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Apache HTTP Server

Running Apache for Windows as a Service

Apache can be run as a service on Windows NT/2000. (There is also some experimental support for similar behavior on Windows 95/98, introduced with Apache 1.3.13).

Installing Apache as a service should only be done once you can successfully run it in a console window. See Using Apache with Microsoft Windows before you attempt to install or run Apache as a service. Changes to the httpd.conf file should always be followed by starting Apache as a console window. If this succeeds, the service should succeed.

NOTE: Prior to version 1.3.13, the configuration was not tested prior to performing the installation, and a lack of service dependencies often caused the console window to succeed, but the service would still fail. See below if you are having problems running a version of Apache prior to 1.3.13 to resolve the issue. If you have this problem with version 1.3.13 or greater, first try uninstalling (-u) and re-installing (-i) the Apache service. Better yet, upgrade to the most recent version.


To start Apache as a service, you first need to install it as a service. Multiple Apache services can be installed, each with a different name and configuration. To install the default Apache service named "Apache", choose the "Install as Service for All Users" option when launching the Apache installation package. Once this is done you can start the "Apache" service by opening the Services window (in the Control Panel, hidden in "Administrative Tools" on Windows 2000), selecting Apache, then clicking on Start. Apache will now be running, hidden in the background. You can later stop Apache by clicking on Stop. As an alternative to using the Services window, you can start and stop the "Apache" service from the command line with

  NET START APACHE
  NET STOP APACHE

See Controlling Apache as a Service for more information on installing and controlling Apache services.

Apache, unlike many other Windows NT/2000 services, logs most errors to its own error.log file, in the logs folder within the Apache server root folder. You will find few Apache error details in the Windows NT Event Log. Only errors as Apache attempts to start are captured in the Application Event Log.

After starting Apache as a service (or if you have trouble starting it) you can test it using the same procedure as for running in a console window. Remember to use the command:

  apache -n "service name"

to assure you are using the service's default configuration.

Running Apache for Windows as a Service

Note: The -n option to specify a service name is only available with Apache 1.3.7 and later. Earlier versions of Apache only support the default service name 'Apache'. Only version 1.3.21 supports Windows 2000 ability to 'rename' the display name of a service.

You can install Apache as a Windows NT service as follows:

    apache -i -n "service name"

To install a service to use a particular configuration, specify the configuration file when the service is installed:

    apache -i -n "service name" -f "\my server\conf\my.conf"

You can pass any other arguments, such as -d to change the default server root directory, -D, -C or -c to change config file processing, etc. Since these are stored in the registry and are difficult to modify, use this command to clear the options and replace them with a new list of options;

    apache -k config -n "service name" -f "\my server\conf\my.conf"

To remove an Apache service, use:

    apache -u -n "service name"

The default "service name", if one is not specified, is "Apache".

Once a service is installed, you can use the -n option, in conjunction with other options, to refer to a service's configuration file. For example:

To test a service's configuration file and report the default options for the service (configured with -i, -k install or -k config) use:

    apache -n "service name" -t

To start a console Apache using a service's configuration file and its default options, use:

    apache -n "service name"

Effective with Apache release 1.3.15, the -k install option was added as an alias to -i, and the -k uninstall option was added as an alias to -u. The original -i and -u options are deprecated in Apache 2.0. These aliases were added to ease the transition for administrators running both versions.

Important Note on service dependencies:

Prior to Apache release 1.3.13, the dependencies required to successfully start an installed service were not configured. After installing a service using earlier versions of Apache, you must follow these steps:

    Run regedt32
    Select Window - "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE on Local Machine" from the menu
    Double-click to open the SYSTEM, then the CurrentControlSet keys
    Scroll down and click on the Apache servicename
    Select Edit - Add Value... from the menu
    Fill in the Add Value dialog with 
        Value Name: DependOnGroup 
        Data Type: REG_MULTI_SZ
        and click OK
    Leave the Multi-String Editor dialog empty and click OK
    Select Edit - Add Value... from the menu
    Fill in the Add Value dialog with 
        Value Name: DependOnService
        Data Type: REG_MULTI_SZ
        and click OK
    Type the following list (one per line) in the Multi-String Editor dialog
        Tcpip
        Afd
        and click OK

If you are using COM or DCOM components from a third party module, ISAPI, or other add-in scripting technologies such as ActiveState Perl, you may also need to add the entry Rpcss to the DependOnService list. To avoid exposing the TCP port 135 when it is unnecessary, Apache does not create that entry upon installation. Follow the directions above to find or create the DependOnService value, double click that value if it already exists, and add the Rpcss entry to the list.

Other installations may require additional dependencies. If any files required at startup reside on a network drive, you may need to first configure the service to depend on the network redirector (usually lanmanworkstation) and follow the directions below under the "User Account for Apache Service to Run As" section.

Attempting to use both IIS and Apache, on the same port but on two different IP addresses may require the W3SVC (IIS) to start prior to Apache, because IIS tries to glom onto all IP addresses (0.0.0.0) as it starts, and will fail if Apache has already started on a specific IP address.

Apache 1.3.21 introduces a MUCH simpler way to add a dependency. The -W "servicename" argument modifies the -k install or -k config commands to configure a dependency for Apache. Multiple -W arguments may be given, but they should all occur after the -k option. For example, to add the LanmanWorkstation dependency to an installed "Apache" service, use this command:

    apache -k config -n Apache -W LanmanWorkstation

User Account for Apache Service to Run As (NT/2000)

When Apache is first installed as a service (e.g. with the -i option) it will run as user "System" (the LocalSystem account). There should be few issues if all resources for the web server reside on the local system, but it has broad security privileges to affect the local machine!

