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Install SilverStripe manually on Windows using IIS 7

This guide will step you through installing SilverStripe on Windows using IIS 7.x as the web server and SQL Server 2008 R2 as the database.

You can use this guide to install SilverStripe on the following:

  • Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 installed
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7

These versions of Windows will NOT work with this guide:

  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows XP

IMPORTANT: Windows Server 2003 users should follow this link to instal SilverStripe.

The goal is to get a good working web server platform so that one or more SilverStripe projects can be easily deployed onto the server using SVN.

We'll also install SQL Server 2008 R2, and support for connecting to it in PHP.


  • Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 installed
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7

Software to install

Install IIS

IIS 7.x comes with Windows. However, it needs to be installed. Follow these steps:

  • Go to Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features
  • Click Turn Windows features on or off. You'll find this under Tasks as a quick link
  • Click Add Roles under the Roles Summary section when Server Manager opens
  • Click Next >
  • Check Web Server (IIS) (if a popup appears, confirm you want to proceed with the change)
  • Click Next >
  • Check CGI in the list - you'll find find it under Application Development
  • Scroll down and check IIS Management Scripts and Tools
  • OPTIONAL: For remote management capability, check Management Service

NOTE: These instructions are slightly different for Windows Vista and Windows 7. Instead of a Server Manager popup, you'll just get a list of features to enable. Do the same as above except click the Internet Information Services checkbox when the Windows Features popup appears and then expand this node and select CGI under World Wide Web Services > Application Development Features.

Once the installation is finished, browse to http://localhost in your browser. If an image pops up, then IIS has been installed correctly.

IIS URL Rewrite Module

  • Go to
  • Click x86 or x64 on the right, depending on whether you installed a x86 or x64 version of Windows
  • Run the downloaded file to install and enable the URL Rewrite Module

IIS Administration Pack

NOTE: Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 (IIS 7.5) users can skip this step, as it's already installed!

Install SQL Server 2008 R2

SQL Server doesn't come with Windows. It must be separately installed.

You can use any version of SQL Server 2008 R2 or SQL Server 2008 with the latest service pack.

If you don't have a license, there's always SQL Server 2008 R2 Express which is feature complete, but restricted to 10GB per database.

Ensure these features are installed with your copy of SQL Server.

  • SQL Server Replication
  • Full-Text Search
  • Management Tools

Installing SQL Server should be relatively straightforward. Keep a note of the password you create for the "sa" user. We'll need this for later when we connect to the database server via PHP to test connectivity.

Install PHP

Recently, a handy tool called PHP Manager for IIS has made installation of PHP on Windows easy.

NOTE: We chose the "Non Thread Safe" version because we'll run PHP as a FastCGI process through IIS. FastCGI ensures a single threaded execution environment so thread safety checks are not required. This provides significant performance gains over using the thread safe version of PHP.

  • Once downloaded, unpack the contents of the zip to C:\php
  • Open Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager and click the server node in the left panel
  • Go to PHP Manager
  • Click Register new PHP version
  • Enter C:\php\php-cgi.exe
  • Click Configure error reporting and choose Development machine (change to Production machine later if you wish. For now we set to development to test PHP is working)

If you need to change any PHP settings, you can do so by clicking Manage all settings in PHP Manager. There is no need to edit C:\php\php.ini any longer, as it can be done from here instead.

The first thing you should do is make sure the date.timezone setting is correct, so open Manage all settings and scroll down to date.timezone and make sure you select your correct timezone.

Install the SQL Server Driver for PHP

The following steps will install the SQL Server Driver for PHP from Microsoft:

  • Download Microsoft Drivers for PHP for SQL Server (2.0)
  • Run the downloaded file, extracting to C:\sqlsrv
  • In Windows Explorer, browse to C:\sqlsrv - you should see a bunch of DLL files
  • Copy php_sqlsrv_53_nts_vc9.dll to C:\php\ext
  • Open PHP Manager in IIS and click Enable or disable an extension
  • Find the php_sqlsrv extension in the list and right click > Enable
  • Restart IIS

Test PHP installation

Now that we've got PHP configured how we want it, let's test that PHP is working correctly.

  • Open PHP Manager in IIS Manager
  • Click Check phpinfo() and use Default web site

You should receive a long page containing PHP configuration information. If you do receive this, PHP has been installed correctly through IIS. Congratulations!

The next part is to install SilverStripe and verify that it works.

Install SilverStripe

Now that we've got the software installed, it's time to install the SilverStripe CMS/framework.

