Built-in web server


This web server was designed to aid application development. It may also be useful for testing purposes or for application demonstrations that are run in controlled environments. It is not intended to be a full-featured web server. It should not be used on a public network.

As of PHP 5.4.0, the CLI SAPI provides a built-in web server.

The web server runs a only one single-threaded process, so PHP applications will stall if a request is blocked.

URI requests are served from the current working directory where PHP was started, unless the -t option is used to specify an explicit document root. If a URI request does not specify a file, then either index.php or index.html in the given directory are returned. If neither file exists, the lookup for index.php and index.html will be continued in the parent directory and so on until one is found or the document root has been reached. If an index.php or index.html is found, it is returned and $_SERVER['PATH_INFO'] is set to the trailing part of the URI. Otherwise a 404 response code is returned.

If a PHP file is given on the command line when the web server is started it is treated as a "router" script. The script is run at the start of each HTTP request. If this script returns FALSE, then the requested resource is returned as-is. Otherwise the script's output is returned to the browser.

Standard MIME types are returned for files with extensions: .3gp, .apk, .avi, .bmp, .css, .csv, .doc, .docx, .flac, .gif, .gz, .gzip, .htm, .html, .ics, .jpe, .jpeg, .jpg, .js, .kml, .kmz, .m4a, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .mpeg, .mpg, .odp, .ods, .odt, .oga, .ogg, .ogv, .pdf, .pdf, .png, .pps, .pptx, .qt, .svg, .swf, .tar, .text, .tif, .txt, .wav, .webm, .wmv, .xls, .xlsx, .xml, .xsl, .xsd, and .zip.

Changelog: Supported MIME Types (file extensions)
Version Description
5.5.12 .xml, .xsl, and .xsd
5.5.7 .3gp, .apk, .avi, .bmp, .csv, .doc, .docx, .flac, .gz, .gzip, .ics, .kml, .kmz, .m4a, .mp3, .mp4, .mpg, .mpeg, .mov, .odp, .ods, .odt, .oga, .pdf, .pptx, .pps, .qt, .swf, .tar, .text, .tif, .wav, .wmv, .xls, .xlsx, and .zip
5.5.5 .pdf
5.4.11 .ogg, .ogv, and .webm
5.4.4 .htm and .svg

Example #1 Starting the web server

$ cd ~/public_html
$ php -S localhost:8000

The terminal will show:

PHP 5.4.0 Development Server started at Thu Jul 21 10:43:28 2011
Listening on localhost:8000
Document root is /home/me/public_html
Press Ctrl-C to quit

After URI requests for http://localhost:8000/ and http://localhost:8000/myscript.html the terminal will show something similar to:

PHP 5.4.0 Development Server started at Thu Jul 21 10:43:28 2011
Listening on localhost:8000
Document root is /home/me/public_html
Press Ctrl-C to quit.
[Thu Jul 21 10:48:48 2011] ::1:39144 GET /favicon.ico - Request read
[Thu Jul 21 10:48:50 2011] ::1:39146 GET / - Request read
[Thu Jul 21 10:48:50 2011] ::1:39147 GET /favicon.ico - Request read
[Thu Jul 21 10:48:52 2011] ::1:39148 GET /myscript.html - Request read
[Thu Jul 21 10:48:52 2011] ::1:39149 GET /favicon.ico - Request read

Example #2 Starting with a specific document root directory

$ cd ~/public_html
$ php -S localhost:8000 -t foo/

The terminal will show:

PHP 5.4.0 Development Server started at Thu Jul 21 10:50:26 2011
Listening on localhost:8000
Document root is /home/me/public_html/foo
Press Ctrl-C to quit

Example #3 Using a Router Script

In this example, requests for images will display them, but requests for HTML files will display "Welcome to PHP":

// router.php
if (preg_match('/\.(?:png|jpg|jpeg|gif)$/'$_SERVER["REQUEST_URI"])) {
false;    // serve the requested resource as-is.
} else { 
"<p>Welcome to PHP</p>";
$ php -S localhost:8000 router.php

Example #4 Checking for CLI Web Server Use

To reuse a framework router script during development with the CLI web server and later also with a production web server:

