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Managing and Troubleshooting Web Server Resources

Unlike Windows 2000 Server and Windows .NET Server, Windows XP Professional is designed for the desktop, and therefore, Internet Information Services (IIS) is not installed by default. IIS version 5.1 ships with Windows XP Professional. You must manually install IIS by going to the Control Panel, double-clicking the Add Or Remove Programs icon, and clicking the Add/Remove Windows Components button. Mark the checkbox for Internet Information Services (IIS). After you select Internet Information Services (IIS), you can click the Details button to add or remove selective IIS components before you proceed with the installation. Click Next to have the Windows Components Wizard install the Web server resources for you. If you upgrade your computer from Windows NT 4 Workstation (or from Windows 2000 Professional) to Windows XP Professional, IIS 5.1 is installed automatically, provided that you had installed Peer Web Services (or IIS 5) on your previous version of Windows.

Before you can install IIS, your computer must already have the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) network protocol and its related connectivity utilities installed. In addition, Microsoft recommends that you have a Domain Name System (DNS) server available on your network for hostname to IP address resolution. For very small networks, you may use a HOSTS file or a LMHOSTS file in lieu of a DNS server. A HOSTS file maps DNS host computer names to IP addresses. A LMHOSTS file maps NetBIOS computer names to IP addresses. Windows XP Professional looks for these two text files in the %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc folder. Sample HOSTS and LMHOSTS files are also installed by default into this folder.

After you have installed IIS, you manage the services from the Internet Information Services snap-in of the MMC. You can launch the IIS Console by clicking Start|All Programs|Administrative Tools|Internet Information Services. From the IIS Console, you can administer the default FTP site (not installed by default), default Web site, and the default Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) virtual server for the Windows XP Professional computer, as shown in Figure 3.16.

Figure 3.16 The Internet Information Services Console.

Additional, HTML-based documentation on IIS administration is available by pointing to http://localhost/ in your Web browser, as shown in Figure 3.17.

Figure 3.17 The Getting Started Web page for IIS HTML-based help documentation.

IIS Console: Administering the Default Web and FTP Sites

You can view and modify the settings for each IIS service through the IIS Console by right-clicking the root folder for a service (such as Default Web Site) in the left-hand pane of the console window and selecting Properties. Unlike IIS 5, there are no Master Properties that you can modify that control both Web and FTP settings. You must configure each site separately. IIS stores all of its configuration information for its Web site(s), FTP site(s), and so forth in its metabase. If the IIS metabase gets damaged or deleted, an administrator must reconfigure all of the IIS sites and services. To avoid such a catastrophe, be sure to back up the metabase on a regular basis by right-clicking the computer name root container and selecting All Tasks|Backup/Restore Configuration. The backup gets stored as a file with the .md0 extension, and the default backup location is %systemroot%\system32\inetsrv\metaback. You should copy the metabase backups to removable media or to another computer over the network to preserve the backups in case of a hard drive failure on the IIS computer.

Administering the Default Web Site

At any time, an administrator can modify the settings for the default Web site by right-clicking the site name and selecting Properties from the Internet Information Services (IIS) MMC snap-in. The Default Web Site Properties window, shown in Figure 3.18, enables you to work with settings for the home directory, directory security, HTTP, ISAPI filters, and other configurations. You can change the settings for a virtual directory by right-clicking the directory name and selecting Properties. The Properties dialog box for a virtual directory, shown in Figure 3.19, enables you to configure settings for the virtual directory, for its Web documents, for directory security, for HTTP headers, and for working with custom error messages. You can create a new virtual directory for the default Web site by right-clicking <Default Web Site> from the IIS MMC snap-in and selecting New|Virtual Directory. When the Virtual Directory Creation Wizard launches, you assign a name to the new virtual directory. You must also designate the path for the physical folder where the Web files are stored for the new virtual directory. After you have entered this information, you can complete the wizard, thereby setting up a new virtual directory that users can access via the http://computer_name/virtual_directory_name Uniform Resource Locator (URL), also known simply as a Web address.

Figure 3.18 The Home Directory tab for the IIS Default Web Site Properties dialog box.

Figure 3.19 The Properties dialog box for a virtual directory under IIS.

Administering the Default FTP Site

An administrator can modify the settings for the default FTP site by right-clicking the site name and selecting Properties. You can change the settings for a virtual directory by right-clicking the directory name and selecting Properties. You can create a new virtual directory for the default FTP site by right-clicking <Default FTP Site> and selecting New|Virtual Directory. When the Virtual Directory Creation Wizard launches, you assign a name to the new virtual directory. You must also designate the path for the physical folder where the FTP files will be stored for the new virtual directory. After you have entered this information, you can complete the wizard, thereby setting up a new virtual directory that users can access via the FTP address ftp://computer_name/virtual_directory_name.

Web Folders and the WebDAV Protocol

You can share folders with other computers by making them available as Web Folders instead of, or in addition to, sharing them as network shared folders. To share a folder on a Windows XP Professional system as a Web Folder, right-click the folder, select Properties, and click the Web Sharing tab. Click the Add button to assign an Alias name for the Web Folder, specify the permissions for the Web Folder, and click OK to create the Web Folder on the default Web site. The WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) protocol acts as a redirector that enables users to open and save documents via Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP) port 80. As long as the Web server host computer is running IIS 5 or above, and as long as an application program supports saving and retrieving documents via HTTP, you can take advantage of WebDAV. To use WebDAV, simply type in the URL path plus the document name in the Open or Save As dialog box for an application.

Users can encrypt files stored in Web Folders without fear of compromising the data whenever the files are transmitted across the network wire. Encrypted files are always encrypted and decrypted on the local computer before being sent over the network. Encrypted files are transferred in cybertext over the network—even if encrypted files get intercepted as they are sent over a network connection, the encrypted files cannot be interpreted.

Troubleshooting Internet Information Services

If users are experiencing problems connecting to the default Web site, to the default FTP site, or to a new virtual directory that you have created, you can follow the steps listed in the next few sections to attempt to rectify the problem(s).

Internet Web Site

To isolate problems that may be preventing users from connecting to the Internet Web site:

  • Check that the Web server contains HTML files in the drive_letter:\inetpub\wwwroot folder.

  • Attempt to connect to the Web server's home directory using a browser on a computer that has a live connection to the Internet. Your Web site must have a public IP address that is registered with the InterNIC, and that public IP address must be registered with the Internet's DNS servers. For example, if your registered domain name is QuePublishing.com and you want to view a virtual directory on that Web site named "aboutus", you would type "http://www.QuePublishing.com/aboutus" in the Address line of your Web browser. The Web page that you requested should appear within your Web browser's window.

Intranet Web Site

To isolate problems that may be preventing users from connecting to an intranet Web site:

  • Check that the Web server and the client computers have active network connections.

  • Verify that a Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) and/or DNS server is available and functioning on your network for computer name to IP address name resolution.

  • Go to a client computer, launch a Web browser, and type in a valid URL for the Web server computer. Intranet URLs can take the format of http://computer_name/home_page_name.htm or http://computer_name/virtual_directory_alias_name. Examples of this syntax are http://computer1/myhomepage.htm and http://computer1/myvirtualdirectory.

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