The whole business of a web server is to serve websites on the internet, and these are services that the developers of Apache think a server should offer. The Apache software is open-source infrastructure compatible with any operating system, like Windows. But how do you install Apache on Windows? Well, you’re in for a treat!
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to install Apache on Windows and set up an Apache server to launch a web application.
Ready? Read on and start setting up your Apache server!
Table of Contents
This tutorial houses step-by-step instructions, but as long as you have a Windows 10 PC, you’re good to go – This tutorial uses a Windows 10 20H2 computer.
Downloading Apache on Windows
You’ll be launching a web application on your Apache server later in this tutorial. But as a first step, you’ll install Apache on your machine. You can download the Apache HTTP Server from Apache’s official download site.
1. Open your web browser, navigate to the Apache HTTP Server download page, and click on the archive download site link below. Doing so redirects your browser to the Apache HTTP Server Source Code Distributions page (step two).
2. Next, find and click on the binaries/ link to see the contents of the binaries package.
3. Scroll down to the end and click on the win32/ link to see the list of Apache packages you can choose to install on your machine.
4. Finally, look for Apache’s package installer for Windows and click on it to download the Apache package installer. You’ll download Apache 2.0 series for this tutorial, as shown below.
Configuring the Apache Installer to Install Apache on Windows
After downloading the Apache package, you’ll need to configure the installer and set where Apache gets resources to deploy by default.
1. Run the Apache installer and click Next to accept the license agreement until you reach the Server Information page (step two).
2. Next, configure the server information with the following:
- Type localhost for the Network Domain as well Server Name.
- Enter your email address in the Administrator’s Email Address field.
- Leave the default setting for All Users, and click on Next.
You can also specify changes in these settings from the configuration files later.
3. Choose Typical in the Setup Type page since you’re only working learning about the basics of Apache on Windows, and click Next.
4. Now, leave the default installation path, as shown below, and click on Next.
You can change the installation path you prefer by clicking on the Change button and selecting your desired path.
5. Click on Install to start installing Apache HTTP Server on your machine.
6. Click on Finish once the installation completes. Closing the installation wizard starts the Apache server automatically.
7. Look for the Apache icon in your system tray to verify the Apache server is running.
8. Finally, open your preferred browser and navigate to localhost, as shown below, to test your Apache Server installation.
You will see the following page if the installation is successful.
You can also navigate to the loopback address (http://127.0.0.1/) to access the Apache Server.
Allowing External Connections to the Apache Web Server
Although a localhost connection may work for testing, an external system may need to access the web page. Therefore you must open a connection via the Windows Firewall.
1. First, launch the Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security console.
2. Navigate to Inbound Rules and click New Rule.
3. Under Rule Type, select Program.
4. Browse, or enter, the path to the Apache server executable.
5. For the action, choose to Allow the connection.
6. Under applied profiles, allow the default of all profiles.
7. Finally, give the rule a name and click on Finish.
Launching a Web Application
You’re now ready to launch your web application as Apache is running correctly. But where exactly do you store your web application for deployment?
The Apache server root directory (C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\) contains at least three important subdirectories:
- conf – Contains a file that tells Apache how to respond to different kinds of requests.
- htdocs – Contains the documents, images, or data that you want to serve to your clients.
- logs – Contains the log files that record what happened. You can consult …/logs/error_log whenever anything fails to work as expected.
Apache returns all the files placed in the C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\htdocs directory when localhost is launched.
To see how the Apache server works, you’ll create an HTML file as your web application to launch.
1. First, delete all the default files in the C:\Program Files\Apache GroupApache2\htdocs directory.
2. Open your preferred text editor to create an index.html file in the htdocs directory, and populate the file with the code below.
The code below prints a message on a page when launched in a web browser.
<html> <style> <title> My Web Page </title> </style> <body> <h1>Welcome</h1> <p>My first paragraph.</p> </body> </html>
3. Click on the Apache icon at the system tray to restart the Apache server, as shown below.
4. Lastly, navigate to your IP address or localhost on your web browser.
If all goes well, you’ll get the same message as below.
You can place an entire project into the htdocs folder and access it from the browser typing localhost/project_name/.
Updating Server Name and Administrator Email
By default, the Apache files are read-only. But typically, you’ll want to have more control over your Apache server configuration. How? You need to grant Apache files with Write permissions for any modification.
1. For this demo, grant permissions to the conf directory located in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Apache Group\Apache2 directory.
2. Once you’ve enabled the permissions, open the http.conf file located at C:\Program Files (x86)\Apache Group\Apache2\conf.
3. Lookup for the following line, replace
localhost with your preferred name and save the changes.
ServerName gives the hostname of the server to use when creating redirection URLs
4. Finally, look for the following line, and replace
[email protected] with your preferred email address.
ServerAdmin gives Apache an email address for automatic pages generation when some errors occur.
ServerAdmin [email protected]
Changing the Root Directory
As you already know, Apache returns files from the htdocs folder. But you can also use another folder or drive to make backups and launch on Apache. Or if you just want to test your project without messing up anything in the original project directory.
1. Create a dummy folder with your preferred name. But for this demo, the folder is named MyApacheFolder in the E drive.
2. Create a new HTML file named index.html in the MyApacheFolder folder, and populate the file with the code below.
The code below prints the Launching Page From Other Directory message when you launch it on your web browser.
<html> <style> <title>My Web Page </title> </style> <body> <h2>Launching Page From Other Directory</h2> </body> </html>
Now open the http.conf file and change some values as follow:
- Look for the DocumentRoot shown below, and change the value to your dummy folder’s path (E:\MyApacheFolder).
- Now, change the Directory value below with your dummy folder’s path (E:\MyApacheFolder).
- Save the changes you made to the http.conf file. These changes enable the Apache Server to access files from this folder instead of the default directory (htdocs).
4. Lastly, navigate to localhost on your web browser, and you’ll see the following message.
The Apache server will now launch all the sites from the new location (MyApacheFolder).
Throughout this tutorial, you have learned how to download a Windows Apache server and allow running a website without any overhead. Apache server can be an appropriate solution for practically any HTTP protocol situation.
Now you are ready to host a single-page website or an enormous site serving millions of visitors. You can also use Apache as a test-server on personal desktops, writing and trying code in a local environment before publishing it to a broader audience.