Installation on Windows systems

This section applies to Windows 95/98/Me and Windows NT/2000/XP. Do not expect PHP to work on 16 bit platforms such as Windows 3.1. Sometimes we refer to the supported Windows platforms as Win32.

There are two main ways to install PHP for Windows: either manually or by using the InstallShield installer.

If you have Microsoft Visual Studio, you can also build PHP from the original source code.

Once you have PHP installed on your Windows system, you may also want to load various extensions for added functionality.

Windows InstallShield

The Windows PHP installer available from the downloads page at, this installs the CGI version of PHP and, for IIS, PWS, and Xitami, configures the web server as well. Also note, that while the InstallShield installer is an easy way to make PHP work, it is restricted in many aspects, as automatic setup of extensions for example is not supported.

Install your selected HTTP server on your system and make sure that it works.

Run the executable installer and follow the instructions provided by the installation wizard. Two types of installation are supported - standard, which provides sensible defaults for all the settings it can, and advanced, which asks questions as it goes along.

The installation wizard gathers enough information to set up the php.ini file and configure the web server to use PHP. For IIS and also PWS on NT Workstation, a list of all the nodes on the server with script map settings is displayed, and you can choose those nodes to which you wish to add the PHP script mappings.

Once the installation has completed the installer will inform you if you need to restart your system, restart the server, or just start using PHP.


Be aware, that this setup of PHP is not secure. If you would like to have a secure PHP setup, you'd better go on the manual way, and set every option carefully. This automatically working setup gives you an instantly working PHP installation, but it is not meant to be used on online servers.

Manual Installation Steps

This install guide will help you manually install and configure PHP on your Windows webserver. You need to download the zip binary distribution from the downloads page at The original version of this guide was compiled by Bob Silva, and can be found at

This guide provides manual installation support for:

PHP 4 for Windows comes in two flavours - a CGI executable (php.exe), and several SAPI modules (for example: php4isapi.dll). The latter form is new to PHP 4, and provides significantly improved performance and some new functionality.


However, please note that the SAPI modules are NOT yet considered to be production quality. In particular, with the ISAPI module, you are likely to encounter serious reliability problems especially on platforms older than W2K - you may witness a lot of server 500 errors and suffer from other server modules such as ASP also failing. You have been warned!

The reason for this is that the PHP SAPI modules are using the thread-safe version of the PHP code, which is new to PHP 4, and has not yet been tested and pounded enough to be considered completely stable, and there are actually a few known bugs. On the other hand, some people have reported very good results with the SAPI modules, even though we're not aware of anyone actually running it on a production site. In short - your mileage may vary; If you need absolute stability, trade the performance of the SAPI modules with the stability of the CGI executable.

If you choose one of the SAPI modules and use Windows 95, be sure to download the DCOM update from the Microsoft DCOM pages. For the ISAPI module, an ISAPI 4.0 compliant Web server is required (tested on IIS 4.0, PWS 4.0 and IIS 5.0). IIS 3.0 is NOT supported. You should download and install the Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack with IIS 4.0 if you want native PHP support.

The following steps should be performed on all installations before the server specific instructions.

Building from source

Before getting started, it is worthwhile answering the question: "Why is building on Windows so hard?" Two reasons come to mind:

  1. Windows does not (yet) enjoy a large community of developers who are willing to freely share their source. As a direct result, the necessary investment in infrastructure required to support such development hasn't been made. By and large, what is available has been made possible by the porting of necessary utilities from Unix. Don't be surprised if some of this heritage shows through from time to time.

  2. Pretty much all of the instructions that follow are of the "set and forget" variety. So sit back and try follow the instructions below as faithfully as you can.


Before you get started, you have a lot to download...

  • For starters, get the Cygwin toolkit from the closest cygwin mirror site. This will provide you most of the popular GNU utilities used by the build process.

