if_exist question

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Hi together,
I would like to test whether localhost ia on or off
I tried to lacate a file

Localhost: XAMPP with php [PHP: 5.0.4]

if (file_exists($file)) echo("Localhost eingeschaltet");

The path is ok I am able to open the file i the browser
I tried also :
if (file_exists($DOCUMENT_ROOT.$file))
both are not working

As I know is if_exists working on the local machine.
Is it local from the php view, means at the server or local from the  
client view?
Viele Grüße Knut

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