Making Acquia Dev Desktop more suitable for development on Windows

drupal planet

Recently Realityloop ran Aegir based deployment training and we had a reasonable proportion of Windows and Linux users at the course, as it turns out only the Mac users didn't run into any problems at all on the day.

Although we had given the windows users instructions for setting up Drush and Acquia Dev Desktop we found out on the day that this is a very poor solution without doing some additional work.

Outlined below are the steps to get a fully functioning setup using just Acquia Dev Desktop and a few extra components that are required, Hopefully Acquia will get these added for a future release of Dev Desktop!

Step 1: Uninstall Drush for windows

Once we're done you will be using the version of Drush that is already packaged with Acquia Dev Desktop.

Step 2: If you don't already have Dev Desktop installed, add it now.

You can download Acquia Dev Desktop from:

Step 3: Download the extra components that are required

Download the following packages and extract their contents to the \common\bin folder within the folder where Acquia Dev Desktop was installed, eg. C:\Program Files\acquia-drupal\common\bin

The binaries zip link
The binaries zip link
The binaries zip link
libssl32.dll at openvpn from

Because the last link is really slow here is a zip that includes all the required files:

Step 4: Add the required Environment variables

Now right click on My Computer, select Properties then Advanced System Settings followed by the Environment Variables button. Click the New... button in the User variables section and populate as follows replacing [yourusername] with your actual username:

Variable name: 

Variable value on win xp: 
C:\Documents and Settings/[yourusername]
Variable value on win 7:   C:\Users\[yourusername] (win 7)

Highlight the Path value in System variables and click Edit... then append the following to the end of the Variable value field (please confirm that these are the correct paths for your version of windows, replacing as required):

  1. ;C:\Program Files\acquia-drupal\common\bin\;C:\Program Files\acquia-drupal\mysql\bin\;C:\Program Files\acquia-drupal\php5_3\;C:\Program Files\acquia-drupal\drush\

Click Ok until all settings windows have closed.

Step 5: Profit!

Now your all set and drush will work properly from the regular command prompt.


This tutorial assumes that you have a .ssh folder in your home directory for storing ssh key's, though this is only required if you are trying to use things like drush sql-sync to remote servers. It's been tested and works a treat!


We are working on a next gen version of Dev Desktop now and will be sure to incorporate your feedback! Much appreciated.

Submitted by chris.brookins@... on April 8, 2013 - 10:28am

Great Chris, if you can ping me at the appropriate time I'll update the post once the release is done so that people don't try and run through these steps once they don't need to anymore.

Submitted by Brian Gilbert on April 8, 2013 - 10:34am

I have installed Acquia Dev Desktop along with Drush for windows, and besides the need to move the files and setting.php from Acquia Dev Desktop multisite installation I haven't found any problem on using Drush on windows. Is there anything I've been missing by using this approach?, I mean why messing around with path variables and stuff if everything is working pretty much out the box.

Submitted by Carlos on April 8, 2013 - 12:42pm

It works fine if all you are using is drush dl and drush en, but when you get to trying to work with remote servers it won't work for things like drush sql-sync etc.. The only reason we recommend to remove drush is that it's less configuration using Acquia Dev Desktop which already comes with drush anyway.

Submitted by Brian Gilbert on April 8, 2013 - 4:08pm

One HUGE gap in dev desktop for windows users, not sure if there's a similar issue on the linux side, is having to have the applet running to have the site up. There can be any number of reasons a server gets rebooted and dev desktop won't be running unless there's an auto login and it's included in the startup folder.

There really really needs to be a config option to run apache and mysql as windows services set to auto start.

Even when you set it up manually, you'll then get an error when starting the dev desktop applet and the services are already running.

Submitted by just-passin-thru on April 9, 2013 - 12:58am

Thanks for great tutorial ;)

Works fine win8 (64)- (Acquia Dev Desktop 7.22)

Submitted by tevfik on April 17, 2013 - 7:49pm

hello -- thank you for the tutorial. I was able to get Drush running for the most part but I'm unable to enable modules. When I issue the "enable" command, I get the following error:

Command pm-enable needs a higher bootstrap level to run - you will need to invoke drush from a more functional Drupal environment to run this command.
The drush command 'en backup_migrate' could not be executed.
Drush was not able to start (bootstrap) the Drupal database.

Do you know how to address this error?


Submitted by robinsf21 on May 2, 2014 - 6:30am

First of all great thanks, at last drush got working through cygwin. just wanted to know is this possible to upgrade the drush to latest version on github

Submitted by Fahad on June 28, 2014 - 7:02am

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