System requirements | Perception 5.7

Applies to the following products: 
Questionmark Perception
Applies to the following Perception versions: 
Perception 5.7

Note: By default, users don't have administrative user rights if you're logged on as a user other than the built-in administrator on each server. This is also true even if you were added to the local Administrators group on the computer (this is a new security feature in Windows Server called Local User Administrator). If you do not have these privileges, Perception won't install correctly. Log in as the built-in administrator account, or explicitly invoke applications as the built-in administrator by using the Run as administrator command. You'll need to make sure you are logged in as an administrator when completing the installation of Perception.

Before you install Perception, you should ensure that your system(s) meets the minimum requirements. These are listed in the following sections:

Note that you will need administrative permissions for the server on which you will be installing Perception.

Note: The name(s) of the server on which you install Perception and your database servers must not contain any underscores, dashes, or other illegal characters, or the database links will not be created when it comes time to configure Perception. For more information on illegal characters and Questionmark, please refer to Illegal characters.

The system locale of each server must be set to either 2057 or 1033. For more information, see What should the system locale of my Perception server be set to?

Recommended hardware

For in-depth information about the hardware recommended for Perception, see the Question Perception Scalability Guide.

The recommended hardware for Perception 5.7 will depend on the environment you intend to install it in. We recommend:

Perception server:

  • A 64-bit quad-core CPU
  • 8GB RAM

ETL server:

  • A 64-bit quad-core CPU
  • 8GB RAM

Database server(s):

  • The recommended hardware specifications for your database server(s) depends on the load that your database server(s) will need to accommodate; a higher volume of assessments being delivered will require more computing power or you will see degraded performance. As with the recommendations for the Perception and ETL servers, for more details about scalability and recommended hardware requirements, you can refer to the Scalability Guide, but it is recommended that the hardware of your database server(s) is at least as powerful as what is recommended for the Perception and ETL servers.

Note: As Perception can be hardware-intensive at times (especially when delivering a large number of assessments at once), it is recommended that the server you install Perception on is dedicated solely to running Perception. Try to keep your Perception server as free of other programs as possible for maximum performance. If you have other applications or web services, install them on different servers.

Disk space required

Depending on the type of installation you intend to set up, the server on which you want to install Perception must have the required free disk space as highlighted in the following table:

Install type

Free disk space required

Perception software prerequisites/PHP


Basic install

Approximately 2GB

Multi-tiered install

...on a server hosting QPLA: 200MB

...on a server hosting Enterprise Manager: Less than 1GB

...on a server hosting Analytics: Less than 1GB

Additional space will be required to store logs, resources, and database files that are created or required by Perception.

Supported operating systems

Perception is compatible with the following English-language operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

Non-English versions of Windows Server 2008 R2 are not supported. While they might work with Perception after some modifications, please be aware that doing so is at your own risk.

If you want to create assessments that use non-English characters, you will need to install the correct language pack(s). This is to ensure that non-English characters can be displayed by Perception and the database server(s) used. For further information about installing language packs, please refer to Language packs.

Supported database systems

The following database systems and versions can be used with Perception:

  • SQL Server 2012
  • SQL Server 2014

If you'll be using Perception for production use, Perception should be installed on an application server (or servers) and the databases should be installed on separate servers.

Note: The database servers should have a minimum of 8GB RAM.

Installation notes

In SQL Server, there are two database collations to set, the SQL Server collation and the Database collation.

For English and non-English characters to appear correctly when using SQL Server, your collations should be set as:

  • SQL Server collation must be configured to use the SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS collation. This collation utilizes the 1252 (ANSI - Latin 1) codepage. The SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS collation is the case-insensitive version. You should take care not to use the case-sensitive version of the collation. The case-sensitive version can be identified with the initials CS appearing in the collation title while the case insensitive version can be identified by the initials CI. This collation must be set when installing SQL Server. Please be aware that when installing SQL Server 2008, it will automatically attempt to get the most-appropriate collation depending on what the server locale has been set as. In most cases, this will need to be manually changed to use the SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS collation.
  • Database collation must be set to SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS to ensure that all data written in Perception is stored and displayed correctly. It will be set to this collation by Perception when it is installed.