Create a new file called _ss_environment.php in C:\inetpub\wwwroot

This file tells SilverStripe projects installed on this machine which database server and credentials, as well as anything environment specific. More information on setting up the environment file is available.

Inside the newly created _ss_environment.php file, insert the following code:

/* What kind of environment is this: development, test, or live (i.e, production)? */
define('SS_ENVIRONMENT_TYPE', 'dev');
/* Database connection */
define('SS_DATABASE_SERVER', 'localhost');
define('SS_DATABASE_USERNAME', 'sa');
/* Configure a default username and password to access the CMS on all sites in this environment */
define('SS_DEFAULT_ADMIN_USERNAME', 'username');
define('SS_DEFAULT_ADMIN_PASSWORD', 'password');

Insert the password you created for SQL Server earlier into the SS_DATABASE_PASSWORD field that is currently empty.

To install SilverStripe, we're going to use TortoiseSVN so you can check out the code directly from the SilverStripe SVN repository. This is easier than unzipping and moving around files, and any code updates can be pulled in by running "SVN update" from TortoiseSVN.

First of all, install a copy of TortoiseSVN and then follow these steps:

  • In Windows Explorer, browse to your desktop
  • Right click anywhere inside this folder to bring up a context menu and click SVN Checkout
  • Enter into the URL of repository field
  • Click OK
  • Click Yes when warned of creating a new directory
  • Drag the newly created folder to C:\inetpub\wwwroot (you'll be asked for admin permissions to do this)

Install the SilverStripe SQL Server module ("mssql")

  • In Windows Explorer, browse to your desktop
  • Right click anywhere inside this folder to bring up a context menu and click SVN Checkout
  • Enter into the URL of repository field
  • Click OK
  • Move the newly created mssql directory into the ss24 directory inside C:\inetpub\wwwroot (you'll be asked for admin permissions to do this)

Start SilverStripe installer

Open a browser and point it to http://localhost/ss24

If an installation screen shows up, congratulations! We're very close now.

Fill out the details correctly and press "Install SilverStripe".

If all goes to plan, you're done, and you should see a basic template with a few sample pages.

Windows Cache Extension "wincache" for PHP

Microsoft has developed an extension for PHP specifically for Windows. This is designed to work similar to xcache by caching PHP code in bytecode memory for peformance improvements.

It's highly recommended you install this for optimal PHP performance on Windows.

To install it, follow these steps:

  • Download WinCache (x86 PHP 5.3 link is on the right sidebar of the above page)
  • Extract the files to a temporary location like C:\wincache
  • Copy the php_wincache.dll file into the ext directory inside C:\php\ext
  • Open PHP Manager and use Enable or disable an extension to enable the extension
  • Copy wincache.php into C:\inetpub\wwwroot
  • Edit the wincache.php file you just copied, and look for the wincache username and password
  • Replace wincache inside the file with your own username and password
  • Restart IIS

Now that it's installed, all your PHP scripts should be executed considerably faster.

To check if it's installed, have a look at the phpinfo() output and look for wincache.

To examine how it's being cached, visit http://localhost/wincache.php and enter the login details you set up above. This page will show you which files are currently cached and some basic reports of how the module is operating.

Configuring PHP and IIS for production environments

Once your site is configured correctly and PHP is working, it's recommend you choose Production machine in PHP Manager Configure error reporting settings.


Q: How do I debug the IIS 500 Server error "The FastCGI process exited unexpectedly"?

A: This is a very annoying error - basically it means PHP has caused a segmentation fault, probably through itself or one of it's extensions. It's very hard to track down exactly why these errors occur, but there's a few things you can do.

Most of the time, it's caused by a loaded PHP extension that is broken.

Q: I get the error "HTTP Error 500.0 - Internal Server Error - C:\php\php-cgi.exe - The FastCGI process exceeded configured request timeout"

A: A script is running for a long time, such as a unit test. To fix this, you'll need to increase the request timeout to a higher value in both IIS and PHP. Refer to the IIS FastCGI configuration documentation and PHP configuration parts of this document for where to change the appropriate values.

Q: I cannot access SQL Server from a remote server, such as a development environment

A: This is because the firewall settings on the server hosting SQL Server 2008 are too strict - you need to tweak the firewall to accept incoming connections.

