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When designing websites on your local computer, there is nothing better than having a local webserver to test your site out. Developers making changes to a website on a host is not the best thing. Popular CMS packages like WordPress and Joomla make it easy to make changes to a site, but you don’t want to do it on a live host. So what can make your life easier? We all know most people are using Windows computers and setting up a suitable environment for PHP development can be tedious and difficult. So there is a great solution out there that can do it for you. Its called WAMP. It is like a mini server that contains Apache, MySQL, and PHP and it runs on Windows (hence, “WAMP”).
Download it from http://www.wampserver.com.

I put together some brief instructions on setting up the package, but you should definitely read the documentation to ensure your WAMP server is running to your specifications.

Instructions:

1. Download WAMP
2. Run the install
3. Reboot

Its that easy. After reboot, you can browse your websites using localhost.

The default installation directory for your sites is C:WAMPWWW. In this directory you can create a new folder for each new project (i.e. “C:WAMPWWWWP“). To manage your databases, all you have to do is browse to localhost, and select pHpMyAdmin. In pHpMyAdmin you can create as many databases as you want.

Installing a CMS like WordPress is easy. In the directory root, create a new folder for WordPress, fore example: “C:WAMPWWWWP“. Unzip the WordPress package in here and then browse to http://localhost/WP and install the package…it’s that easy.

Once you have your files and databases all ready to go, you will see a fully functioning version of your website on your local PC. An internet connection is not required since the website is running locally. Furthermore, pages load instantly without a single seconds delay. If you want to make changes just use windows explorer and open the website root directory.

For this example, go to C:WAMPWWWWP and make any changes to the files there in notepad or your preferred editor (i.e., Dreamweaver). You are editing the site locally, no need to FTP and upload any file after you make changes to see the results. Just hit F5 to refresh your browser. This is a great solution as you are not editing a live site keeping your errors away from the world on top of saving you the headache of FTP’ing.

Although you should be running a Firewall, the WAMP package seems to be well secured. While there is an option to put your site “online”, I would only recommend using WAMP to test files in”offline” mode. You can get a completely working version of your website, and then you can just dump it all onto your host.  Dump your MySQL databases to SQL files so you can easily update your database on your host using something like pHpMyAdmin. Its really simple using the import feature.

Hope this helps…it did for me.

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