  • Download the rest of the build tools you will need from the PHP site at

  • Get the source code for the DNS name resolver used by PHP at This is a replacement for the resolv.lib library included in

  • If you don't already have an unzip utility, you will need one. A free version is available from InfoZip.

Finally, you are going to need the source to PHP 4 itself. You can get the latest development version using anonymous CVS. If you get a snapshot or a source tarball, you not only will have to untar and ungzip it, but you will have to convert the bare linefeeds to crlf's in the *.dsp and *.dsw files before Microsoft Visual C++ will have anything to do with them.

Note: Place the Zend and TSRM directories inside the php4 directory in order for the projects to be found during the build process.

Putting it all together

  • Follow the instructions for installing the unzip utility of your choosing.

  • Execute setup.exe and follow the installation instructions. If you choose to install to a path other than c:\cygnus, let the build process know by setting the Cygwin environment variable. On Windows 95/98 setting an environment variable can be done by placing a line in your autoexec.bat. On Windows NT, go to My Computer => Control Panel => System and select the environment tab.


    Make a temporary directory for Cygwin to use, otherwise many commands (particularly bison) will fail. On Windows 95/98, mkdir C:\TMP. For Windows NT, mkdir %SystemDrive%\tmp.

  • Make a directory and unzip into it.

  • Launch Microsoft Visual C++, and from the menu select Tools => Options. In the dialog, select the directories tab. Sequentially change the dropdown to Executables, Includes, and Library files, and ensure that cygwin\bin, win32build\include, and win32build\lib are in each list, respectively. (To add an entry, select a blank line at the end of the list and begin typing). Typical entries will look like this:

    • c:\cygnus\bin

    • c:\php-win32build\include

    • c:\php-win32build\lib

    Press OK, and exit out of Visual C++.

  • Make another directory and unzip into it. Decide whether you want to have debug symbols available (bindlib - Win32 Debug) or not (bindlib - Win32 Release). Build the appropriate configuration:

    • For GUI users, launch VC++, and then select File => Open Workspace and select bindlib. Then select Build=>Set Active Configuration and select the desired configuration. Finally select Build=>Rebuild All.

    • For command line users, make sure that you either have the C++ environment variables registered, or have run vcvars.bat, and then execute one of the following:

      • msdev bindlib.dsp /MAKE "bindlib - Win32 Debug"

      • msdev bindlib.dsp /MAKE "bindlib - Win32 Release"

    • At this point, you should have a usable resolv.lib in either your Debug or Release subdirectories. Copy this file into your win32build\lib directory over the file by the same name found in there.


The best way to get started is to build the standalone/CGI version.

  • For GUI users, launch VC++, and then select File => Open Workspace and select php4ts. Then select Build=>Set Active Configuration and select the desired configuration. Finally select Build=>Rebuild All.

  • For command line users, make sure that you either have the C++ environment variables registered, or have run vcvars.bat, and then execute one of the following:

    • msdev php4ts.dsp /MAKE "php4ts - Win32 Debug_TS"

    • msdev php4ts.dsp /MAKE "php4ts - Win32 Release_TS"

    • At this point, you should have a usable php.exe in either your Debug_TS or Release_TS subdirectories.

Repeat the above steps with php4isapi.dsp (which can be found in sapi\isapi) in order to build the code necessary for integrating PHP with Microsoft IIS.

Installation of Windows extensions

After installing PHP and a webserver on Windows, you will probably want to install some extensions for added functionality. The following table describes some of the extensions available. You can choose which extensions you would like to load when PHP starts by uncommenting the: 'extension=php_*.dll' lines in php.ini. You can also load a module dynamically in your script using dl().

The DLLs for PHP extensions are prefixed with 'php_' in PHP 4 (and 'php3_' in PHP 3). This prevents confusion between PHP extensions and their supporting libraries.

Note: In PHP 4.0.6 BCMath, Calendar, COM, FTP, MySQL, ODBC, PCRE, Session, WDDX and XML support is built in. You don't need to load any additional extensions in order to use these functions. See your distributions README.txt or install.txt for a list of built in modules.

