How to Install PHP on IIS 7 for Windows Server 2008

One of most popular development platforms on the web is PHP which powers many popular applications and sites such as Facebook, WordPress and Joomla. While most of these systems are ‘designed’ to be used on a Linux system running the Apache Web Server, you can deploy PHP applications via IIS 7 on your Windows Server 2008 system.

Configuring PHP

In order for Windows to run PHP code, the PHP binary files need to be copied to your system. No installation is required, however some configuration must be done in order for it to properly run. The first step is to download the PHP Windows Binaries and extract them (i.e. ‘C:PHP’). For IIS 7, the non thread safe binaries should be used.

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Copy the ‘php.ini-production’ file from the extracted files paste it into the Windows directory. In the Windows directory, rename this file to ‘php.ini’.

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Open the ‘php.ini’ file in Notepad and configure it as needed. Out of the box, the production configuration we copied is preconfigured for what the PHP Team feels is good for a production server. There are a few changes you will need to make to configure PHP for your IIS 7 system:

  • Uncomment and set the key, cgi.force_redirect = 0
  • Uncomment the key, fastcgi.impersonate = 1
  • Uncomment and set the key, extension_dir to the ‘ext’ folder in the path PHP was extracted to (i.e. ‘C:PHPext’).
  • Set the key, date.timezone to the time zone of your server (the URL on the line above this key lists the accepted values).

At this point, your Windows system can run PHP scripts from the command line using the ‘php.exe’ tool.

Configuring IIS 7 to Run FastCGI

Internet Information Services (IIS) 7 includes the FastCGI framework as part of the installation package. To make sure it is enabled in your IIS 7 installation, check the Role Services under Server Manager > Roles > Web Server.

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Make sure the “CGI” option is installed under the “Application Development” section. If it is not, enable this feature and update your IIS 7 installation.

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Once IIS is set, install the IIS 7 Administration Pack. If you do not use the “Typical” setup then make sure you have the “FastCGI” option set to install. This package installs the FastCGI configuration interface inside the IIS Manager.

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Configuring IIS to Run PHP via FastCGI

Once IIS 7 is setup with all the required features, we just need to configure it to run PHP. First, we configure FastCGI to work with PHP under the “FastCGI Settings” option (this feature is installed as part of the IIS 7 Administration Pack).

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In the FastCGI Settings screen, add an application.

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Set the path to the ‘php-cgi.exe’ executable located in the folder where you extracted the PHP Windows binaries. Additionally, change the “InstanceMaxRequests” to a value higher than the default (i.e. 5000). Under the “EnvironmentVariables” setting, click the ellipses button to configure additional options.

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Add a new variable named “PHP_MAX_REQUESTS” and set the value to the same amount as the “InstanceMaxRequests” setting above.

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Apply all settings until you get back to the primary IIS Manager screen.

Next, we have to map how PHP scripts are executed by IIS which is configured in “Handler Mappings”.

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In the Handler Mappings, add a new module mapping.

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Set the module’s request path to PHP files (*.php) with the module interface “FastCgiModule”. Set the executable to the same file as what was configured in the FastCGI settings above. Assign a friendly name to this mapping, such as PHP, and click Ok.

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When you get the confirmation prompt, answer “Yes” to confirm you want PHP to run as a FastCGI application.

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Apply all your changes, close and restart IIS to make sure the new settings take effect.

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Once this is done, there is a Microsoft hotfix available (a link is available in the links section) which addresses some issues with PHP when running under IIS 7. These should be installed on your web server to ensure PHP functions properly through FastCGI.

Testing PHP

At this point, your server is ready to go, but just to be sure we can confirm your PHP setup through IIS pretty easily. Create a text file in the directory ‘C:Inetpubwwwroot’ named ‘phpinfo.php’ which simply contains the line:

<?php phpinfo(); ?>

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Finally, browse to the address: ‘http://localhost/phpinfo.php’ on your server and you should see the PHP information page. If the page loads successfully, PHP is now up and running on your machine.

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Conclusion

Once you have PHP up and running on your Windows system, you can take advantage of the multitude of PHP based applications available as well as develop and deploy your own.

Links

Download PHP Windows Binaries (non thread safe)

Download IIS 7 Administration Pack

Download PHP Hotfix for IIS 7 FastCGI (x86 / x64)

Jason Faulkner is a developer and IT professional who never has a hot cup of coffee far away. Interact with him on Google+