related to security and technical issues (like supporting subdomains, adding virtual folders...). Usually, the configuration relative to pages (URL rewriting, redirects...) is stored in .htaccess files.

For PHP the differences in the configuration are more relevant since they can modify how some scripts works (like the already mentioned register_globals option). The configuration set by the PHP installer includes the set of options recommended by, which is used by most servers, but the final configuration is in the hands of the server administrator.

For example, an usual configuration change for production environments is suppressing the display of error messages that aren't critical, and thus limiting the information available to possible attackers. Although this change doesn't affect the behaviour of the scripts, you can be greeted with a lot of "E_NOTICE" errors the first time you run your scripts in your test server.

An related to MySQL, the main difference probably would be that in the test server you have full administrator rights while in your web host you won't have some of that rights. This shouldn't affect scripts, since in a properly configured server you should have all the rights needed for quering and managing your databases, and you can create an user with the same limitations of the one you have in your web server. Another difference is that you will have a different user & password in your web host, but you can replicate it in the test server.

Anyway, having a test server in your computer can speed up the development on your pages and scripts, and allows developing and testing server scripts even when you don't have an Internet connection available.

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