LocalSystem is a very privileged account locally, so you shouldn't run any shareware applications there. However, it has no network privileges and cannot leave the machine via any NT-secured mechanism, including file system, named pipes, DCOM, or secure RPC.

NEVER grant network privileges to the SYSTEM account! Create a new user account instead, grant the appropriate privileges to that user, and use the 'Log On As:' option. Select the Start Menu -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Services -> apache service ... and click the "Startup" button to access this setting.

A service that runs in the context of the LocalSystem account inherits the security context of the SCM. It is not associated with any logged-on user account and does not have credentials (domain name, user name, and password) to be used for verification.

The SYSTEM account has no privileges to the network, so shared pages or a shared installation of Apache is invisible to the service. If you intend to use any network resources, the following steps should help:

If you allow the account to log in as a user, then you can log in yourself and test that the account has the privileges to execute the scripts, read the web pages, and that you can start Apache in a console window. If this works, and you have followed the steps above, Apache should execute as a service with no problems.

Note: error code 2186 is a good indication that you need to review the 'Log On As' configuration, since the server can't access a required network resource.

Troubleshooting Apache for Windows as a Service

When starting Apache as a service you may encounter an error message from Windows service manager. For example if you try to start Apache using the Services applet in Windows Control Panel you may get the following message;

  Could not start the apache service on \\COMPUTER
  Error 1067; The process terminated unexpectedly.

You will get this error if there is any problem starting Apache. In order to see what is causing the problem you should follow the instructions for Testing Apache at the Command Prompt.

Also, Apache 1.3.13 now records startup errors in the Application Event Log under Windows NT/2000, if Apache is run as a service. Run the Event Viewer and select Log ... Application to see these events.

Check the Application Event Log with the Event Viewer in case of any problems, even if no error message pops up to warn you that an error occurred.

Running Apache for Windows from the Command Line

For details on controlling Apache service from the command line, please refer to console command line section.

Controlling Apache as a Service

Multiple instances of Apache can be installed and run as services. Signal an installed Apache service to start, restart, or shutdown/stop as follows:

    apache -n "service name" -k start
    apache -n "service name" -k restart
    apache -n "service name" -k shutdown
    apache -n "service name" -k stop

For the default "Apache" service, the -n Apache option is still required, since the -k commands without the -n option are directed at Apache running in a console window. The quotes are only required if the service name contains spaces.

Note: the -k stop alias for the -k shutdown command was introduced in Apache version 1.3.13. Earlier versions of Apache will only recognize the -k shutdown option. Prior to 1.3.3, Apache did not recognize any -k options at all!

Note that you may specify startup options on the apache -k start command line, including the -D, -C and -c options. These affect the processing of the service configuration, and may be used with an <IfDefine> block to conditionally process directives. You may also override the server root path or configuration file with the -d or -f options. The options should also be passed to the -k restart command, but they are ignored if the service is running, and only processed if the service is started.

The service also appears in the Service Control applet on Windows NT/2000. For NT, this is found in the Settings -> Control Panel -> Services entry, and on 2000 it is found in the Settings -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services entry. Here you can select the desired Apache service to start or stop it. Pass additional options such as -D, -C and -c, or override the default -d or -f options in the Start Parameters box before clicking the Start button. These options behave identically to the apache -k start command.

In addition, you can use the native Windows NT/2000 command NET to start and stop Apache services:

    NET START "service name"
    NET STOP "service name"

Again, quotes are only required if the service name contains spaces. There is no way using the NET START command to pass additional options such as -D, -c or -C using the NET START command. If options are required, use one of the other two methods instead.

Experimental Windows 95/98 Service

Note: The service options for Windows 95 and 98 are only available with Apache 1.3.13 and later. Earlier versions of Apache only supported Apache in a console window for Windows 95/98.

There is some support for Apache on Windows 95/98 to behave in a similar manner as a service on Windows NT/2000. It is experimental, if it works (at all) the Apache Software Foundation will not attest to its reliability or future support. Proceed at your own risk!

Once you have confirmed that Apache runs correctly at the Command Prompt you can install, control and uninstall it with the same commands as the Windows NT/2000 version.

There are, however, significant differences that you should note:

Apache will attempt to start and if successful it will run in the background. If you run the command

   Apache -n "service name" -k start

via a shortcut on your desktop, for example, then if the service starts successfully a console window will flash up but immediately disappears. If Apache detects any errors on startup such as a incorrect entries in the httpd.conf file, then the console window will remain visible. This may display an error message which will be useful in tracking down the cause of the problem, and you should also review the error.log file in the Apache logs directory.

Windows 95/98 does not support NET START or NET STOP commands so you must use Apache's Service Control options at a command prompt. You may wish to set up a shortcut for each of these commands so that you can just choose it from the start menu or desktop to perform the required action.

Apache and Windows 95/98 offer no support for running the Apache service as a specific user with network privileges. In fact, Windows 95/98 offers no security on the local machine, either. This is the simple reason that the Apache Software Foundation never endorses the use of Windows 95/98 as a public httpd server. These facilities exist only to assist the user in developing web content and learning the Apache server, and perhaps as a intranet server on a secured, private network.


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