Best 9 Local Web Server Environments to Run PHP Scripts
If you want to launch a new website or check how a certain CMS or PHP script works, one free option that doesn’t require you to buy a server is using local web server environments. You can run Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python, or Perl on local web server environments regardless of the operating system you are using.
Local web server environments allow you to emulate Linux web server environments on Windows, MacOS, or any other operating system you have and run any PHP script with MySQL on them.
A local web server environment lets you install and test a PHP script or CMS on your local computer, install the required plugins and themes on it, customize it as much as you want, and when it is ready to use, upload it to a real web server and launch your online website.
There are a few free and paid local web server environments, and all of them provide you with the basic requirements you would need to run PHP scripts locally. Some of them let you run multiple different PHP scripts on your local computer and work individually on each of them.
In this article, we are going to introduce you to detailed information about the most famous and useful local web server environments that can be used to convert your local computer into a web server to run any Python, Perl, or PHP scripts on it.
List of the Best Local Web Server Environments to Run PHP Scripts
WampServer is a free and powerful local web server environment for running PHP scripts that is simpler to use than some similar applications.
WampServer lets you launch your local web server easily without needing to have knowledge of PHP. Apache, MySQL, and PHP are bundled into this product, and you can run any script that needs these requirements on your PC.
After the installation, you can easily start the WampServer and whenever you are done with the scripts, you can easily turn it off with a mouse click.
As mentioned, most PHP scripts need a MySQL database to run, and WampServer supports that too. Managing MySQL databases can be done using phpMyAdmin, which lets you have control over every record in the database and each table within it.
WampServer allows you to change the PHP version to test if your script works perfectly fine with one specific PHP version and is compatible with that.
Sometimes you may need to restart the PHP, MySQL, or other running services because you have faced a technical issue or you need to do so for any other reason. Restarting WampServer is as easy as starting and stopping it.
WampServer is a rather lightweight local web server environment software that can be used on any new or old PC without any problems. You can use it to run any content management system like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and all other PHP scripts locally on your PC.
EasyPHP is another powerful local web server environment that has all the things you need to run a local server readily available. It is more popular among PHP developers because it has modules that let them code and run PHP programs easily.
EasyPHP can be used as portable and you can install all the modules and requirements to start scripting and PHP programming anywhere on any computer using this software.
The interface of EasyPHP is user-friendly and simple, which makes it a suitable choice for beginner and advanced users who don’t like complicated interfaces. It lets them concentrate more on their main job, which is programming and customizing the scripts.
All popular content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc., are runnable in the environment of EasyPHP.
You can use EasyPHP to convert your own local computer into a web server and run all the scripts you want on it, then upload them to the remote server later if you would like.
EasyPHP is so easy to learn and any user can benefit from it without needing to look for tutorials. It allows you to install other applications, which might be third-party apps too, to expand the coding features of it.
EasyPHP is a useful local web server environment for developing PHP code and running and debugging it without leaving the application.
EasyPHP is a rather small application for coding PHP programs, running scripts, and debugging them on your local computer. The program notifies you about the errors you might have made in your PHP applications.
Laragon is a server emulator that provides you with a good local web server environment for web-based programming in Windows. It is a suitable environment for you to build and work on PHP projects on localhost.
Everything a web developer needs to code and run scripts like Apache, MySQL, PHP, Ngnix, JS, Git, and Composer is provided in Laragon, and the features can be expanded by adding tools to it.
Laragon can be installed on a PC, or as an alternative, you can use it as portable software. It is a fast and powerful server emulator for PHP, JS, Python, Java and more.
The interface of Laragon is user-friendly and simple, and you can customize it based on your needs. This software is a good choice for developing and testing web applications on your local PC.
You can transfer the folder of Laragon and the projects you have made within it to other drives or computers without any worries, or you can even use the cloud space synchronization capabilities.
To do so, you just need to copy the information from the www folder (which is the main folder of Largon and contains the project files), the data folder (which contains the database you made for your projects, like MySQL), and the folder containing the user’s data.
