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Easily set up a web server on your own PC with Uniform Server

13 May 2013, Mike Williams

If you’ve created a website and want to test it properly, then you could get some web space, upload all your files and see how everything looks. But that’s not always too convenient, especially if you have to make several changes, as you’ll need to upload the tweaked files each time.

The whole development process can be much faster if you run a web server on your own PC, then. And while this can be complicated – especially if you try to download and install each component individually – it doesn’t have to be that way. Especially if you grab a copy of Uniform Server.

The package includes all the core components you need, with the latest versions of Apache2, MySQL5, Perl5, PHP5, phpMyAdmin and more. Yet it’s a surprisingly compact download at 15MB. And it’s a self-extracting archive, too, so all you have to do is run it, specify a folder and everything will be unpacked there.

Uniform Server’s simple interface means even beginners will have it working quickly

If you’re a server novice then you might be worried about what’s coming next. But it’s all very straightforward. Browse to the UniServer folder and you’ll find three further executables: “help.exe”, “Start_as_program.exe” and “Start_as_service.exe”. Launching either of the executables will fire up everything you need, along with some explanations of what to do next, while Help.exe provides even more details.

Whatever you do, there’s no complex installation here, so you’re not left on your own trying to figure out some MySQL issue, for instance. Simple alerts explain the basic server essentials, and within a few seconds you’ll be looking at the main Uniform Server console. You can start Apache with a click, and immediately you’ll be able to try out PHP or HTML pages just by copying them to your UniServer\www folder.

This all works very well as a development server. You don’t have to run it all the time, it doesn’t add a bunch of extra components to your PC, you could even run it from a USB key on any convenient Windows system.

But Uniform Server also includes everything you need to run a live web server, host your own sites and make them available online. This does require a lot more thought and configuration time, but again the package does a good job of helping you through the setup process. It really is a great way to get started with Apache, PHP, MySQL and more.

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