// router.php
if (php_sapi_name() == 'cli-server') {
/* route static assets and return false */
/* go on with normal index.php operations */
$ php -S localhost:8000 router.php

Example #5 Handling Unsupported File Types

If you need to serve a static resource whose MIME type is not handled by the CLI web server, use:

// router.php
$path pathinfo($_SERVER["SCRIPT_FILENAME"]);
if (
$path["extension"] == "el") {
header("Content-Type: text/x-script.elisp");
else {
$ php -S localhost:8000 router.php

Example #6 Accessing the CLI Web Server From Remote Machines

You can make the web server accessible on port 8000 to any interface with:

$ php -S
add a note add a note

User Contributed Notes 16 notes

jonathan at reinink dot ca
3 years ago
In order to set project specific configuration options, simply add a php.ini file to your project, and then run the built-in server with this flag:

php -S localhost:8000 -c php.ini

This is especially helpful for settings that cannot be set at runtime (ini_set()).
oan at vizrt dot com
9 months ago
I painfully experienced behaviour that I can't seem to find documented here so I wanted to save everyone from repeating my mistake by giving the following heads up:

When starting php -S on a mac (in my case macOS Sierra) to host a local server, I had trouble with connecting from legacy Java.

As it turned out, if you started the php server with
"php -S localhost:80"
the server will be started with ipv6 support only!

To access it via ipv4, you need to change the start up command like so:
"php -S"
which starts server in ipv4 mode only.
Mark Simon
1 year ago
It’s not mentioned directly, and may not be obvious, but you can also use this to create a virtual host. This, of course, requires the help of your hosts file.

Here are the steps:

1    /etc/hosts

2    cd [root folder]
    php -S

3    Browser:

Combined with a simple SQLite database, you have a very handy testing environment.
gyunaev at gmail dot com
3 months ago
You can also print messages to the server's STDOUT via error_log().

Also the documentation doesn't make it clear that when you use router script if a PHP file is requested and you return false, the PHP file will be served (i.e. you do not need to load and eval it manually).
Ivan Ferrer
4 years ago
On Windows you may find useful to have a phpserver.bat file in shell:sendto with the folowing:
explorer http://localhost:8888
rem check if arg is file or dir
if exist "%~1\" (
  php -S localhost:8888 -t "%~1"
) else (
  php -S localhost:8888 -t "%~dp1"

then for fast web testing you only have to SendTo a file or folder to this bat and it will open your explorer and run the server.
matthes at leuffen dot de
1 year ago
To output debugging information on the command line you can write output to php://stdout:


file_put_contents("php://stdout", "\nRequested: $path");
"<p>Hello World</p>";
tamas at bartatamas dot hu
3 years ago
If your URI contains a dot, you'll lose the $_SERVER['PATH_INFO'] variable, when using the built-in webserver.
I wanted to write an API, and use .json ending in the URI-s, but then the framework's routing mechanism broke, and it took a lot of time to discover that the reason behind it was its router relying on $_SERVER['PATH_INFO'].

dwingardjr at gmail dot com
2 months ago
Just a note to people who also use windows 8.1, or anyone who has had this problem when running the using the PHP server CLI.

`PHP -S localhost:8000 -t /public` <-- Not going to work.

`PHP -S localhost:8000 -t public` <-- Works!

And there is something else up in the notes saying something about you can't serve a project folder and a router file. Well, actually you can! At least for me.

`PHP -S localhost:8000 router.php -t public` <-- Perhaps someone tries this and it doesn't work.

`PHP -S localhost:8000 -t public router.php` <-- Works!
arsensafarian1984 at gmail dot com
4 days ago
submit_btn.addEventListener(MouseEvent.CLICK, sendMessage);
function sendMessage(e:MouseEvent):void{
var my_vars:URLVariables = new URLVariables();
my_vars.senderName = name_txt.text;
my_vars.senderEmail = email_txt.text;
my_vars.senderMsg = message_txt.text;

var my_url:URLRequest = new URLRequest("mail.php");
my_url.method = URLRequestMethod.POST; = my_vars;

var my_loader:URLLoader = new URLLoader();
my_loader.dataFormat = URLLoaderDataFormat.VARIABLES;

name_txt.text = "";
email_txt.text = "";
message_txt.text = "Message Sent";

simonbengt at gmail dot com
2 years ago
My routing file looks like this:

if (file_exists($_SERVER["DOCUMENT_ROOT"] . $_SERVER["REQUEST_URI"])) {
    return false;
} else {
    require "index.php";

The reason is to support all static files.
ohcc at 163 dot com
10 months ago
$_SERVER['SERVER_ADDR'] is not defined when using php as the built-in commandline web server, so you can not use $_SERVER['SERVER_ADDR'] to detect the Server's IP address.