Largon can be configured easily and automatically, and you can add any additional feature to it with a few clicks. Some of the additional tools you can add are Ruby, Apache, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, etc.
The WordPress CMS can be easily installed in Largon with minimum effort. After the installation, you can add themes and plugins from the admin panel of your locally hosted WordPress website, exactly like a real-live WordPress-based website.
The DesktopServer is one of the oldest local web server environments for running WordPress CMS with a GUI to make the installation process of WordPress easy for all users, regardless of their knowledge.
The DesktopServer is mainly developed for installing and running WordPress, and the installation process of WordPress has been made easy by the wizard that lets you install WordPress step-by-step.
DesktopServer has both free and premium versions, and it’s clear that some of the features in the free version are limited. For example:
- The free version does not allow you to import backups created with WordPress backup plugins, whereas the premium version does.
- The premium version of DesktopServer allows you to export the WordPress website you have installed and customized locally and import it, but this feature is disabled in the free version.
- The premium version allows directly uploading the locally installed WordPress onto another server.
- Some automated configuration can be applied to the premium version of DesktopServer to make the installation and customizing of WordPress easier.
- Some plugins are ready-to-use in the premium version while they cannot be used in the free version, such as: Adobe Dreamweaver plugin, Coda2 Preview plugin, Visual Studio Code plugin, Airplane Mode plugin, ByPass LoginDS-CLI plugin, and Database Collation Fix plugin.
All the mentioned features that are possible only in the premium version may not seem important to most average and beginner users. Another big limitation of the free version of DesktopServer is the number of installations of WordPress. 3.
It means that you can only have 3 installations of WordPress at the same time running on your local PC simultaneously using the free version of DesktopServer.
AMPPS is one of the easiest to use local web server environments for both Windows and MacOS with many features. You may have noticed that some of the control panels of web servers allow you to install several PHP scripts easily with a few clicks.
One of the most famous installers is Softaculous, which has an auto installer for more than 350 scripts, including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and others, and is available for most modern control panels, such as cPanel, Plesk, DirectAdmin, InterWorx, H-Sphere.
AMPSS is a great application which has all the PHP, MySQL, and other requirements you would need for running scripts on your local PC, in addition to having support for Softaculous.
Using this local web server environment, you can install so many content management systems and scripts with the minimum amount of effort locally and customize them according to your needs.
Softaculous is the abbreviated term for Apache, MySQL (MongoDB), PHP (Perl, Python), and Softaculous, and it easily allows you to switch between different PHP versions.
AMPSS can be used as free or paid software, and there are some limitations in the free version that are tolerable for average users who want to see how a script and CMS work locally.
As WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world today, AMPSS has some special features for this content management system. For example, AMPSS includes a WordPress management tool that makes it simple to manage multiple WordPress installations.
AMPSS allows developers to install multiple versions of PHP locally and test the compatibility of their written codes with different versions of PHP. The installation process of different PHP versions is straightforward with a few clicks!
The WordPress manage tool allows you to manage the themes and plugins for your locally installed WordPress easily. You can even search through the WordPress repository and install any of the plugins or themes you would like with a click.
The upgrading process of installed WordPress can be done within the WordPress manage tool. You can import your WordPress from a web server directly using this tool too.
In both free and paid versions, you can install as many scripts and content management systems on your local computer as you like. For instance, the WordPress manage tool is only available to premium users.
You can make a complete backup of your locally installed and customized WordPress and export it to your own local computer or use one of the following remote online services: Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, AWS S3, etc.
XAMPP is another well-known local web server environment that is available as an open-sourced project and can be installed on both Windows and MacOS systems.
XAMPP has all the required bundles to work as a local web server environment. Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Perl are all included in the package. This cross-platform application is a good choice for beginner and advanced users who want to run scripts locally.
You can use XAMPP alongside FTP and mail server access, which is a good choice for testing the scripts locally and uploading them to the server if needed.
The control panel of XAMPP gives you many options to customize the application according to your needs. There are a lot of configurations you have control over in the XAMPP’s admin panel, which is preferred by advanced users who need more control options.
