XAMPP for Windows is the popular choice of developers when they want to build a fully functional web/MySQL server on their system with a minimum of fuss. In short, it’s free; it’s powerful; and it works right out of the box.
This article assumes you realize that you should not use XAMPP as a production server out of the box. The defaults are set for a non—secure environment, such as a development machine. If you do want to use XAMPP to install a production server, you’ll need to make extensive changes to the configuration of each module to maximize security rather than speed and ease of use.
Now, let’s get XAMPP up and running on your system.
Installing and Running XAMPP
The installation process for XAMPP is quite simple. Just download and run the executable file, and XAMPP will do the rest. It will unpack a dizzying number of files to the folder you choose, (if you accept the default, it will put everything in “c:\xampp”.) Upon completion of the unpacking procedure, the setup script will launch and ask you a few basic questions, such as whether you’re setting up a portable version of XAMPP and whether you’d like Start menu and desktop shortcuts for the XAMPP Control Panel. Once configured, it will ask if you’d like to disable any of several default options, including HTTPS. If you proceed with the defaults, the program will exit, and you’ll be back at your desktop with all the modules of XAMPP installed but nothing running at the moment. The current version of XAMPP comes with Apache, MySQL, Mercury email server, PHP, Pearl, FileZilla FTP server and Tomcat.
Getting Up and Running
Fortunately, getting up and running with XAMPP is as simple as pushing a few buttons and, if necessary, allowing each module access through your firewall.
First, launch the XAMPP Control Panel from your desktop, or from the XAMPP directory. You’ll be presented with a list of modules, a readout of their status, buttons to start, stop and administer them and check boxes to check if you want a particular module to be started as a service. This is as straightforward as it looks. The only problems arise if for some reason a module doesn’t start. Other packages such as EasyPHP will give you some sort of error message or code, but XAMPP sometimes gives you nothing at all. If this happens, look below for troubleshooting.
Once you’ve started the modules you need, you’ll probably want to administer them. You’ll need to consult the XAMPP readme for the entire list of passwords, but the MySQL password is null, with a username of “admin”.
When you’re ready to put together your site, look under the xampp\docs folder. This is the default folder for your website. Any files you create in here can be accessed through your site. As you may know, the defaults are “index.php” and “index.html”, both of which already exist. You can feel free to delete or alter these as you see fit.
That’s all there is to getting up and running with XAMPP. If you encounter a problem at some point, the troubleshooting section may be able to assist you. If not, you’ll find a few support options on the XAMPP site.
Here are a few pointers if you’re having problems getting started with XAMPP. These are just a few common hang-ups. A more exhaustive FAQ is available at the XAMPP site.
- Module Won’t Start: It’s critical that XAMPP be in a top-level folder. This is the most common cause of these problems. If that doesn’t fix things, make sure your firewall is configured to allow that module to access the internet. If Apache won’t start, make sure there are no other web servers running on your machine. If you use Skype, you’ll need to configure it to use an alternate port.
- Can’t Connect to MySQL: Make sure there isn’t another instance of MySQL running on your system. Open Task Manager and look for any processes with “sql” in the name. As long as you’re sure you’re not running anything important, shut them down, restart the SQL module and try again. This can also be caused by port 3304, the default MySQL port, being unavailable. Click the Port Check button in the XAMPP Control Panel to determine whether this is the case. If it is being blocked, this may be due to either your firewall or router settings, if present.
Have you tried XAMPP for Windows? Do share your experience with us, here in the comments section.