Enhancing Log Parser Reports with Charts

 IIS, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012  Comments Off on Enhancing Log Parser Reports with Charts
Oct 072013
 

When you need quick analysis of your traffic logs you won’t find an better tool than Microsoft’s free Log Parser. With Log Parser you can read a variety of log files including the Registry and Windows event logs. It’s ease of use comes from using SQL queries against your log file. You can get your data even faster by using multiple log parser queries in a batch file.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\nThe other day I was helping someone who needed some “top 10” data from their site’s log. Since I had these in my trusty batch file I could provide the text reports within seconds. However, I like to offer a little more pizzazz when possible so this time I decided use Log Parser’s native charting capability to output the results with some nice charts.  As the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words.\r\n\r\nHere’s the query I used to create the chart above:\r\n

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Installing Office Web Components

\r\nCharting is a native feature of Log Parser however there is a dependency for Office 2003 Add-in: Office Web Components. Depending on where you are running Log Parser the first time you try to output your query to a chart you may see this error message:\r\n\r\nError creating output format “CHART”: This output format requires a licensed Microsoft Office Chart Web Component to be installed on the local machine\r\n\r\n

If you didn’t see the error above then you’re all set but if you saw the error then it will be necessary to install the Office Web Components before you can start outputting charts. Once you’ve downloaded the file just accept the License Agreement and click Install.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\nThe installation runs quickly. Click OK to close the window.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n\r\n \r\n

Example Log Parser Reports with Charts

\r\nNow you’re ready to start creating some colorful charts. The most useful parameters in my opinion are –chartType, –chartTitle, –categories, –values, and –legend. There are some 20+ chart types that you can choose from including:  Pie, PieExploded, PieExlpoded3D, LineStacked, Line3D, BarClustered, ColumnClustered, Smooothline. The default chart type is Line.  To see all the possible chart options run this simple command:\r\n\r\nLogParser -h -o:CHART\r\n\r\nTo take your charts to the highest level of customization you can use an external configuration script with Jscript or VBscript . Take a look at the MSDN ChartSpace Object Model documentation for more information.\r\n\r\nHere are a few different charts with various options.\r\n\r\nimage\r\n

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In Summary

\r\nMicrosoft’s Log Parser is a powerful tool for log file analysis. You can use it to analyze text files, csv files, Window’s event logs and even the Windows Registry.  You can make boring reports come alive with colorful charts.  There is a dependency on Office Web Components for charting to work but that is easily solved. Thanks for reading.

Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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Jul 222013
 

Redirecting visitors on your site from one page to another is handled by using either a 301 redirect or a 302 redirect. The numbers 301 and 302 refer to the http status code that is returned by the web server to your browser. They may seem similar but they are quite different. A 302 indicates a temporary change and a 301 indicates a permanent change. This difference is important to understand and will impact how search engines see content changes on your site. There are a number of ways to implement a 301 redirect on your web site. Some are easier than others to configure and will depend on the version of IIS you are using. Here’s the story of how I recently had to use the global.asax and Application_BeginRequest to do a 301 redirect.

Unforeseen consequences of revoking a certificate

The other day I was helping someone who had revoked their site’s SSL certificate. They were no longer going to use SSL on their site so they figured revoking the certificate was a logical decision. Unfortunately what they had not realized was that the https:// url of their site had been indexed by most search engines and they were getting a lot organic traffic to their site using that url. By revoking the certificate many of their visitors were now seeing dire warnings in their browsers like the picture below instead of going to their site. This was not good.

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Not being a technical person they figured that just removing the certificate from the site bindings would solve their problem. This was not a good idea. On the one hand it solved the problem with the browser security warnings being displayed but in fact it just caused a different problem. People were still accessing the https:// url of their site so instead of a security warning now they were just seeing an error. Using Fiddler you can see that a 502 error is generated when you try to access a site using https without having a binding for it.

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The need for a redirect

We needed to take visitors accessing the https url of the site and send them to the http url of the site. This is the perfect application of using either a 301 or 302 redirect. However, here’s where things got a little more complicated. Ordinarily I would just use Url Rewrite or even a Url Rewrite Map to handle the 301 redirects. Unfortunately their site was hosted on IIS 6 so we couldn’t use Url Rewrite. Furthermore we only needed to redirect incoming requests using SSL. The site content was fine so page level redirects such as a meta tag refresh weren’t going to help in this case either.

