Introduction: Make Your Computer Into a Server in 10 Minutes (free Software)

Picture of Make Your Computer Into a Server in 10 Minutes (free Software)

This covers how to quickly set up your computer (running Windows) as a server. This will allow you to host your own website from your computer and will let you to make web pages with 'buttons' allowing you to control things in your home (robots, cameras, etc) from the internet (I'll cover that in future instructables).

We'll be using apache: very popular, free, open source server software.

While making your computer into a server will be very quick, you should read through the Apache http server software documentation to learn about how to set it up securely (so that people don't hack into your computer). I'll give this advice but read elsewhere for more:
1) best to install this server software on an old computer that you don't use for anything other than as a server.
2) best to create a seperate user account in windows with limited system access and install this software in that account.

If you want to do this on linux instead of windows (more secure, slightly more complicated) the best combination would be puppy linux and xamp for the server software. Puppy linux can be loaded off a usb jump drive or a CD, so you don't need to uninstall windows, just boot the computer with one of those. Here's easy setup videos for puppy linux:
See this instructable for how to install xamp once you have puppy linux (or some other linux) working:

Step 1: Download Apache Server Software

Picture of Download Apache Server Software

Download the apache http server software from this apache mirror site:
_Or_ go to, navigate to the download from mirrors page, pick a mirror and download from there. As you can see from the above link, you'll want to navigate to the mirror's apache, httpd, binaries, win32 folder.

What To Download:
= You should download the newest version (highest version number), it's 2.2.6 as I type this. Check here to see what the newest version is if you want:
= You want the .msi file, this is a windows installation file (like an .exe)

Step 2: Install It

Picture of Install It

Double click the .msi file you just downloaded, it will install, use the default settings, typical install (unless you want the source code, then do custom install).

It should automatically fill in some form boxes with your DNS server name (in my case it was during the installation.
for server name, put whatever you want, I don't think spaces are allowed though. and make sure after your name you have (or whatever DNS name is).
for email, put in your email (or don't doesn't matter much).

Step 3: Run It

Picture of Run It

Once it's installed I think it starts the server running right away. You can see if it's running by looking for the icon in the lower right of your task bar (see pic). If it's not running and you want to start it, or stop it, just navigate in your start menu (see pic).

if you get an error message when you try to start the server write down the error# and look it up in the documentation or google.

Step 4: Test It

Picture of Test It

Test it out, when you're sure the server is running open a web browser and type:
into the address bar, this should show up (see pic).

Yay, it works, now do something useful with it (will be covered in future instructables,.. maybe)

Step 5: Change the Webpage

Here's an answer I gave to a comment a while ago asking how to change the webpage that pops up when you go to the localhost address.

The default webpage that says "it works" is coded in a file called index.html. You can edit/replace the default index.html file in the folder 'htdocs' which is in your apache folder (wherever you installed it). If you want to work towards home automation you'll need to look into how to code your webpage to access ports on your server (for instance a serial port). These ports can send out electrical signals to things outside of your computer (like robots and microcontroller), thereby allowing 'home automation'. One way of doing this would be to use javascript invoked ActiveX (for instance see:

After you've edited the index.html file you should be able to access that index.html from any other computer on the web by typing in your server's IP address. If your ISP (internet service provider) uses static IP addresses you just type in the IP address every time to access your page. But if your ISP uses dynamic IP addresses you'll need to look up your server's IP address each time you disconnect/reconnect it to the web. There are free services that will do this for you: DNS2Go or

Here are some useful references:


Kanishk Modi (author)2017-11-06

Can I access files on my iPhone using this server method ? I want to make my laptop (Win7 & 8.1) my home server.

PandaTVgaming (author)2017-05-09

the link dose not work you know

AppyM (author)2016-09-17

Can you please also tell how can i host a website using this server ?

OloasK (author)2016-08-06

Apache is not using msi installer anymore on the latest versions. So you have 2 ways to go: you can just google it and download a older version of apache(.msi) in case you really need it OR download the latest binary version on

philips05 (author)2016-05-26

Very innovate approach to develop such a informative, having ability to control your system as a server. I also installed it and find it excellent.

philips05 (author)2016-05-26

Very innovate approach to develop such a informative <a href="">software</a>, having ability to control your system as a server. I also installed it and find it excellent.

Roger Beaudet (author)2016-02-24

There is NO .msi file on the server you suggested.

WayneM38 (author)2016-01-21

When making my game prototype (PHP/MySQL) I ran across a couple tricks on installing and using Apache - standard Xampp - on Windows 10 and included them in my installation notes

MayurT2 (author)2015-07-25

this is what i get in the link.where is the .msi file?

PriyankS3 (author)2015-06-08

Nice work.
It is really very helpful for me.


sunil93 (author)2014-09-27

Good work leevonk, was great help for me,

I am also working on Home Automation project ,but I don't have much idea about HTML coding,can you please recommend some links to start from.