Note: Please note that the collation used should be SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS, not Latin1_General_CI_AS.

Users wishing to set up the English version of Perception on a non-English operating system should ensure that the correct language packs are installed for both the database and the operating system. Additionally, the language pack 1252 (ANSI - Latin 1) must be installed for both servers and the SQL Server collation and database collation set to SQL_Latin1_General_Cp1_CI_AS.

The question searching facility in Authoring Manager requires the full-text indexing component of SQL Server to be installed and configured and will not work without it. Once full-text indexing is installed, it will need to be enabled for the database before the repository is created.

Note: Make sure that the SQL Server authentication mode is set to Mixed Mode (SQL Server authentication and Windows authentication).

Supported browsers

For information about the supported web browsers for Enterprise Manager and the Questionmark portal, please refer to the following Knowledge Base article:

Software prerequisites

The applications required by Perception are listed below:

  • Internet Information Services (IIS) 
    • IIS 7 or 7.5 for Windows Server 2008
    • IIS 8 or higher for Windows Server 2012
  • .NET 2.0
  • .NET 3.5
  • .NET 4.0
  • .NET 4.5 (if installing Perception 5.7 with Service Pack 2 or using Windows Server 2012)
  • ASP.NET MVC 3 + Microsoft ASP.NET MVC Security Update MS14-059 (KB2990942)
  • Microsoft Chart Controls for Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
  • PHP and the corresponding Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio
    • PHP 5.6.4 is supported for Perception 5.7 with Service Pack 1, Service Pack 2, and Service Pack 3.
    • PHP 7.1.19 is supported for Service Pack 4.
    • PHP 7.3.20 is supported for Service Pack 5.
  • Windows Server AppFabric
    • AppFabric 6.1 on Windows Server 2008 R2
    • AppFabric 1.1 on Windows Server 2012
  • SQL Server 2008 R2/2012/2014


  • SMTP

For more information on each of the programs, as well as installation instructions, see:

1. Install and configure the prerequisites (for a basic install)

2a. Install and configure the prerequisites (for a load-balanced install)

For a multi-tiered install, refer to steps 25, and 8.

License files

When you install Perception, a license is included that allows you to use the product for 30 days. After this evaluation period expires, you will need to obtain a valid license. Please refer to Licensing Perception for more information after you have installed Perception.

Virtual environments

Perception can be installed and run in virtual environments. Questionmark supports installations of Perception in the following virtual environment platforms:


VMWare is a virtualization solution produced by VMWare Inc. and is the market leader in virtualization. VMware software provides a completely virtualized set of hardware to the guest operating system.


Hyper-V is a hypervisor-based virtualization system for 64-bit systems. It is a new virtualization technology that Microsoft implemented in Windows Server 2008 and directly replaces Microsoft Virtual Server. Hyper-V is built in to the host and guest operating systems and allows for improved performance over Microsoft's traditional virtualization methods.

If using virtual environments care should be taken to ensure that the host computer running the virtualization software is robust and powerful to ensure that Perception is not left without the ability to create and store data or process actions. The virtual environments need to be setup to work as hardware based machines and should be setup with adequate amounts of memory, hard drive space and processor speed. The network configuration for the virtual environment will depend on your organization network setup, but Perception has been tested extensively using a bridged network connection from the virtual environment to the physical network.

Note: Questionmark Perception is multi-threaded, but it is not specifically vSMP aware. It will use whatever resources the guest operating system makes available to it. While it can be run on guest operating systems that utilize a single vCPU or multiple vCPUs, it is unable to communicate directly with the host operating system in a virtualized environment to optimize resources via vSMP.

The workload of delivering assessments from Perception is handled by IIS. IIS assigns a response to a thread and thus the processor use is determined by IIS and not by Perception.

General virtualization tips include:

  • Don't mix single vCPU and multiple vCPU guests on a single host.
  • Prevent the straddling of CPUs, e.g., a server with 2x 6-core CPUs cannot run 3x 4-vCPU guests efficiently, as one would straddle two CPUs.
  • Ensure host capacity is capable of supporting all guest operating systems under load. If the host constantly runs at close to 100%, consider separating some of the guest systems to other hosts.