WampServer is a Windows web application environment. It installs Apache, MySQL, and PHP, plus helpful utilities such as phpMyAdmin.
Web applications are best run on a Linux server, but there are edge cases where a nontechnical user might rather run something on his local Windows box. WampServer fills this need well: it’s all you need in a single easy to install package. WampServer is open source and available at no cost. It requires Microsoft’s Visual C++ Redistributable Package (proprietary; no cost) as a prerequisite before installing.
DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL
Download and install first Visual C++ and then WampServer. WampServer’s installer is simple and usually the default responses to all questions are appropriate.
If you use Windows’ default firewall, it will ask for permission to allow outside access to Apache during WampServer’s installation. If this is for local use only, be safe and instruct the firewall to block everything.
TEST AND CONFIGURE
Once installed, point your favorite browser to http://localhost/; you should see the WampServer homepage. The file for the homepage is index.php in the Apache docroot. It contains useful information, so for development use I rename it to wampserver.php. It would be a security risk for production use and so should be deleted.
The installer starts the Apache and MySQL services to facilitate testing, but by default they do not start automatically on boot. If you wish them to, log in to a Windows administrative account and go to Control Panel – System and Security – Administrative Tools – Services. Open the properties window of the wampapache service. In the General tab, set the startup type to automatic and press “Accept”. Do the same for the wampmysqld service. Reboot the computer and confirm that both services start on boot.
The entry “WampServer – Start WampServer” is added to your applications menu. It (1) starts the Apache and MySQL services if they aren’t already running, and (2) launches a system tray icon. Clicking the icon provides access to a number of utilities, such as opening configuration files for editing.
The Apache docroot is C:wampwww, and the service’s name is wampapache.
phpMyAdmin is installed as part of WampServer and is available from the WampServer homepage. Recall that MySQL’s default credentials of user root and a null password. For anything other than brief testing you’ll want to change root’s password and add other users.
The service’s name is wampmysqld.
A phpinfo page is installed as part of WampServer and is available from the WampServer homepage.
There is no way to update the individual components. For example, as of this writing the version of PHP included with the latest stable WampServer has a security vulnerability. Although there is a newer version of PHP that fixes the issue, WampServer users can’t install it.
TODO: Find an alternative to WampServer that addresses this shortcoming. For the typical use case I’ve described above this is not a serious concern, but why take gratuitous risks?
These notes refer to WampServer 2.4 64 bits on Windows 7 SP1 64 bits, and were last updated 16 August 2013.