Apache is one of the most powerful and flexible web servers
available. Most people assume Apache is only for the UNIX/Linux/BSD environment
– which is a false assumption. Thanks to countless developers, Apache is also
available for the Windows platform in the form of WAMP (Windows Apache, MySQL,
PHP). Of course, if you’ve used Apache on its native platform, you know that,
to the uninitiated, it can be a little daunting to install and set up. For most
UNIX/Linux/BSD admins – those used to working within the command line, it’s a
piece of cake. Windows users? Not so much. Thankfully there are a number of
different WAMP servers out there that make the process of installing and
configuring the Apache server a snap.

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I have found five such WAMP servers, all of them free. Each
offers a varying degree of difficulty as well as feature sets. But all of them
will enable you to get a WAMP server up and running quickly. Once that server
is running, you can begin the process of creating your content.

Five Apps

1. WAMP Server

WAMP Server is
an outstanding choice for those looking for a solid Apache server on a Windows
desktop. This particular take on the WAMP server offers a great user interface
for quick access to: WWW directory, Apache configurations, PHP configurations,
MySQL configurations, quick start/stop for all services. WAMP Server also offers
plenty of Apache, PHP, and MySQL add-ons to further extend your server. With
the inclusion of PhpMyAdmin, you can easily manage your MySQL databases connected
to the Apache server. This means you can install third-party software like WordPress, Drupal, Xoops,
and Joomla.

2. Secure WAMP

Secure WAMP is
another take on the WAMP server that can have you up and running in minutes.
With this server you’ll get the usual tools, plus the Mercury Mail server and
(as loadable add-ins) Python and Perl. One unique feature to Secure WAMP is the
ability to easily choose between development and production settings. Secure
WAMP has a centralized control panel where all services can be controlled. With
the help of a 1-click installer, you can add quickly install applications like
phpBB, WordPress, and more.

3. EasyPHP

EasyPHP is one of the
more powerful WAMP servers available. With an admin module that offers tools
like: Backup, bandwidth Throttle, DNS Admin, permission Manager, PHPInfo,
phpSysInfo, user shadowing, updates, cron Manager, password protected
directories, metatag generator, and more – EasyPHP makes for a highly
configurable web server. Database management is handled by PhpMyAdmin and you
can set up FTP accounts (with FTP Jailing), manage domains, and much more. If
you’re looking for ease of use along with power and flexibility, EasyPHP is the
WAMP you want.

4. UwAMP

UwAMP is unique in
that you can either install the server or run it as a portable application (in
U3 Mode). This means you can carry a powerful development server with you,
everywhere you go. Like the other entries here, UwAMP offers an easy to use
interface as well as: Multi-PHP versions and CPU monitoring (real time Apache
and MySQL monitoring). From the single-window control panel you can get an
at-a-glance status update of the server as well as quick access to all of the
configuration folders.

5. Uniform Server

Uniform Server
is a lightweight version of the Apache server (coming in at under 10MB).
Uniform Server offers the full Apache server as well as a PHP mini server. The
PHP mini server offers a graphical interface for the built-in PHP web server.
Features of Uniform Server include: High security, portable version, quick
access to all server settings, full host of logs, Perl scripting, and more.
This is another great solution for anyone that wants to carry around a full
Apache server on a USB drive. When you unpack Uniform Server, you will find two
different executables: One to start Uniform as a program and one to start
Uniform as a service. To run as a portable version, simply double-click the “run
as program” file and you’re good to go.

Bottom line

There are so many reasons why Apache is one of the most used
web servers on the planet. Not only is it incredibly powerful and flexible, it’s
also a cross-platform server that can be used on nearly any operating system.
Give one of these WAMP servers a try and see if you’re not serving up web
content from your Windows machine with little to no fuss.