How to Start a PHP Server: Everything You Need to Know

Everything You Need to Setup a PHP Server

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PHP is one of the most popular scripting languages today, with many PHP integrations across platforms, including WordPress.

To run PHP scripts and web applications, developers first need to start a PHP server. Of course, there are many methods for starting a PHP server. However, it’s crucial to choose the best one for your needs.

While you can set up your own server, it often makes sense to choose a reliable PHP hosting provider. The provider will host your PHP applications on their pre-configured servers, and will manage server details, PHP installation, and other features.

Recommended Hosting Providers for a PHP Server

ProviderUser RatingBest ForExpert & User Reviews 
 4.8cPanel FastComet ReviewVisit FastComet
4.6SecurityHostinger ReviewVisit Hostinger
4.0FlexibilityIONOS ReviewVisit IONOS

Today, we’ll cover everything you need to know to start a PHP server, discuss some of the most common PHP errors, and list the best practices for a PHP server. But first, let’s see what a PHP server is.

  • PHP servers are designed to run PHP applications, handle PHP requests, and execute PHP scripts
  • The PHP server setup includes installing PHP and installing, configuring, starting, and testing a web server
  • You can start a PHP server using the command line interface (CLI) and the Graphical User Interface (GUI)
  • The most common errors needing troubleshooting while starting a PHP server include port already in use, PHP file not found, server not responding, server not starting, access denied, invalid PHP syntax, and missing PHP extensions
  • All PHP server users should keep their server up to date, secure it, monitor it, optimize its performance, and use a reliable hosting provider

What Is a PHP Server?

Final: How to Start a PHP Server Everything You Need to Know

A PHP server is a web server that provides a platform for running PHP applications. It’s designed to handle PHP requests and execute PHP scripts. In addition, it is responsible for receiving HTTP requests from clients, interpreting them, and returning responses.

Some PHP servers have additional functionalities and include:

  • Clustering services
  • Debuggers
  • Automated application monitoring tools
  • Web server configuration

Why Do You Need a PHP Server?

Final: How to Start a PHP Server Everything You Need to Know

You will need a PHP server if you want to run PHP scripts and develop PHP applications. This is because PHP is a server-side scripting language executed on the server side, not the client side.

  • Additionally, PHP servers with built-in tools can significantly help developers because they can reduce the need for additional third-party products, decreasing costs
  • PHP servers can boost efficiency by enabling smooth workflows running from one browser window
If you want to make your PHP application accessible to users around the world, hosting it on a local machine won’t be sufficient. You’ll need a PHP Hosting provider for global access.

Setting Up a PHP Server

Now that we’ve covered the basics of PHP servers and their use, we can move on to the setup process. Here’s an outline of how to set up a PHP server:

1. Install PHP

The first step is to install PHP on your system. You can download PHP from the official website or install it via a package manager on Linux.

  • After installing it, you need to create a new PHP folder in the root of your C: I am running a few minutes late; my previous meeting is running over. drive
  • Then, extract the contents of the PHP zip into your C: I am running a few minutes late; my previous meeting is running over. drive
  • Of course, you can install PHP anywhere on your system, not just on your C: I am running a few minutes late; my previous meeting is running over. drive

2. Install a Web Server

After installing PHP, you need to install a web server. This web server will host your PHP files. Some of the most popular options include Apache, Nginx, and Microsoft IIS.

3. Configure the Web Server

Once you have installed the web server, you must configure it to work with PHP. This usually involves adding some configuration files to your web server’s directory.

4. Start the PHP Server

After installing and configuring PHP and your web server, you can start the PHP server by running a command in the terminal.

  • To start the PHP server, use the command php -S localhost:8000 in the terminal
  • You can visit the site by using localhost:8000 as the URL across all browsers

5. Test the Server

You should test the PHP server by creating a simple PHP file and checking that you can access it via the web server.