P.S.: This is tested on Windows with PHP 7.1 on 2016-12-22.

Below is the printed $_SERVER variable.

    [DOCUMENT_ROOT] => E:\Programs\PHPServer\www\srv
    [REMOTE_ADDR] =>
    [REMOTE_PORT] => 10865
    [SERVER_SOFTWARE] => PHP 7.1.0 Development Server
    [SERVER_NAME] =>
    [SERVER_PORT] => 8080
    [REQUEST_URI] => /
    [SCRIPT_NAME] => /index.php
    [SCRIPT_FILENAME] => E:\Programs\PHPServer\www\srv\index.php
    [PHP_SELF] => /index.php
    [HTTP_HOST] =>
    [HTTP_CONNECTION] => keep-alive
    [HTTP_CACHE_CONTROL] => max-age=0
    [HTTP_USER_AGENT] => Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/55.0.2883.87 Safari/537.36
    [HTTP_ACCEPT] => text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,image/webp,*/*;q=0.8
    [HTTP_DNT] => 1
    [HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING] => gzip, deflate, sdch
    [HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE] => zh-CN,zh;q=0.8,en-US;q=0.6,en;q=0.4
    [HTTP_COOKIE] => qbbs_2132_saltkey=fZ7509n5; qbbs_2132_lastvisit=1482156014; Hm_lvt_f812a4362ef73c80c4d13485d1ab3a49=1482159614; _ga=GA1.2.1594404236.1482159615; su=727vL6EEPLqjcyfJcad-za9eVYOh1i7e; Hm_lvt_6a65b0f2004e441e86ecea9c3562d997=1482232509,1482241896,1482242293,1482296586
    [REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT] => 1482390410.65625
    [REQUEST_TIME] => 1482390410
leandro at leandroleite dot info
1 year ago
when I need to up a server for develop with rewrite, I use it:

// php -S -file webServer.php

// webServer.php
if (preg_match('/\.css|\.js|\.jpg|\.png|\.map$/', $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'], $match)) {
$mimeTypes = [
'.css' => 'text/css',
'.js'  => 'application/javascript',
'.jpg' => 'image/jpg',
'.png' => 'image/png',
'.map' => 'application/json'
$path = __DIR__ . $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];
    if (
is_file($path)) {
header("Content-Type: {$mimeTypes[$match[0]]}");
php dot chaska at xoxy dot net
2 years ago
Note that to listen on a naked IPv6 address, you have to strangely enclose the address in so-called square brackets.  Example:

$ php -S [9990:116:a001:1900::1001]:8080 -t web/
eyecatchup at gmail dot com
4 months ago
Note: The built-in web server has a file size limit. For files larger than 5 GB, it will always serve a "File not found" error page.
ohcc at 163 dot com
1 year ago
Do NOT use the -t option if you want to use a router script, you can change current working directory to the web document root before launching the php built-in web server.

[works fine]

cd /d C:\Web\Server
php -S router.php -n -d expose_php=0 -d display_errors=0 -d extension_dir="ext"

[always gets a 500 error]

php -S router.php -t C:\Web\Server -n -d expose_php=0 -d display_errors=0 -d extension_dir="ext"
1 year ago
I improved Ivan Ferrer's phpserver.bat to open the Send To'd files in the browser directly:-

rem check if arg is file or dir
if exist "%~1\" (
  explorer http://localhost:8888
  php -S localhost:8888 -t "%~1"
) else (
  explorer http://localhost:8888/%~nx1
  php -S localhost:8888 -t "%~dp1"
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