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WampServer delivers a smart, Windows-friendly platform for Apache, MySQL and PHP-based apps

By Susan Perschke, Network World
April 23, 2012 12:03 AM ET

Network World - While many popular website applications (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.) are open source and therefore freely available, running these PHP-based apps on a Windows IIS web server requires a bit of retrofitting.

How to install a WampServer

Although Microsoft has streamlined the process of installing and configuring the PHP scripting language on IIS 7.0, many web administrators consider the fix, which involves enabling FastCGI extensions, too risky for production environments. Others simply wish to set up an independent test environment for evaluating open source apps.

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Moreover, PHP extensions are not the only hurdle for Windows webmasters. A large number of PHP-based open source apps rely on backend databases (MySQL, Maria DB, PostgreSQL, etc.) that also need special handling to run on Windows.

Enter WampServer, an open source product that installs a PHP-apps-ready platform consisting of Apache web server, MySQL database, PHP, plus several helpful GUI-based utilities. WampServer can be installed on virtually any version of Windows, either desktop or server. With an active user community, industrial-grade training programs and a large installed base, WampServer is one of the world's most popular Apache-MySQL-PHP distributions.

We evaluated WampServer, a product of the French company Alter Way, for its Windows-friendly features and its 'out-of-the-box' readiness for hosting PHP apps. We tested WampServer with Drupal and WordPress. Both products were up and running on our 32- and 64-bit test servers less than five minutes after WampServer was installed.

Take it slow

A Windows web admin's first instinct may be to install WampServer on a trusty IIS web server. For a number of reasons, this is not advisable, especially for a first-time installation. You may encounter port conflicts or other configuration problems that could thwart your efforts to get WampServer up and running smoothly.

For the 32-bit installation, we installed WampServer on a machine running a fresh install of Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2 (patched), with no server roles and no web services running. If you don't have a dedicated box for the install, you can test on a virtual machine. The latest version of WampServer is compatible with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. Previously released versions can operate on older Windows platforms going all the way back to Windows NT.

The WampServer installation on both our 32- and 64-bit Windows servers was surprisingly straightforward with just a few prompts from the Windows executable file we downloaded from (there are separate files for 32 and 64-bit architectures).

First, to make it easier to clearly identify and work with the newly installed WampServer files, we selected an empty, newly-formatted NTFS extended partition and an empty 'wamp' folder as the destination for the install.

Next the WampServer installer prompted for a choice of a website browser. It defaulted to Internet Explorer, and we accepted the default, although we also later installed and tested WampServer with Google's Chrome browser.

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