I have discovered a powerful new way to set up a test server on a Windows PC. The best part of this new technique is it’s portable and should work on any PC you want. The new technique utilizes a thumbdrive and the software from a company called CH Software. They have developed a very awesome application called WOS Portable II which allows you to create a custom apache webserver configuration and install this to any thumbdrive. Once on the thumbdrive you simply plug it into any PC, start an application on the thumbdrive, and suddenly you have access to a MySQL database and full web server on any PC. The best part is the basic version is free and works great to do testing and development.
To get your own copy go to their download page, select new Download, and select the options you want on your install. I’d suggest php 5 (Not SE), mysql 5 (Not SE), Apache 2 (Not SE), and ImageMagick (this is an image manipulation package), and from the bottom list PhpMyAdmin (helps you add databases to MySQL). You can add some other open source Content Management programs also, but it’s best to try to install things yourself. Once you download the zip file you move the files to your thumbdrive and run the installer–that’s it!
The program creates a wosportable folder on the thumbdrive, and in there is the wos.exe file that you need to run to start the server. Also, place you website files in the folder www within the wosportable folder–then on your pc type “localhost/yoursitefolder” with the name of the folder in www you put your site files in and it will appear in your web browser. If you place the files in the root of the www folder then just type “localhost” to get there.
Now you can play around with anything you want without blowing something up live.