Install a web server to a USB memory key for testing on the move
One of the harder parts of web design is testing the website as a whole. Uploading a work-in-progress site to the internet is rarely a good idea but installing a web server on your computer can be tricky.
XAMPP Portable is a handy alternative, it includes all the tools needed to run a webserver but it can be installed onto a USB memory key. Not only does this make your web design work more portable but it increases your safety as you won't leave the server running by mistake.
Although this isn't a custom-made app for Portable Apps, there is a separate app to add it to the Portable Apps Launcher (direct link to XAMPP launcher here)
The smallest download is a 7-zip compressed folder. If you don't already have 7-zip, you can download it here. 7-Zip is a very useful open source compressed folder utility that supports more formats than Windows. Our installation folder ended up at more than 700MB so it's no lightweight.
Once the download has been uncompressed you can start XAMPP by double clicking on the xampp-control application. The Control Panel lets you start and stop the various tools included with XAMPP. It is possible to set these to start automatically. Click on the Config button and then select the tools you want to autostart.
We found that XAMPP didn't work when in a folder on the Desktop but moving it to the root folder of the C: drive made it work.
Once XAMPP is up and running you can double check by starting a web browser and going to localhost. You should then see a big XAMPP logo. Choose English to see the web-based configuration pages.
Although XAMPP is an easier alternative to setting up all of the different servers, they still need some work to get started. A good example is the Filezilla FTP Server. Before you can connect to upload files to the website (we recommend the ever excellent Filezilla client for this) you will need to create a user account.
To do this, click on the Admin button for Filezilla and then on OK in the window that appears. Click on Edit and then Users. Click on Add to create a user. The next step is to add the folder that the user can connect to.
As XAMPP was installed onto our C: directly, C:\xampp\htdocs gave our new user access to the web site in XAMPP. Don't forget to check the boxes to give the user the XAMPP isn't the simplest of tools, or rather collection of tools, but it is a safer environment to try stuff than a live web server. By installing on a USB key you can make absolutely sure that the servers aren't running when they shouldn't.
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A good way of testing websites without risking a live website
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