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Windows Server 2008 R2 : Manage Internet Information Services (part 1) - Work with the IIS Management Console

6/16/2011 11:33:07 AM
After you have installed IIS, you will have access to the default tool to manage the web server. This tool is the IIS Management Console. However, you may need to install additional components depending on the management needs for your Windows Server 2008 R2 web server or web server farm. The IIS Management Console will also provide you with the ability to manage IIS 7.0 from Windows Server 2008.

IIS also provides the ability for you to manage and support your previous IIS 6 installations. If you need to have these capabilities, simply select them during the IIS server installation. This section will focus on managing IIS 7.5, which is built into Windows Server 2008 R2.

1. Work with the IIS Management Console

You can access the IIS Management Console in one of two ways. You can access the tool via Server Manager under Roles, or you can access the console via the administrative tools. Depending on the screen resolution of the workstation you are managing the server on, you may consider using the selection in the Administrative Tools group. The IIS Management Console can take up a lot of screen real estate. To load the IIS Management Console from the Administrative Tools group, simply select Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager. To access the console, click Start => Administrative Tools => Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager. When you load the console, you will see a screen similar to Figure 1.

The start page gives you some basic tasks, allowing you to connect to other websites and applications. You will also be able to access online websites and help files. One resource specific for IIS you will want to make note of is www.iis.net, which is great website with tons of references and examples for you to use when maintaining your web server.

Figure 1. IIS Management Console

IIS Configuration Files

In prior versions of IIS, configuration was stored in a location called the metabase. You may have used this very unwieldy file. Now in IIS, the configuration is XML-based and is centralized on the server. Three main files make up the IIS manager configuration. The files, by default, are located in your Windows directory in the System32\Inetsrv\Config folder:

  • administration.config: This configuration file contains all the management settings for your IIS server and your management console.

  • applicationhost.config: This stores all the settings for the websites located on your web server.

  • redirection.config: This file allows you to have centralized settings. You can use this file to redirect the IIS server's configuration to a centralized server location.

These files create the main default settings for your web server. A good reference for you to learn more about the configuration files is at http://learn.iis.net/page.aspx/122/getting-started-with-iis-7-configuration/.


The true power in the IIS Management Console is when you first click a server in your management console; you will see a screen similar to Figure 2.

As you can see, this screen is broken up into three panes, typical of most Microsoft Management Consoles, with tree navigation on the left pane, details of the selected object in the middle pane, and actions in the far-right pane. As you navigate the tree or components regarding your website, your details and actions will change.

When you first click your server in the IIS Management Console, your IIS Management Console will show only the components you have currently installed for IIS. With a default installation of IIS only, you will notice your management screen will be broken into three areas: ASP.NET, IIS, and Management. This allows you to navigate quickly around the areas on your IIS server you want to manage. You can also change the view to Category or just list the different areas for you to manage on your server. To change how the IIS management tasks are organized, you can click the Group By option on the toolbar in the console and select your desired view. In Figure 3, you can see an example of an IIS server with ungrouped tasks.

Figure 2. IIS server tasks

Figure 3. IIS tasks ungroup

When you click a site, you will see several of the same administrative tasks you can perform. When you are working with sites, it's important you select the proper level you want to administer. When you first select the server level, all the changes you make will impact the websites on the server. However, you can override the settings by making changes at the website level. The website level allows you to have customized settings of that website.

One of the things you will notice is the tasks all work the same way, and once you learn how to manage tasks at the server level, it is quite easy to apply the same knowledge to the website level. Table 1 describes some of the common tasks you can perform when managing IIS.

Table 1. Common IIS Tasks
Task NameDescription
AuthenticationThis allows you to control which authentication mechanisms are currently enabled. As you may recall, when you install IIS, you can have multiple authentication methods installed. With the Authentication task, you can control which sites use which authentication mechanism.
Default DocumentDefault Document is an important setting for you to use when users connect to a website or server but do not specify a specific page. The default document is what is displayed. You can list many default documents to be used, and they are processed in order.
Error PagesWhen a user encounters an error on your web server or site, you can customize the error messages that users will see. This provides you with a tool to assist the user but also to assist your troubleshooting efforts.
Handler MappingsHandler mappings work similarly to file extensions for documents. For example, when you double-click an .xlsx file, Excel opens. In the web server handler, mappings work with requests for applications. For example, if you open a web page, IIS will know to open the page and, if necessary, open the proper application as in the case of .php websites, for example.
LoggingIf you have installed the logging role service, you will be able to control the default location, how log files are generated, and when logging will occur.
Management ServiceIf you have installed the remote management service, you will be able to configure the service with this task.
Request FilteringRequest filtering allows you to work with and filter content based on protocol or even IP settings. This essentially allows you to set what content will be served to users of your websites.

1.1. Work with Failed Request Tracing Rules

One of the tasks you can use to help troubleshoot errors on your web server is failed request tracing. To be able to take advantage of failed request tracing, you need to install the Tracing role service of IIS.

  1. To open Server Manager, click Start => Administrative Tools => Server Manager.

  2. In Server Manager, click + next to Roles.

  3. Right-click Web Server (IIS), and select Add Role Services.

  4. Select Tracing, and click Next.

  5. Review the summary screen, and click Install.

  6. Review the installation summary, and click Close.

Once you have successfully installed the Tracing role service, you will be able to trace requests to your websites that have failed. This allows you to set certain rules and conditions that, when met, allow you to see what happened and why the error occurred. You can then, ideally, track down the source of the error.

You can create failed request tracing rules at the server level or the site level. However, by default failed request tracing is not enabled at the site level. To enable failed request tracing, you need to modify the site settings:

  1. To open the IIS Management Console, click Start => Administrative Tools => Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.

  2. In the navigation tree, click Sites.

  3. Click the site on which you want to enable failed request tracing.

  4. In the Actions pane on the right, click Failed Request Tracing; you will see a screen similar to Figure 4.

    Figure 4. Enabling site failed request tracing
  5. Click Enable, and set your directory for the log and how many trace files you want to maintain.

  6. Click OK; you will then be able to create tracing rules.

Creating tracing rules at the web server or site level follows the same procedures; the only difference is the scope of the rule. Creating failed request tracing rules follows a similar procedure to creating an email rule:

  1. To open the IIS Management Console, click Start => Administrative Tools => Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.

  2. In the navigation tree, click the server or sites you want to manage.

  3. Double-click Failed Request Tracing Rules in the center pane.

  4. In the Failed Request Tracing Rules screen, click Add in the right Actions pane.

  5. Select the content you want to look for, and click Next.

  6. On the Conditions screen, set the conditions you are looking to trace; you can trace status codes, timeouts, and even the severity level. Before you can continue, you must select either Status Code or Time Taken. Even though these are check boxes that do not seem to be dependent on each other, one of the first two must be selected even if you just want the event severity. When you are done selecting your conditions, click Next.

  7. In the Trace Providers step, you can select which providers you want to trace and to what level of detail you want to see in your log. The more verbose your logs, the bigger the files, but the better chance for you to trace the error. When you are done, click Finish.

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