Do You Need a Web Server for PHP?


Heather Bennett

Do You Need a Web Server for PHP?

PHP is a widely used server-side scripting language that powers millions of websites and web applications. If you are new to PHP development, you may wonder whether you need a web server to run your PHP code. In this article, we will explore this question and provide you with a clear answer.

What is a Web Server?

Before diving into the question, let’s first understand what a web server is. A web server is a computer program or software that serves HTML files, CSS stylesheets, JavaScript files, and other assets to clients over the internet. In simple terms, it listens for incoming requests from users’ browsers and responds by sending back the requested files.

PHP’s Built-in Web Server

If you are just starting with PHP development or working on small projects, you may be pleased to know that PHP comes with its own built-in web server. This means you don’t necessarily need a separate web server like Apache or Nginx to run your PHP code.

To start the built-in web server in PHP, open your command line interface and navigate to the root directory of your PHP project. Then run the following command:

  • php -S localhost:8000

This command will start the PHP built-in web server on port 8000 of your localhost.

The Advantages of Using the Built-in Web Server

The built-in web server provided by PHP has several advantages:

  • Simplicity: It eliminates the need for configuring and managing an external web server.
  • Portability: You can easily move your PHP project to different environments without worrying about web server compatibility.
  • Quick setup: With a single command, you can start serving your PHP files.

The Limitations of the Built-in Web Server

While the built-in web server is great for small projects and quick development, it does have some limitations:

  • Not suitable for production: The built-in web server is not designed to handle high traffic or serve your application in a production environment. For that, you will need a dedicated web server like Apache or Nginx.
  • Limited configuration options: The built-in web server provides basic configuration options. If you require advanced functionalities like URL rewriting or SSL support, an external server would be more appropriate.

Using an External Web Server

If you are working on a larger project or planning to deploy your PHP application to a live server, it is advisable to use an external web server. Apache and Nginx are two popular choices among developers.

To use an external web server, you need to install and configure it on your machine or hosting provider. Once installed, you can place your PHP files in the appropriate directory (usually called “htdocs” or “www”) and access them through your browser using the assigned URL.

The Benefits of Using an External Web Server

Here are some benefits of using an external web server:

  • Scalability: External servers have features and optimizations specifically designed for handling large-scale applications and high traffic loads.
  • Advanced configuration options: You have full control over the server configuration, allowing you to fine-tune performance, security, and other aspects.
  • Integration with other tools: External servers seamlessly integrate with other technologies like databases, caching systems, and load balancers.


In conclusion, whether you need a web server for PHP depends on the size and nature of your project. For small projects and quick development, the built-in web server provided by PHP is a convenient option. However, for larger projects or production environments, it is recommended to use an external web server like Apache or Nginx for better scalability and advanced configuration options.

Now that you have a clear understanding of when to use a web server for PHP, you can make an informed decision based on your specific needs. Happy coding!

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