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A step by step guide on how to install php 5.3.6 in Microsoft Windows

(php 5.3.6 Page 1 of 7)

Install PHP 5.3.6 on Microsoft Windows

Module Introduction


PHP 5.3.6 [Release Date: 17-Mar-2011]
-> (Official Release Notes here) <-
-> (Get PHP5 certification here) <-
PHP 5.3.7 [Release Date: 18-Aug-2011] (bug issue, defer to Php 5.3.8 release)
PHP 5.3.8 [Release Date: 23-Aug-2011] (This guide currently points to both the 5.3.6 release and the 5.3.8 release downloads. You can use this guide to install either version)

This Training Module has the purpose to instruct the Website Administrator on how to successfully install, test and maintain PHP 5.3.6 on Apache 2.2 using the freely available .msi Windows installer for Windows Operating System computers.

Php Hypertext Preprocessor is a popular open-source server-side scripting language which the Website Administrator can utilize to create and return a more personalized HTML experience for his website visitors. Forms and DataBase interaction are often used together to make this possible. Other popular uses can include website registration (password entry), tracking cookies and gzip compression for faster web browser file transfer.

Server-side is defined here as meaning the Central Processing Unit (cpu) on the Web Site Server will need be utilized to perform a processing function which has been initiated by the PHP portion of any script embedded (coded) in our HTML (.php) file prior to completing the webpage transfer to the end user.

The new release of PHP Version 5.3.6 from 5.3.5 gives php users an improved server side scripting software and has corrections and fixes to over 60 previously known bugs.

Probably, the biggest notable change in this 5.3.6 release of Php is that this marks the first official release which is not compatible with www.apache.org's Windows Version download of apache 2.2.19. Apache module users should note that php5_apache2_2.dll in 5.3.6, 5.3.7, and 5.3.8 releases are not compiled for compatibility with the currently endorsed apache-windows 2.2.19 or earlier installations. Simply put, if you are using Apache HTTP server downloaded from apache.org, then use Php 5.3.5 or earlier.

Official support for Php 5.2x is also now ceasing.

So the first question the apache-windows user must resolve is "Does he want to use, or is he currently using, officially endorsed Apache HTTP server software". If yes, then use our PHP 5.3.5 guide (or earlier) to download and install your Php software. Further data on where to obtain unofficial Apache-Windows software for use with Php 5.3.6+ can be found on page 2 of this guide.

This change is specific to users of the Windows Operating System only and users of other operating systems (Unix, Linux etc.) are not affected by this change. The author of this guide recommends the setup of a free linux system. Ubuntu (Linux) for example which will easily share a windows partition and comes with many programs you are already familiar with to give you an idea of how easy it is to use and serve your web files using this very powerful operating sytem.


On completion of this module, the Website Administrator will have demonstrated that he is able to install, configure and understand how to add further packages to PHP5.3.6 on a Microsoft Windows computer running Apache HTTP server.

Moreover, the Website Administrator will gain an understanding on the basic differences that exist between PHP installation packages. By exploring the data contained in this guide and through various linked resources, he will be positioned to make a more informed decision on how and why to configure PHP to better suit his own or his clients needs.

He will gain insight into what features to look for when selecting packages from third party vendors to add extra capabilities to any PHP installation.

The more the Website Administrator understands, can and does use the basic tools of his trade, the better his service will be to his client base.

Stepping through this guide can also resolve many Php 5.3.6 issues, problems, errors and crashes that may arise during the software setup process.


How to use this Guide:

The Left Side Install Guide Index lists the various wizard windows you will encounter as well as other timely selections that can offer insight to questions which may arise in, around and about the installation process to give you the best set of options for your installation. This includes a trouble shoot section to assist users in resolving common installation errors or faults. Below this main PHP 5.3.6 index are adverts to either other sections of this site, or perhaps to third party Google placed advertisements inviting you to explore services which may be of interest to those in our field.

The Center (colored) column contains the PHP 5.3.6 installation data and includes highlighted [red] links which give further relevant or source information regarding the subject at hand.