Since the site was using .Net 2.0 I decided to use the Application_BeginRequest event in the global.asax. This is the first event in the HTTP pipeline change of execution when asp.net responds to a request. Using this event I created a conditional statement to test the HTTPS server variable to see if the request was being made using SSL or not. If the request was made with SSL then we would redirect it to the http url of the site as shown below. Bear in mind however that Response.Redirect’s default status is 302 –a temporary redirect. In my situation I needed a 301 permanent redirect so that search engines would drop the https url from their index. So I had to add the extra line of Response.StatusCode=301.

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At this point I was pretty satisfied I had solved my friend’s problem. I had setup a test site with an SSL certificate and the redirect worked great. Unfortunately when I set it up on the live site (with the revoked certificate) nothing happened Sad smile.  It turned out that because the site’s certificate had been revoked, browsers weren’t actually loading the site which in turn meant the redirect wasn’t happening. There was only one way to solve this last piece of the puzzle and that meant putting in a valid SSL certificate again. So I created a Certificate Signing Request for my friend’s site and within minutes they had a new $9 RapidSSL certificate from Namecheap.com. Once a new certificate was bound to the site the https page requests started working again and then our custom 301 redirect in the global.asax was able to do it’s job.

 

Testing a 301 Redirect

Because I needed the redirect to be permanent I wanted to be sure it was really returning a 301 status. Checking the web site’s www logs would have confirmed this but that’s a bit cumbersome especially when a tool like Fiddler makes it so easy to check. Fiddler is a free web debugging tool. As one can see in the pictures below the redirect was in fact returning a 301 status code.

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Here you can see the raw header and body of the request.

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If you need to remove a url from a search engine’s index you can contact them directly:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/164734?hl=en

http://www.bing.com/webmaster/help/how-can-i-remove-a-url-or-page-from-the-bing-index-37c07477

Please note that is is not a fast process and using a 301 permanent redirect is the best solution.

Summary

Sending traffic to a different location on your site can be accomplished using either a 301 permanent redirect or a 302 temporary redirect and this will ensure your search engine ranking isn’t impacted. There are many techniques to implement a redirect such as using Url Rewrite, meta tags, or even Response.Redirect. If you’re going to revoke an SSL certificate or remove one from your site, first be absolutely sure that there isn’t traffic using the certificate. Thanks for reading.

Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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Installing IIS 8 on Windows 2012 Server Core

 IIS, Windows Server 2012  Comments Off on Installing IIS 8 on Windows 2012 Server Core
Jun 302013
 

Server Core for Windows Server 2012 offers a low-maintenance, limited functionality operating system. The primary benefits of Server Core are Reduced Servicing, Reduced Management, and Reduced attack surface. Management of Server Core is performed locally or remotely using Windows PowerShell, a terminal server connection from a command line or by using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC). There are many server roles available for Server Core instances such as Active Directory, DHCP Server, DNS Server, File Services, BITS Server, HyperV, Printing Services, and IIS, just to name a few. Here is a list of more Server Core roles that are available. This walkthrough will focus on installing IIS 8.

Install Windows 2012 Server Core

As you might have guessed the first step will be to install Windows 2012 Server Core. Launch your install media and select Server Core Installation and click next. If you’ve ever installed any other Windows operating system the menus at this point will look pretty familiar.

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The installation goes quickly. You will receive status updates as it progresses.

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Change the Administrator Password

Once the installation has completed you’ll need to change the administrator password. Just follow the prompts to complete this step.

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Installing IIS 8

Once the base installation of Server Core has completed you’re ready to install IIS. Open Powershell and enter the following cmdlet:

install-windowsfeature web-server

Once the process completes you should see a Success result similar to the picture below.

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Install IIS Remote Management Service

Since this is Windows Server Core we’re not going to see the IIS Manger GUI as with the other versions of Windows. So to maintain IIS we’ll need to configure the Remote Management Service. This can be installed by entering the following cmdlet:

Install-windowsFeature Web-Mgmt-Service

You’ll again see a Success result if everything worked properly as shown below.