Note: Some of these extensions need extra dlls to work. Couple of them can be found in the distribution package, in the 'dlls' folder but some, for example Oracle (php_oci8.dll) require dlls which are not bundled with the distribution package.

Copy the bundled dlls from 'dlls' folder to your Windows PATH, safe places are:

c:\windows\system for Windows 9x/Me
c:\winnt\system32 for Windows NT/2000/XP

If you have them already installed on your system, overwrite them only if something doesn't work correctly (Before overwriting them, it is a good idea to make a backup of them, or move them to another folder - just in case something goes wrong).

Table 2-1. PHP Extensions

php_bz2.dllbzip2 compression functionsNone
php_calendar.dllCalendar conversion functionsBuilt in since PHP 4.0.3
php_cpdf.dllClibPDF functionsNone
php3_crypt.dllCrypt functionsunknown
php_ctype.dllctype family functionsNone
php_curl.dllCURL, Client URL library functionsRequires: libeay32.dll, ssleay32.dll (bundled)
php_cybercash.dllCybercash payment functionsNone
php_db.dllDBM functionsDeprecated. Use DBA instead (php_dba.dll)
php_dba.dllDBA: DataBase (dbm-style) Abstraction layer functionsNone
php_dbase.dlldBase functionsNone
php3_dbm.dllBerkeley DB2 libraryunknown
php_domxml.dllDOM XML functionsRequires: libxml2.dll (bundled)
php_dotnet.dll.NET functionsNone
php_exif.dllRead EXIF headers from JPEGNone
php_fbsql.dllFrontBase functionsNone
php_fdf.dllFDF: Forms Data Format functions.Requires: fdftk.dll (bundled)
php_filepro.dllfilePro functionsRead-only access
php_ftp.dllFTP functionsBuilt-in since PHP 4.0.3
php_gd.dllGD library image functionsNone
php_gettext.dllGettext functionsRequires: gnu_gettext.dll (bundled)
php_hyperwave.dllHyperWave functionsNone
php_iconv.dllICONV characterset conversionRequires: iconv-1.3.dll (bundled)
php_ifx.dllInformix functionsRequires: Informix libraries
php_iisfunc.dllIIS management functionsNone
php_imap.dllIMAP POP3 and NNTP functionsPHP 3: php3_imap4r1.dll
php_ingres.dllIngres II functionsRequires: Ingres II libraries
php_interbase.dllInterBase functionsRequires: gds32.dll (bundled)
php_java.dllJava extensionRequires: jvm.dll (bundled)
php_ldap.dllLDAP functionsRequires: libsasl.dll (bundled)
php_mhash.dllMhash FunctionsNone
php_ming.dllMing functions for FlashNone
php_msql.dllmSQL functionsRequires: msql.dll (bundled)
php3_msql1.dllmSQL 1 clientunknown
php3_msql2.dllmSQL 2 clientunknown
php_mssql.dllMSSQL functionsRequires: ntwdblib.dll (bundled)
php3_mysql.dllMySQL functionsBuilt-in in PHP 4
php3_nsmail.dllNetscape mail functionsunknown
php3_oci73.dllOracle functionsunknown
php_oci8.dllOracle 8 functionsRequires: Oracle 8 client libraries
php_openssl.dllOpenSSL functionsRequires: libeay32.dll (bundled)
php_oracle.dllOracle functionsRequires: Oracle 7 client libraries
php_pdf.dllPDF functionsNone
php_pgsql.dllPostgreSQL functionsNone
php_printer.dllPrinter functionsNone
php_sablot.dllXSLT functionsRequires: sablot.dll (bundled)
php_snmp.dllSNMP get and walk functionsNT only!
php_sybase_ct.dllSybase functionsRequires: Sybase client libraries
php_yaz.dllYAZ functionsNone
php_zlib.dllZLib compression functionsNone