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March 21, 2008

How to Install IIS 7 and Setup a Static Website in 13 Easy Steps

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Why install IIS? The most obvious answer is because you need a web server that is easy to configure and work with. IIS 7 in Windows Server 2008 is a completely different animal than it has been in the past.

It seems Microsoft may have finally created a version of IIS that will compete against Apache for functionality and performance. IIS 7 is a giant step forward for the IIS platform with the following enhancements:

  • Modular Design – In the past it was an all or nothing install for IIS, but not so anymore. With the ability to only load the modules that you need for server operation you increase both performance and security
  • New Management Interface – IIS 7 has a completely new interface that allows you to quickly and easily change the settings you need to for each site. Also in this version is the ability to edit all the website settings in a text based configuration file
  • Share tasks with site owners – If you are hosting multiple sites you can delegate administrative control to developers or content owners

In this article we will explore installing and enabling the basic features of IIS 7 and placing a static website into service. For this article, I will assume that you have installed Server 2008 and know how to launch Server Manager.

Installing IIS 7 on Windows Server 2008

Since the IIS web server is not installed by default, the first thing we have to do is install IIS as a role for the server we are working on.

1. Click on Start -> Administrative Tools -> Server Manager

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2. In Server Manager scroll down to Roles Summary, and click on Add Roles

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3. The Add Roles Wizard starts at this point and warns you that if you are going to add a role to make sure:

  • The administrator account has a strong password
  • Network settings, such as static IP, are configured
  • The latest security updates from Windows Updates are installed

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4. Click Next to go the Add Server Role page. Place a checkmark next to Web Server (IIS) and then click on the button Next

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5. The next page will give you some basic information on IIS Web Servers and a few links with extra information if needed. Click on the button Next to continue

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6. The next window is the Select Role Services. This very important screen will allow you to add only the modules necessary for your planned installation of IIS.

When you choose a module in this screen in the upper right corner you will get more information about what the module is for. For our example we are going to load the following modules:

  • Static Content – Lets the Web server publish static Web file formats, such as HTML pages and image files.
    Use Static Content to publish files on your Web server that users can view using a Web browser.
  • Default Document – Lets you configure a default file for the Web server to return when users do not specify a file in a URL.
    Default Documents make it easier and more convenient for users to reach your Web site.
  • HTTP Errors – Allows you to customize the error messages returned to users’ browsers when the Web server detects a fault condition.
    Use HTTP Errors to provide users with a better user experience when they run up against an error message. Consider providing users with an e-mail address for staff who can help them resolve the error.
  • HTTP Redirection – Provides support to redirect user requests to a specific destination.
    Use HTTP redirection whenever you want customers who are using one URL to actually end up at another URL. This is helpful in many situations, from simply renaming your Web site, to overcoming a domain name that is difficult to spell, or forcing clients to use a secure channel.
  • HTTP Logging – Provides logging of Web site activity for this server.
    When a loggable event, usually an HTTP transaction, occurs, IIS calls the selected logging module, which then writes to one of the logs stored in the files system of the Web server. These logs are in addition to those provided by the operating system.
  • Request Filtering – Screens all incoming requests to the server and filters these requests based on rules set by the administrator.
    Many malicious attacks share common characteristics, like extremely long requests, or requests for an unusual action. By filtering requests, you can attempt to mitigate the impact of these types of attacks.
  • IIS Management Console – Provides infrastructure to manage IIS 7 by using a user interface.
    You can use the IIS management console to manage a local or remote Web server that runs IIS 7. To manage SMTP or FTP, you must install and use the IIS 6 Management Console.

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7. Click Next to get to the Confirm Installation Selections screen to verify your chosen settings.

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8. Click Install and installation will start

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9. After installation you should see the Installation Results page. Click Close to finish the process.

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10. In the Server Manager window, under Roles Summary, you should now see Web Server (IIS)

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11. Let’s go ahead and open IIS Manager by going to Start -> Administrative Tools -> Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager

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12. Once IIS Manager opens, expand out the web server and then expand the Sites folder. Right click on sites and then click on Add Web Site

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13. In the Add Web Site window we have some basic information to fill out for a static site:

  • Site Name – Name of the site, this will be either domain.com or *.domain.com (Where * would represent a sub domain name such as www or blog for example)
  • Physical Path – The location on the local server that will hold the files for the website. If you did not set this up beforehand you can create a folder through this interface
  • Type – choose either http or https depending on whether your site will use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate or not
  • IP Address – From the dropdown you can specify what IP the website should answer on or use the default switch of All Unassigned
  • Host Name – If you would like this site to respond to other domain names you can put these here

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You have now installed IIS 7 and configured a static website. Just place your html files in the directory you specified when creating the site and you are good to go.

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About the Author

(MCTS, MCP, A+) has been working in the IT field since leaving the U.S. Army in 1996.  Working his way up from printer hardware repair to running a corporate datacenter for a multinational corporation, Dave has seen many environments throughout the years. Focusing on web sites and search engine optimization the last few years, with the release of Server 2008 it has renewed his passion for the Wintel platform and server technologies. David also runs Windows-Server-Training.com where he posts free videos and walk-throughs for a variety of server technologies. David currently works as a freelance technical consultant and writer for a variety of companies in the Chicago area.

Author's Website: http://www.DaveLawlor.com


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