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You can use the following commands to start or stop the management service:

Net Stop WMSVC

Net Start WMSVC

 

Enable Remote Management (Web Management)

Next we’ll install Remote Web Management by entering the following cmdlet:

Set-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WebManagement\Server -Name EnableRemoteManagement -Value 1

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Create Firewall Rule for Web Management Service

Before we can remotely connect with the IIS Manger we need to create a rule for the local Windows Firewall. The following command will create the rule we need:

netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name=”Allow Web Management” dir=in action=allow service=”WMSVC”

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Connect to IIS 8 on Server Core using IIS Manager

Now we’re ready to connect to IIS 8 on our Windows 2012 Server Core. Installing IIS Manger for Remote Administration on your PC is very straight forward. Once you have IIS Manager installed just right-click under Connections and select Connect to a Server.

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Next just enter the server address.

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Enter your administrator username and password.

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You’ll be prompted to accept the server’s certificate for security.

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Having properly authenticated on the server we can now see our default site and configure additional sites as well as maintain all of the usual IIS features and settings.

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Summary

If you’re in the market for Windows Cloud Server hosting and aren’t really technically inclined then Windows 2012 Server Core may not be the right fit for you. However Windows 2012 Server Core offers a variety of server roles and has clear security benefits. Running IIS 8 on Server Core is very manageable thanks to the IIS Remote Administration Service. I will cover adding FTP in a future blog post. Thanks for reading.

Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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May 042013
 

FTP User Isolation is a great way to lock down your FTP site and prevent users from accessing resources they are not supposed to. Regardless if your server is providing shared hosting or dedicated hosting, FTP User Isolation can be leveraged for greater FTP security. It is particularly beneficial in hosting environments when you have a limited number of IP addresses to utilize but have several users requiring FTP access. In this case you’ll want to create 1 master FTP site and configure user virtual directories. Alternatively if your web server has several IP addresses available then one will typically deploy FTP Publishing on each site being hosted using a dedicated IP address. FTP user isolation in this case is not as critical but can still be implemented if you need multiple users accessing different folders on the same site.

In This Walk-through

In this walk-through I’ll be configuring 1 master FTP that will be used to isolate FTP users for 3 different web site’s I’ve created. To see how to setup an FTP site please check my recent blog post on setting up an FTP site with SSL. Our FTP site will use c:\inetput\ftproot as the root directory. Double check the FTP Authentication section has Anonymous Authentication disabled and Basic Authentication enabled.

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Create User Group for FTP Users

Our server has 3 user accounts we want to use for FTP access: ftpuser1, ftpuser2, ftpuser3. In the Computer Management console under Local Users and Groups create a new group called FTPUsers.

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Add the 3 FTP users to the group and then go to the root folder of the FTP site c:\inetpub\ftproot and add FTPUsers group to the folder permissions.

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Check the FTP Authorization Rules

Go back to the Features View of the FTP site in the IIS Manager and click on FTP Authorization. In the FTP Authorization settings select Specified roles or user groups enter the FTPUsers group we just created.  By storing the users in 1 group it will make it easier to maintain in the future if we have to add more FTP users. We want the users to have Read and Write permissions.

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Configure LocalUser Virtual Directory

Now on the the FTP site we need to create a virtual directory called LocalUser. This is a special directory which is required to make the user isolation work properly. Right click on the master FTP site and then click Add Virtual Directory.

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Enter the name LocalUser and specify the root folder of the FTP site c:\inetpub\ftproot.

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Create FTP User Virtual Directories

Under the LocalUser virtual directory create an additional virtual directory for each FTP user. Enter the name of the FTP user and set the physical path to the web site they will be accessing. In this example ftpuser1 will be access c:\domains\domain1.com. Ftpuser2 will access c:\domains2.com and Ftpuser3 will access c:\domains3.com.

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Since we have 3 FTP users we’ll have a virtual directory for each user under LocalUser.

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Configure FTP User Isolation

On the Features View of the FTP Site and click on FTP User Isolation. Under the section Isolate Users select User name directory (disable global virtual directories). As a reminder If you are deploying FTP Publishing at the site level with only 1 user accessing the site content then user isolation is not necessary and selecting the first option FTP root directory will be sufficient. The FTP user will be dropped into the root of the site.