Another good feature of XAMPP is keeping a good detailed track of the errors and usage information, which makes the tracking easier for the administrator.
Although XAMPP is a good local web server environment, there are some arguments on the net about the disadvantages of using XAMPP on production servers.
If you keep sensitive information on the XAMPP database and use it on a production server, you run the risk of hackers accessing the database and stealing your data.
The default FTP program used in XAMPP is ProFTPD, and the default password for this application is “lampp.” If you don’t change it, your files can be accessed by unauthorized users. A similar issue is with the email server, which is preferred to be secured first before using XAMPP on production sites.
MAMP is a cross-platform free local web server environment program that can turn your Windows or MacOS operating system into a suitable environment for running scripts like WordPress on your local computer.
MAMP allows you to run any script with any requirements like Apache, Nginx, MySQL, PHP, Python, Perl, or Ruby on your PC. If you would like to run these scripts on your PC, MAMP has solutions for you.
The MAMP local web server environment has both free and pro editions, and the name MAMP stands for Mac OS X, Apache, MySQL (MariaDB), and PHP (Perl, Python).
These are the required tools for running most scripts. Most of the time, PHP is accompanied by MySQL or some other database. Most scripts usually need this bundle to run, so local web server environments provide all these tools in a ready-to-use package.
One great advantage of using local web server environments is being able to do all the hard work that needs command lines in an easy-to-use graphical interface, which is preferred for most Windows and Mac OS users who are not familiar with Linux commands typically.
One of the main reasons that local server environments are popular is their user-friendly interface, which makes you independent from running commands. With MAMP you can easily launch and start your local server with a few clicks.
If you are planning to launch a WordPress website and you need to test it before going live, MAMP is a good choice for you. It lets you install one WordPress locally on your PC and customize it.
WordPress installation requires a PHP and MySQL database, and fortunately, MAMP has these two, so you can install WordPress on it easily with a few mouse clicks.
The control panel of MAMP makes it easy for you to control your WordPress easily without any command lines. You can use all the features included in MAMP’s control panel with mouse clicks, but if you need further tasks, it would be difficult to do them with MAMP.
MAMP has so many advantages as a local web server environment, but it has its own flaws too. For example, it’s not that easy to run multiple projects on MAMP and it would be a little complicated, but it is a good choice for running one project.
If you want to run multiple projects on MAMP, it doesn’t allow you to set different configurations for them, but you are allowed to configure MAMP for all of them if those properties will be used for them all.
You cannot change the system resources for each of your projects, and the hardware resources will be used equally for running all the projects. If you need to specify more or less hardware resources for some projects, that’s not possible in MAMP.
PHP scripts, as you are aware, cannot be run directly on your computer. WordPress content management systems, for example, cannot be installed directly on Windows unless you use one of the local web server environments, such as Uniform Server.
The Uniform Server is a WAMP package that can run a web server on Windows operating systems. It is a lightweight program and can be used as a local program or on servers.
Uniform Server can be used by developers to test their written codes and scripts that they have
The Uniform Server can be used by developers to test their written codes and scripts that they have programmed in PHP, Perl, MySQL, and Apache.
The Uniform Server allows you to switch between different versions of PHP easily within the program’s control panel and, database-wise, you can select one of the MySQL or MariaDB databases.
The Uniform Server can be used as a portable application to manage, test, and run your desired PHP scripts on any Windows operating system you have access to.
9. Zend Server
Zend Server is another local web server environment that is not free and can be used for enterprise applications too. It supports Apache, PHP, and MySQL, in addition to having support for IIS and Nginx.
Zend Server benefits from more than 70 different plugins that enable you to install and run different software and applications on your local PC.
The Zend Server application automatically updates the PHP to the latest version effortlessly. It lets you optimize the PHP codes and debug them.
Zend Server is a secure and trusted local web server environment with many built-in tools to expand its functionality. You can change the PHP version easily for testing your written programs.
Zend Server is available for both Windows and Linux operating systems and, as mentioned, is not free, so it’s not the best option for home users because you will get the same or more features for free from its competitors.