  • Create a test script using the phpinfo() function and save the file as phptest.php in the web server document root
  • Then, to ensure that the web server is running, open a browser and type http://server-ip/phptest.php
  • If the web server is running, your screen will show details about which PHP version you use and all the modules you have installed

6. Additional Configurations

You can further configure your PHP server to suit your needs. For example, you can Change the PHP configuration settings, configure SSL, and set up virtual hosts.

Starting a PHP Server

Now, it’s time to start your PHP server. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Install PHP on Your Computer

If you haven’t already, download and install PHP on your computer. You can download PHP from the official website.

2. Create a PHP File

Create a new file with the .php extension. Most PHP files are saved within a folder in a web server’s public directory or a web root directory.

  • For example, you can create a new PHP file and name it index.php. This will be the file that you will run on the server
  • If you save the file as index.php in your web root directory, you can access it by typing either or

3. Open a Command Prompt

How you open a command prompt or terminal on your computer depends on your operating system.

  • For Windows, click on the Start option and type in Command Prompt. You can also open a command prompt by pressing Ctrl+r on your keyboard. Then, type cmd and press OK.
  • For MacOS, open the Launchpad and type in the terminal.
  • For Linux, it depends on which interface you use, like GNOME, KDE, and Xfce. This is because you access the terminal in different ways for each interface.

4. Navigate to the Directory With the PHP File

You can use the cd command to navigate to the directory where your PHP file is saved. In addition, it allows you to move between directories.

  • To find the exact file you’re looking for, type in cd your-directory

5. Start the PHP Server

To start the PHP server on your computer, type in the php -S localhost:8000 command in the command prompt.

  • It treats the current directory as the document root directory. If the request does not specify a file, index.php or index.html in the given directory will be displayed.
  • To specify a document root directory, use the php -S localhost:8000 –t command and type in the directory you wish after the –t.

6. Test the Server

To test the server, open any browser you wish, type in http://localhost:8000, and press Enter. If you see the contents of your PHP file displayed in the browser, it means your server is running correctly.

7. Stop the Server

To stop the PHP server, you only need to press Ctrl+C in the command prompt. This will prevent the PHP server from running.

Troubleshooting Common Errors While Starting a PHP Server

From PHP errors in WordPress to every other platform, there are many errors than can occur at any stage of development. Here are some common PHP errors that you may encounter while starting a PHP server and some possible solutions:

1. Port Already in Use

This error occurs when another program is already using the port you are trying to use. You can try using a different port number to fix this issue.

  • To specify a port number, you can use the –p option. For instance, you can change the php -S localhost:8000 to php -S localhost:8080

2. PHP File Not Found

The PHP file not found error usually occurs due to a permissions error or because some configuration file details are incorrect.

  • To fix this issue, make sure that the file exists in the correct directory
  • Also, ensure that you are specifying the correct path in your URL

3. Server Not Responding

If your PHP server is not responding or is taking too long to load, check the server logs for any errors.

  • Additionally, it would be best if you tried restarting the server
  • If this doesn’t help, check your Internet connection and restart your router

4. Server Not Starting

If your PHP server is not starting at all, then you should:

  • Check which PHP version you have installed to ensure that it is the correct one
  • Ensure that you are running the server command from the correct directory

5. Access Denied

If you get an access denied error while trying to access a file through the server, ensure the file has the correct permissions set.

  • You can change the file permissions by using the chmod command

6. Invalid PHP Syntax

If you get an error message indicating a syntax error in your PHP code, you should check your code for any issues or typos.

  • You can also use a PHP syntax checker or IDE to help you find and fix errors

7. PHP Extensions Missing

You may get an error message indicating that an extension is missing if you use PHP extensions in your code that are not installed on your server.

  • You can install the missing extension via your server’s package manager to fix this issue. You can also manually download and install the missing extension

Best Practices for Using a PHP Server

Final: How to Start a PHP Server Everything You Need to KnowWhen using a PHP server, there are many things you can do to improve it. Here are some of the best practices for using a PHP server:

1. Keep Your Server up to Date

New PHP versions are released quite often, and each one has new security fixes and improvements. So, you need to ensure that you always have the latest PHP version installed to benefit from the most recent updates.

