Apache PHP Handler
From Joomla! Documentation
To determine which method your web server is using to handle php files use the Administrator / System / Information links and select the PHP Information tab. Search the page for Server API. The common ways for an Apache web server to handle PHP files include the following:
- Advantage: one of the fastest handlers available.
- Disadvantage: only works with a single version of PHP, files saved by php scripts are owned by the Apache user.
- To recognise: Server API - Apache 2.0 Handler
- Advantage: scripts run as the domain or subdomain user, very fast handler.
- Disadvantage: slower than mod_php, cannot put PHP configuration changes in an .htaccess file.
- To Recognise: Server API - CGI/FastCGI
- Advantage: very fast, additional level of flexibility.
- Disadvantage: uses more memory than most of the others, cannot put PHP configuration changes in an .htaccess file.
- To Recognise: Server API - FPM/FastCGI
On a local laptop or desktop computer you can use mod_php but you need to set the Apache user to your own username and point the document root to a location in your own file space. Otherwise you will have file and folder permissions problems.
On a hosting service you need to use one of the FastCGI alternatives. Hosting services may give you a choice.