Installation on Windows systems
PHP Manual

Manual Installation Steps

This install guide will help you manually install and configure PHP with a web server on Microsoft Windows. To get started you'll need to download the zip binary distribution from the downloads page at »

Although there are many all-in-one installation kits, and we also distribute a PHP installer for Microsoft Windows, we recommend you take the time to setup PHP yourself as this will provide you with a better understanding of the system, and enables you to install PHP extensions easily when needed.

Note: Upgrading from a previous PHP version Previous editions of the manual suggest moving various ini and DLL files into your SYSTEM (i.e. C:\WINDOWS) folder and while this simplifies the installation procedure it makes upgrading difficult. We advise you remove all of these files (like php.ini and PHP related DLLs from the Windows SYSTEM folder) before moving on with a new PHP installation. Be sure to backup these files as you might break the entire system. The old php.ini might be useful in setting up the new PHP as well. And as you'll soon learn, the preferred method for installing PHP is to keep all PHP related files in one directory and have this directory available to your systems PATH.

Note: MDAC requirements If you use Microsoft Windows 98/NT4 download the latest version of the Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) for your platform. MDAC is available at » This requirement exists because ODBC is built into the distributed Windows binaries.

The following steps should be completed on all installations before any server specific instructions are performed:

Extract the distribution file into a directory of your choice. If you are installing PHP 4, extract to C:\, as the zip file expands to a foldername like php-4.3.7-Win32. If you are installing PHP 5, extract to C:\php as the zip file doesn't expand as in PHP 4. You may choose a different location but do not have spaces in the path (like C:\Program Files\PHP) as some web servers will crash if you do.

The directory structure extracted from the zip is different for PHP versions 4 and 5 and look like as follows:

Example#1 PHP 4 package structure

c:\php | +--cli | | | |-php.exe -- CLI executable - ONLY for command line scripting | +--dlls -- support DLLs required by some extensions | | | |-expat.dll | | | |-fdftk.dll | | | |-... | +--extensions -- extension DLLs for PHP | | | |-php_bz2.dll | | | |-php_cpdf.dll | | | |-.. | +--mibs -- support files for SNMP | +--openssl -- support files for Openssl | +--pdf-related -- support files for PDF | +--sapi -- SAPI (server module support) DLLs | | | |-php4apache.dll | | | |-php4apache2.dll | | | |-.. | +--PEAR -- initial copy of PEAR | | |-go-pear.bat -- PEAR setup script | |-.. | |-php.exe -- CGI executable | |-.. | |-php.ini-dist -- default php.ini settings | |-php.ini-recommended -- recommended php.ini settings | |-php4ts.dll -- core PHP DLL | |-...


Example#2 PHP 5 package structure

c:\php | +--dev | | | |-php5ts.lib | +--ext -- extension DLLs for PHP | | | |-php_bz2.dll | | | |-php_cpdf.dll | | | |-.. | +--extras | | | +--mibs -- support files for SNMP | | | +--openssl -- support files for Openssl | | | +--pdf-related -- support files for PDF | | | |-mime.magic | +--pear -- initial copy of PEAR | | |-go-pear.bat -- PEAR setup script | |-fdftk.dll | |-.. | |-php-cgi.exe -- CGI executable | |-php-win.exe -- executes scripts without an opened command prompt | |-php.exe -- CLI executable - ONLY for command line scripting | |-.. | |-php.ini-dist -- default php.ini settings | |-php.ini-recommended -- recommended php.ini settings | |-php5activescript.dll | |-php5apache.dll | |-php5apache2.dll | |-.. | |-php5ts.dll -- core PHP DLL | |-...

Notice the differences and similarities. Both PHP 4 and PHP 5 have a CGI executable, a CLI executable, and server modules, but they are located in different folders and/or have different names. While PHP 4 packages have the server modules in the sapi folder, PHP 5 distributions have no such directory and instead they're in the PHP folder root. The supporting DLLs for the PHP 5 extensions are also not in a seperate directory.

Note: In PHP 4, you should move all files located in the dll and sapi folders to the main folder (e.g. C:\php).

Here is a list of server modules shipped with PHP 4 and PHP 5:

Server modules provide significantly better performance and additional functionality compared to the CGI binary. The CLI version is designed to let you use PHP for command line scripting. More information about CLI is available in the chapter about using PHP from the command line.


The SAPI modules have been significantly improved as of the 4.1 release, however, in older systems you may encounter server errors or other server modules failing, such as ASP.

The CGI and CLI binaries, and the web server modules all require the php4ts.dll (php5ts.dll) file to be available to them. You have to make sure that this file can be found by your PHP installation. The search order for this DLL is as follows:

To make php4ts.dll / php5ts.dll available you have three options: copy the file to the Windows system directory, copy the file to the web server's directory, or add your PHP directory, C:\php to the PATH. For better maintenance, we advise you to follow the last option, add C:\php to the PATH, because it will be simpler to upgrade PHP in the future. Read more about how to add your PHP directory to PATH in the corresponding FAQ entry (and then don't forget to restart the computer - logoff isn't enough).

The next step is to set up a valid configuration file for PHP, php.ini. There are two ini files distributed in the zip file, php.ini-dist and php.ini-recommended. We advise you to use php.ini-recommended, because we optimized the default settings in this file for performance, and security. Read this well documented file carefully because it has changes from php.ini-dist that will drastically affect your setup. Some examples are display_errors being off and magic_quotes_gpc being off. In addition to reading these, study the ini settings and set every element manually yourself. If you would like to achieve the best security, then this is the way for you, although PHP works fine with these default ini files. Copy your chosen ini-file to a directory that PHP is able to find and rename it to php.ini. PHP searches for php.ini in the locations described in Runtime Configuration section.

If you are running Apache 2, the simpler option is to use the PHPIniDir directive (read the installation on Apache 2 page), otherwise your best option is to set the PHPRC environment variable. This process is explained in the following FAQ entry.

Note: If you're using NTFS on Windows NT, 2000, XP or 2003, make sure that the user running the web server has read permissions to your php.ini (e.g. make it readable by Everyone).

The following steps are optional:

PHP is now setup on your system. The next step is to choose a web server, and enable it to run PHP. Choose a web server from the table of contents.

Installation on Windows systems
PHP Manual