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Testing FTP Client

Now our FTP site is ready for testing. With my FTP client I connect to the site using ftpuser1 and I am correctly logged into domain1.com root folder.

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You can test if the isolation is working properly by trying to change the directory to the parent level or another ftp user’s folder. If you remember back to FTP and IIS 6  this would have been possible or at least you you would have been able to get into the root folder of the FTP site and potentially seen other FTP users’ folders. In the example below I login as ftpuser2 and then try to change to the directory of ftpuser1 however thanks to FTP Isolation we get an error message that the path does not exist. Each user is now completely isolated from the others.

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In Summary

Starting with IIS 7, Microsoft completely redesigned the FTP service offering the highest level of security. FTP User Isolation will completely shield web site content from other FTP users. It is particularly beneficial when you have an FTP site that needs to allow access to multiple users to different folder paths. Thanks for reading.

Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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Configuring IIS 8 Remote Administration

 IIS, Windows Server 2012  Comments Off on Configuring IIS 8 Remote Administration
Mar 132013
 

Remote Management for IIS 8 on Windows Server 2012 is a great way to connect to your site and accessing IIS features without logging in to the server.  It is straight forward to configure but requires a few steps to get working properly. An alternative scenario would be if you are using a 3rd party for Windows shared hosting and you do not have administrative access to the server. You could then use IIS Manager for Remote Administration on your PC to connect to the site and maintain it.

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Installing the Management Service on the Server

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With Windows Server 2012 and IIS 8 there are 2 ways that you can have this service installed. The first way is using the Server Manager and launching the Add Roles and Features Wizard.

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Once the Add Roles and Features Wizard opens scroll down to the Web Server (IIS) role and expand the management tools section. Click the checkbox next to Management Service and then click Next to complete the wizard.

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Once installation completes you will see that it has been added to the IIS Roles and Features in Server Manager.

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Alternatively you can install the Management Service using the Web Platform Installer. Open IIS Manager on the server and click Get New Web Platform Components.

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The Web Platform Installer will open up. You can filter on products named IIS and then sort the name column. In the list you’ll see the IIS Management Service. Click Add then then complete the wizard. It will take just a few moments to complete. The wizard will display a confirmation page upon completion. You can also double check that it has been installed successfully in the IIS Roles and Features in Server Manager as shown above..

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Configure IIS for Remote Administration

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After the remote management service has been installed on the server you need to enable it and then assign user permissions before users can connect remotely. In IIS Manager at the server level scroll down to the Management groupHere you can add IIS Manager Users, check permissions for existing users, control Feature Delegation, and maintain the Management Service settings. Click on Management Service to configure remote administration and enable the service.

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Click Enable remote connections and then select whether or not you want to allow users to access the server using Windows credentials only or allow users with Windows credentials and IIS Manager credentials. Assign the IP address you want the service to be on and the default port 8172. If you have your own certificate you can assign that otherwise there is a default certificate available to be used. For additional security you can implement IP address restrictions. After saving your changes be sure to click Start. If you decide to change any settings later you’ll need to stop the service first before you can make any changes.

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Allow Users to Access the Site Remotely

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User permissions are assigned at the site level. Go to the site you want to allow remote access to and click IIS Manager Permissions.

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Click Allow User.

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To add a Windows user click Select and then enter their name and then click Ok.

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Remote administration has now been enabled and configured on the server. You have enabled a user to remotely connect to IIS. At this point the server configuration is complete. The only thing remaining is to install IIS Manager for Remote Administration on your PC.

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Configure Client Settings

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On your PC use the Web Platform Installer to install IIS Manager for Remote Administration.

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http://www.iis.net/downloads/microsoft/iis-manager

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Once IIS Manager is installed on your PC then you can try connecting to the site. Simply right-click on the globe icon under Connections and then select Connect to a Site.

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Enter the server address where your site is hosted and the site name.

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Enter the username and password for authentication.

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Click Finish and then you’ll see your site in IIS Manager.

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If you look at the bottom right of the window you’ll see that you’ve connected securely to the remote site.