  • This also applies to all libraries, extensions, or third-party frameworks you use
  • Keeping your PHP version and code up to date reduces the chances of being hacked because you have fewer vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit

2. Secure Your Server

You should configure your web server properly to protect your website from attacks and prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.

  • To ensure your web server’s safety, you should secure it with firewalls, SSL certificates, and strong passwords
  • Additionally, you should ensure that all redundant services are disabled and file permissions are correctly set

3. Monitor Your Server

You should regularly check your server logs for errors and security issues and monitor your performance metrics.

  • You should perform regular security audits to identify vulnerabilities and to ensure that your code is up to date and follows the best PHP security practices
  • This will help you identify and fix issues before they become significant problems and can help minimize the potential damage to your website

4. Optimize Server Performance

To improve the performance of your PHP server, you should use tools like caching, compression, and content delivery networks or CDNs. This will significantly help you reduce loading times and improve the user experience.

5. Use a Reliable Hosting Provider

It would be best if you chose a hosting provider that specializes in PHP hosting and has a good reputation for reliability and performance. This will ensure that your server is always up and running when you need it.

  • A good PHP hosting provider should have an expert support system specializing in PHP code
  • Additionally, the hosting provider should have sufficient bandwidth, storage, and overall excellent server resources
  • The provider should offer a hosting platform that supports multiple PHP versions

To make your search easier, check out our picks for the best Linux VPS hosting providers and choose the one that’s best for you.

FastComet was established back in 2013. Due to its variety of hosting options, flexible price points, and reliable customer service, it’s one of the most popular providers available in the US and around the world. Alongside its free site migrations, built-in firewall, and free daily/weekly backups, FastComet guarantees 99.9% uptime.
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Hostinger is a renowned web hosting provider that comes with fully managed shared hosting plans that are excellent for beginners. With Hostinger, all the technical aspects of your website and server, like updates, maintenance, and monitoring, will be taken care of by the provider’s team of experts, leaving you with more time to focus on your brand.
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IONOS has hosting solutions for any type of site. Their entry level options are extremely affordable, yet still quite reliable. For larger or busier sites, you can move up to either their VPS or dedicated servers, which are more expensive but much more powerful as well. They are based in Germany, but also have servers in North America and Oceania, making them a great choice for customers around the globe.


Around 77.5% of all websites use PHP for their server side. So, there is no doubt surrounding the popularity of PHP. Moreover, the most used PHP version is Version 7, with over 67% of websites using it, and Version 5 comes in second place with 22.1%.

PHP is a server-side scripting language that developers use to run PHP applications, handle PHP requests, and execute PHP scripts.

  • PHP servers are responsible for receiving, interpreting, and responding to HTTP requests from clients
  • A PHP server can help developers reduce the need for third-party products, which decreases costs
  • Additionally, PHP servers can boost efficiency and enable a smooth workflow
  • After setting up your PHP server and learning how to troubleshoot the most common PHP errors, you’ll need to find an appropriate PHP hosting provider, secure your server, and configure it to meet all your needs

Next Steps: What Now?

Further Reading – Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a PHP 5.4 Web Server?

The launch of PHP 5.4 enabled developers to use an on-demand web server to assist them with application development.

How do I start a Web Server?

The method you use to start a web server depends on your operating system. For instance, Windows users can utilize the command “php -S localhost:80 -t” to start the server. This will initiate the server on port 80 and serve files from the specified directory.

How to run a Web Server?

You can use different commands to run a PHP web server, depending on your operating system. For example, if you use Windows, you can utilize the command “php -S localhost:80 -t” to start the server. This command will start the server on port 80 and serve files from the specified directory.

How do I use PHP?

The way you use PHP depends on the operating system you have. For instance, you can use the command line interface (CLI) and navigate to your project folder using the terminal window. Further, you can use the command “php –S” to start the server.

What can I use PHP for?

PHP is mainly used for websites, web applications, command-line scripting, and desktop (GUI) applications. Additionally, you can use PHP for processing and saving user input from form data, setting up website cookies, and restricting certain pages of your website.

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