Whether you’re someone running a corporate server, a hobbyist who wants to make a simple web presence, or a freelancer trying to make a website to market yourself, you shouldn’t overlook the advantages Apache Friends’ XAMPP package has to offer. This application has everything you need to get your site started without a messy installation process – PHP, Apache, MySQL, and FileZilla. It’s not just a bundled package. XAMPP offers you an installer much like the installer for any other normal Windows application all within the reach of a beginner.
Note: XAMPP is available for Linux and Mac as well. In this article, we will focus solely on the Windows version.
What Makes XAMPP So Special
Let’s say you’re installing Apache in Windows. You take the time to set everything up and you start running your website. The problem is that you can’t actually do anything lucrative on the site that doesn’t involve static pages unless you have an SQL server. You then install your favorite SQL server application and realize that you still haven’t installed PHP. The list goes on and on until you’re driven nuts by the complexity of an installation which may take hours.
Here’s where XAMPP comes in. Here you have an application that not only installs all these things you need to run the perfect website, but it also lets you install them as Windows services. Such services allow your computer to run Apache and everything else whenever your computer starts. The applications run silently in the background and don’t take up as many resources as they would if you execute them manually.
How to Install XAMPP
If you really want to give XAMPP a try, go to their download page here and scroll down to the latest version of XAMPP. Click the “Installer” link and download the app, then continue as follows:
1: Browse to the folder to which you downloaded the application and open it up.
2: Select a language in the installer window and click “OK.” You might get a notice yapping about UAC in Windows if you use Vista or Windows 7. Just click “OK” and ignore it. I’ll talk about UAC in the next section.
3: Click “Next” to continue the installation after it shows you the welcome message nobody reads.
4: Specify a destination folder for the application. Your best bet is to leave it in the default location (“C:\xampp”), since this will make access much easier for you. Click “Next” once you’ve finished this.
5: You’re now seeing a window like this:
Here’s where you can install any of the component applications as services. I highly recommend at least installing MySQL and Apache as a service. Click “Install” once you’re finished. The rest of the process is pretty much self explanatory. Once you install the application, browse to the folder where it installed and check the “htdocs” folder. You can place files in that folder so they show up on your site.
If you want to run XAMPP properly, you have to disable User Account Control in your computer. This feature of Windows attempted to enhance the security of your computer by making you approve the actions of programs that you run. Although it sounded like a cute idea, it was proven to be ineffective. If you run a Windows version earlier than Vista, you don’t need to do this:
1: Press “Start + R” on your computer. Your “Start” key is next to either “Alt” key on the keyboard.
2: Type “msconfig” and press “Enter”.
3: Navigate to the “Tools” tab, select “Change UAC Settings” and click “Launch” below the list of tools.
4: Move the slider in the settings window to “Never notify” and click “OK.” You have now disabled UAC.
Once you’re finished with this, you can expect XAMPP to run smoothly and your web server’s ready for action!