Built-in web server


This web server is 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.

The CLI SAPI provides a built-in web server.

The web server runs 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
Version Description
7.4.0 You can configure the built-in webserver to fork multiple workers in order to test code that requires multiple concurrent requests to the built-in webserver. Set the PHP_CLI_SERVER_WORKERS environment variable to the number of desired workers before starting the server. This is not supported on Windows.

This experimental feature is not intended for production usage. Generally, the built-in Web Server is not intended for production usage.

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

Note that prior to PHP 7.4.0, symlinked statical resources have not been accessible on Windows, unless the router script would handle these.

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

The built-in Web Server should not be used on a public network.

add a note

User Contributed Notes 15 notes

jonathan at reinink dot ca
9 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()).
Mark Simon
7 years 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 www.example.com

2 cd [root folder]
php -S www.example.com:8000

3 Browser:

Combined with a simple SQLite database, you have a very handy testing environment.
oan at vizrt dot com
6 years 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.
tamas at bartatamas dot hu
9 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'].

matthes at leuffen dot de
7 years 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>";
Ivan Ferrer
10 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.
deep at deepshah dot me
3 years ago
Listen on all addresses of IPv4:
php -S

Listen on all addresses of IPv6:
php -S [::0]:80
dachund at gmail dot com
5 years ago
I fiddled around with the internal webserver and had issues regarding handling static files, that do not contain a dot and a file extension.

The webserver responded with 200 without any content for files with URIs like "/testfile".

I am not certain if this is a bug, but I created a router.php that now does not use the "return false;" operation in order to pass thru the static file by the internal webserver.

Instead I use fpassthru() to do that.

In addition to that, my router.php can be configured to...
- ... have certain index files, when requesting a directory
- ... configure regex routes, so that, if the REQUEST_URI matches the regex, a certain file or directory is requested instead. (something you would do with nginx config or .htaccess ModRewrite)

Maybe someone finds this helpful.



= ['index.html', 'index.php'];
$routes = [
'^/api(/.*)?$' => '/index.php'

$requestedAbsoluteFile = dirname(__FILE__) . $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];

// check if the the request matches one of the defined routes
foreach ($routes as $regex => $fn)
if (
preg_match('%'.$regex.'%', $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']))
$requestedAbsoluteFile = dirname(__FILE__) . $fn;

// if request is a directory call check if index files exist
if (is_dir($requestedAbsoluteFile))
foreach (
$indexFiles as $filename)
$fn = $requestedAbsoluteFile.'/'.$filename;
if (
$requestedAbsoluteFile = $fn;

// if requested file does not exist or is directory => 404
if (!is_file($requestedAbsoluteFile))
header($_SERVER['SERVER_PROTOCOL'].' 404 Not Found');
printf('"%s" does not exist', $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']);

// if requested file is'nt a php file
if (!preg_match('/\.php$/', $requestedAbsoluteFile)) {
header('Content-Type: '.mime_content_type($requestedAbsoluteFile));
$fh = fopen($requestedAbsoluteFile, 'r');

// if requested file is php, include it
include_once $requestedAbsoluteFile;
sony at sony-ak dot com
3 years ago
To send environment variable as long as with PHP built-in web server, type like this.

~$ MYENV=dev php -d variables_order=EGPCS -S

On PHP script we can check with this code.

echo getenv('MYENV'); // print dev
dwingardjr at gmail dot com
6 years 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!
4 years ago
For serving static content like .css or .js and otherwise using a router (for me it was index.php) this worked out of the box for me:

php -S localhost:8000

Due to my router file was index.php. But

php -S localhost:8000 index.php

did not work, because my static files are not served via my router.
gyunaev at gmail dot com
6 years 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).
ohcc at 163 dot com
6 years 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_PORT] => 10865
[SERVER_SOFTWARE] => PHP 7.1.0 Development Server
[SERVER_PORT] => 8080
[SCRIPT_NAME] => /index.php
[SCRIPT_FILENAME] => E:\Programs\PHPServer\www\srv\index.php
[PHP_SELF] => /index.php
[HTTP_HOST] => www.wuxiancheng.cn:8080
[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
2 years ago
If you have trouble with a project using both dynamic routes containing dots (giving unexpected 404 errors) and static file hosting paste this in your index.php

// Support cli server for local development
if (php_sapi_name() === 'cli-server') {
$fileName = __DIR__.parse_url($_SERVER["REQUEST_URI"], PHP_URL_PATH);
if (file_exists($fileName) && !is_dir($fileName)) return false;

Then run the internal server directly on the file:

php -S index.php
eyecatchup at gmail dot com
6 years 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.
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