Unlike Internet web servers that run on advanced computers and server racks, personal web servers run on your home or office computers. You can even use multiple personal web servers on a single computer. One reason to run one or more on your computer is for desktop web development. It doesn’t matter what type of computer you use, the word “desktop” in this case means the screen you’re looking at. If you can install a personal web server on a tablet or a smartphone, then that can be your desktop for web development.
Ease of Use
Probably the worst personal web servers to use are those that are more difficult to set up properly than a real web server would be to set up. Luckily, it’s been a few years since I’ve come across any like that.
Regular Linux desktop users are probably aware of more ways to set one up on Linux machines than I am. Although I’ve been a Linux desktop user in the past (and I still use one distribution or another in a virtual machine), I’ve never completely set up any personal web servers in anything other than a Windows virtual machine.
Some personal web servers for Windows are easy to set up and some are not so easy. It’s best to read the documentation before installing any of them. I’ve had experience with some of them, but not all of them and it’s been a while since I installed any at all, so I can’t offer any opinions.
Personal Web Servers
I’m going to list a few and you’ll have to check them out individually to see if any of them suit you.
- Bitnami stacks including WAMP (Windows) and LAMP (Linux).
- XAMPP versions for Windows, Linux, Mac and Solaris
- WampServer for Windows only.
For developing WordPress plugins and themes, Instant WordPress can be used and it’s based on Server2Go. I’m using Server2Go for my desktop web development because it’s simple and it includes only what I need. If I need something more, I’ll probably switch to XAMPP.
Other than Web Development
Personal web servers can be used for other things besides web development. If configured for production instead of development, some of them can be used as servers on local area networks.
I’ve heard of personal web servers being used as game servers, file servers and other types of servers I can’t even remember. Your imagination is the limit – almost anything you can use a web server for on the Internet, you can also use it for off the Internet.