Thanx in advance .

SonuP (author)sunil932014-11-15

I found this site pretty useful in terms of finding simple HTML templates, implementing drop down menu, tabs in JS etc.

sunil93 (author)SonuP2014-11-16

thank you for the link

check this site too. If you want to learn from basic

swetark.shatak (author)sunil932015-01-08

swetark.shatak (author)sunil932015-01-08

Sunil93 contact please

jeric90belgica (author)sunil932014-10-12

-Here. if you really have no idea of building a website you could use this you can download it and you can use it without net.

sunil93 (author)jeric90belgica2014-11-16

thank you for the link :)

jeric90belgica (author)sunil932014-10-12

-Here. if you really have no idea of building a website you could use this you can download it and you can use it without net.

jeric90belgica (author)sunil932014-10-12

-Here. if you really have no idea of building a website you could use this you can download it and you can use it without net.

SonuP (author)2014-11-15

If you want to make it quick just follow these steps on

I was bored of trying various other things but this worked well for me.

sayan.kar.397 (author)2014-11-02

This error message is showing...!!! please help...!!!

Ala ud dinJ (author)2014-09-08

Nice software.

ghost254 (author)2013-10-10

Can this be used as a regular website?

kdatta (author)2012-04-08

is there any other way of hosting a making our site as server

kdatta (author)2012-04-08

reply me i need to start a server........ its not filling the boxes automatically.........

kdatta (author)2012-04-08

if it does not fills the boxes automatically what to do i am not understanding

ganeshjha (author)2011-12-06

kids know more than your post "Make Your Computer Into A Server in 10 Minutes (free software)"

apatni (author)2011-07-17

i want to make 1 system as server n i have 10 system connected in LAN so how i can make a normal system into a server

TheTechGuy99 (author)2011-02-27

could you please tell me the exact name of the file I should download
because there are multiple msi's with the same number

zebsolo (author)2011-02-25

where do you put the website html files

mikemmcmeans (author)2011-02-15

so if i have a dynamic dyns account using the adderess

what exactly should i put in the 3 blanks during install?

Computothought (author)2010-11-11

If you use ddns, you can get a domain free for a limited time.

Once you start using a web server, you will wonder why you never used one before. I run my private apache web server on an old an old pII. It is currently running Ubuntu though I prefer debian when I am not running centos. I had it on I think ubuntu server 6.x and have done in-place upgrades as they came along the way to 9.x. (i.e. no reformatting or disk wiping). This is an example of the actual web pages i run on it. I have since added doing home automation on it. Keep finding uses for that legacy computer. Microsoft Windows Supporters said I should have thrown away a long time ago. It is not what you use, but how you use it.

Wampserver is an alternative to xaamp.

Bongmaster (author)2009-01-02

no i mean puppy linux as in ;)

REA (author)2008-07-26

im going to assume it works for Win 98.

Derin (author)2008-07-09

Oh No!It didnt fill in anything!

Bongmaster (author)2007-11-11

I wouldn't recommend using windows.. try Puppy Linux 8or whatever distro u like) and XAMPP.. fast and easy.. and a hell of a lot more secure..

leevonk (author)Bongmaster2007-11-11

it's a lot easier to do with windows, but yes it would be more secure with linux. I agree that puppy linux would be a good choice since you can load it off a CD so don't even need to uninstall windows.

mikedoth (author)leevonk2007-11-11

I think I agree, i'd like to see it for Linux, perhaps Ubuntu or Suse.

schimmi (author)mikedoth2008-02-04

ubuntu server edition...

petercertik (author)schimmi2008-06-10


leevonk (author)mikedoth2007-11-11

hey, look, tada:

looks like someone has already made a linux xamp installation instructable

PureBreed (author)leevonk2008-04-03

dude, that links already in this instructable, go read it agiain. xD (thats a comliment coming from me BTW, i make stupid mistakes all the time) lol

Bongmaster (author)leevonk2007-11-11

if you get the dotpup of xampp its so easy.. it runs streaght from the get go.. i have been using puppy, and xampp for ages and have no problems. (appart form my hardware.. but thats old)

leevonk (author)Bongmaster2007-11-11

ok, maybe I'll try that, thanks for the advice :)

pmartinez (author)Bongmaster2008-03-26

I agree Xampp with the auto install is much easier, that's what I use.. I like Obuntu linux system as well

PureBreed (author)2008-04-03

if ur rich, go buy a 4,000 dollar server computer. xD wish i had the money

BloodRaven (author)2008-01-18

If you have a computer you use a lot, would it mess it up? I have a vista and wanted to make another account on it and use that as a server, but don't want it being destroyed because of it

cris1133 (author)2008-01-05

ill also host a AA server

cris1133 (author)2008-01-05

nice! now i can host an online game without paying $300 dollars per month

Dark_Helmet (author)2007-12-27

You should cover port forwarding for people without dedicated IP addresses for each computer.

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