The top Right Side Index contains the most current of WAS installation guides which are publicly available at this time. This column may also display direct links to any archived WAS guides for specific earlier versions. (eg. Php 5.3.5)

If you are seeking the fastest no questions asked PHP 5.3.6 Windows install, then this Five Step Method would be the method to use:

  1. Guide Index: Download the Software. Go to the red download link php-5.3.6-Win32-VC6-x86.msi Thread Safe [27Mb] link. Save then Start that download.
  2. Guide Index: PHP Destination Folder. Change the install destination to C:\PHP\
  3. Guide Index: PHP Website Server. Select Apache 2.2.x Module
  4. Guide Index: Apache Config Directory. Browse to, select and confirm the location of Apache Conf folder
  5. Guide Index: Ready to Install. Select install. Let PHP install to your system.

And you are done. Don't forget to re-start Apache. Go to Test section if desired. If using this method and your apache refuses to start, you may wish to review or use the setup method instructions in the 5.3.5 guide.

The above method assumes your user account privileges are that of a Computer Administrator (See User Accounts in help [press F1 key when at the DeskTop with all applications minimized]). You should also have the power to update and save the Apache HTTP Server configuration file (httpd.conf).

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Preliminary PHP 5.3.6 Installation Steps:

Though PHP5.3.6 can be installed as stand-alone software, most use the software in conjunction with HTTP Server Software like Apache or IIS. If you have not done so, and plan to write PHP code for use on a Website Server, you should install that HTTP server software onto your computer now. Those who plan to use Apache can use our Website Administration Services Installation Guide for "apache server 2.2" which is linked on the above right.

The installation of this PHP 5.3.6 software is the same for MicroSoft:

  • Windows XP SP3 (not SP1 or SP2),
  • Server 2003,
  • Vista,
  • Server 2008 (incl. R2) or
  • Windows7 operating systems.

Note: Windows XP with Service Pack 3 installed is now the minimum operating system requirement (by production date) to install PHP5.3.x

If planning to install this software on an older operating system such as Windows 95/98/Me, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 or other older Windows 32bit versions than those listed above, you may require an update of support files for the Microsoft Installer or other Service Pack Updates. You will also need to obtain and use PHP5.2 or earlier (PHP4.2 for Win95). These operating systems are no longer officially supported in PHP5.3.x releases. If you are unwilling or unable to update your XP from SP1 or SP2, you will also need to use PHP5.2.

Installing and using PHP and other associated programs as Administrator or with the highest Administrator privileges is recommended in most situations.

If using Windows Vista, 2008 or 7, User Account Control [UAC] need either be Disabled or have the UAC Privilege Levels set correctly for PHP 5.3.6 and associated programs to integrate correctly. There can be other common issues encountered during install which may be traced back to your virus checker or system monitoring programs or even other running programs which may inhibit updating system files which in turn prevent Apache to start. These can give an apparency that PHP has not been correctly installed.

It is highly recommended you carry out a preliminary apache check to ensure your Apache HTTP Server is working correctly before you action this tutorial.

If you are unsure how to test your Apache HTTP server installation, or how to locate your home directory (the document root) for your server, then please first review the appropriate section(s) in the above linked "apache server 2.2" WAS Installation Guide.

The reason being is that our first step after installing PHP 5.3.6 is to re-start our Apache HTTP server which re-loads Apache's httpd.conf to include our Php configuration. This immediately tests if our modifications are working without error. Apache can fail to start or crash if PHP has not been configured correctly. You can not use php until you have re-started apache.

By testing Apache first, we also pre-empt any situation where we attempt to troubleshoot a PHP configuration error when the cause actually lays elsewhere.

Secondly, to conclude this tutorial, we load a test PHP script through our HTTP server to demonstrate our PHP 5.3.6 installation has been successful.



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With Apache HTTP Server powering over 120 million Webservers world-wide today and thanks to Apache and other developers, Windows users can now run this triumvirate of must have server software on their Windows computers.