Do the following to open a firewall port:

  • In Control Panel, open Windows Firewall
  • Click Allow a program through Windows Firewall
  • Click the Exceptions tab, and then click Add Port
  • In the Add a Port dialog box, in the Name field, enter SQL Server
  • In the Port number box, type the port number of the instance of the Database Engine, such as 1433 for the default instance
  • Verify that TCP is selected, and then click OK

To open the port to expose the SQL Server Browser service, click Add Port, type SQL Server Browser in the Name text box, type 1434 in the Port Number text box, select UDP, and then click OK

And then verify TCP/IP access is enabled:

  • Open SQL Server Configuration Manager
  • In the node "Protocols for MSSQLSERVER" (or for your instance name) verify TCP/IP is Enabled
  • Restart SQL Server if protocol changes were made

Q: When I try running the unit tests, I get this error: "Uncaught Zend_Cache_Exception: cache_dir is not writable"

A: Sometimes you can't access the TEMP folder because the current user doesn't have permission.

The solution is to create a silverstripe-cache directory in your project directory. For example, inside C:\inetpub\wwwroot\silverstripe. Do the following:

  • Create a silverstripe-cache directory in the directory where you installed SilverStripe
  • Right click the newly created directory, and select the Security tab
  • Click the Edit button
  • Click the Users item in the list, and then click the Modify checkbox
  • Click Apply - accept the warning that is given
  • Click OK

NOTE: When fastcgi.impersonate = 1 is set in php.ini, the current user logged in on the domain will be the user the web server runs PHP scripts under e.g "sharvey" if Windows Authentication is enabled. If nobody is logged in, and someone accesses the site anonymously, the web server will run under the "IUSR" credentials.

To find out who the current user is, try echoing the result of get_current_user() inside a test php script.

Q: When I try to access my SilverStripe site for the first time, I get a 404 error

A: Try accessing dev/build?username=admin&password=password at the end of the URL you requested. For example, http://localhost/ss24/dev/build?username=admin&password=password. This will ensure the database is built properly

Q: How do I make IIS expose errors instead of giving a generic 500 or 404 page?

A: In IIS manager, double click Error Pages for the top level server node on the left. You'll be presented with a list of status codes, and a path to the error page. To show detailed errors remotely AND locally, click Edit Feature Settings on the right panel under Actions. From the dialog box that pops up, select Detailed errors. Restart IIS for the changes to take effect. This also means that from now on, the custom error pages SilverStripe generate will be used instead of the default IIS one.

Also, make sure that display_errors, display_startup_errors and html_errors in are set to On in php.ini.

Q: I get a 500 server error when trying to access the SilverStripe site. e.g. http://localhost/ss24

A: One of the reasons why this could be happening is the web.config file inside the ss24 directory has XML that is not well formed. Make sure there are NO spaces before the starting <?xml> tag, and make sure that everything is tabbed out correctly.

One other thing you can do is make sure Show friendly HTTP error messages is unchecked in Internet Explorer. You can find this in Tools > Internet Options > Advanced.

Make sure errors are exposed by following the troubleshooting question above "How do I make IIS expose errors..."

If this still doesn't help, enable Failed Request Tracing in IIS. You could also try using DebugView, a useful debugging tool for Windows.

Q: I get an error about SQL Server Driver for PHP requiring "SQL Server 2008 Native Client ODBC Driver (SP1 or later)"

A: If you're accessing a SQL Server database that's on another server, you need to install SQL Server 2008 Native Client on the client web server that accesses the external database server.

Q: When I try to load the CMS, the SilverStripe logo stays there and the CMS doesn't load.

A: Make sure the assets directory exists, and is writable by the web server. This happens on test/live mode because SilverStripe will try to combine the javascript files, and put them in the assets directory. If it's not writable, or doesn't exist, then the CMS will fail to load.

Q: Performance of SilverStripe is slow on Windows.

A: A non-thread safe of PHP is recommended for use with IIS. Thread safety checks are not required, and you'll get a performance boost by not using a thread safe version. If possible, use a version compiled in VC9 instead of VC6. VC9 versions require you to have the Microsoft 2008 C++ Runtime (x86) or the Microsoft 2008 C++ Runtime (x64) installed

You should also ensure you are using the latest version of the Microsoft Drivers for PHP for SQL Server driver. If possible, you should also use PHP 5.3 which provides performance improvements over 5.2.

Try increasing the IIS MaxInstances in IIS Manager > FastCGI from to a higher value. For quad core CPUs, a higher value such as 32 should prove to provide a performance enhancement.

You can also install wincache, to improve performance on live sites.

You can also try installing and enabling static content compression for IIS on live sites. Do this in IIS Manager > Compression.

Doing all of the above should provide a significant performance boost to your site.

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