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Summary

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This walkthrough has covered how to install and configure Remote Administration on IIS 8 as well as using the Web Platform Installer to install the IIS Manager for Remote Administration on your PC.  Check with your Windows shared hosting provider if you have any difficulty connecting to your site. Depending your hosting providers delegation settings certain IIS features may not be enabled for remote administration. Thanks for reading.

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Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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Configuring FTP Over SSL with IIS 8

 IIS, Windows Server 2012  Comments Off on Configuring FTP Over SSL with IIS 8
Feb 092013
 

In 2011 the FTP protocol had it’s 40 birthday. Despite it’s age it is still a widely used file transfer technology however it wasn’t originally designed for encryption. It has been shown to be vulnerable to brute force attacks, packet capture, and spoof attacks as well as a few other attack vectors. Now with IIS 8 on Windows Server 2012 encrypting an FTP session has never been easier. Using the IIS Manager with just a few clicks you can enable FTPS also known as FTP Over SSL on your site and take advantage of encrypted communication. In this walkthrough I am going to configure FTPS on IIS 8 using my personal SSL certificate which I obtained from a 3rd party SSL vendor. I am not going to cover how to install an SSL certificate. To get started launch IIS Manager from the Start Screen.

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Once IIS Manger is open we first need to add FTP Publishing to our site. This is straight forward and can be completed in mere moments. To do this right click on your site and select Add FTP Publishing. The Add FTP Site Publishing wizard will launch taking us through the few remaining steps.

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There are a few options which need to be configured. Select the IP address you want to use for the site. Under the SSL setting, select if you want to allow connections without SSL or force every connection to use it. For the highest level of security you’ll want to select Require SSL. Next pick the SSL certificate that you want to use for the encryption. Click Next to continue.

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Now we’re going to configure the Authentication and Authorization settings. Check Basic Authentication and leave Anonymous Authentication unchecked. Under Authorization you can specify local users and groups that are allowed to access the site. On my test server I have a user called “ftpuser2” and we want Read and Write permissions enabled. Click Finish and then the window will close. FTP Publishing has been added to the site. Next we’ll need to configure the FTP client before we can connect.

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Configuring your FTP client for FTP over SSL is just a matter of changing the protocol type in your client settings.  First I’ll do a test without making any client changes. In the previous step I choose to force all connections to use FTPS so we should get an error of some kind. Sure enough as seen in the FTP log below, the server forcibly closes the connection when it detects that we’re not using FTPS.

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For my FTP client I’m using an old version Cute FTP Pro so depending on which FTP client you are using your menus may look different. Below I am selecting FTP with SSL Explicit.

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Now when I try to reconnect to the server I’m prompted to accept the SSL certificate before I can continue. If I do not accept the certificate then the connection will be closed.

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After clicking Accept we are logged into the FTP site and are files are displayed as expected. Looking at the FTP log we see the SSL session is being established and the session is encrypted.

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In summary, FTP is a great file transfer technology but is unencrypted in native form. Configuring FTP over SSL with IIS 8 on Windows Server 2012 is an easy and straight forward way encrypt your FTP sessions and increase your security. Thanks for reading.

Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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Jan 302013
 

Configuring and using FTP with IIS 8 on Windows Server 2012 is very easy and straight forward. If you ever used FTP 7 that was released with Windows 2008 then the GUI will be familiar to you. An FTP virtual directory is quite handy when you need to provide an FTP user access to files which are not in their FTP root folder. If you’ve ever created one, then you know the FTP user is usually not able to physically “see” the virtual directory when they login. To get to the new folder they have to manually change the path using their FTP client. I will show you a simple trick so the virtual directory will be visible to the FTP user.

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Open the IIS 8 Manger. Depending on your needs one can have FTP configured in a few different ways. Your server may have FTP publishing configured on each site for example. My test server only has 1 IP address available so I’ve configured a “master” FTP site and have FTP user access configured accordingly for each site that is being hosted. In this example I have “ftpuser2” logging into a folder called c:\domains\domain2.com. As one would expect this is the folder where the user can maintain all their web site files.

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Probably one of the most common requests with web hosting is having access to the web site traffic logs. These logs are typically stored outside of the FTP path somewhere else on the web server.  On my test server they’re stored in the folder C:\wwwlogs and the logs for domain2.com are located in the folder W3SVC3. Ordinarily on a locked down web server no FTP user would ever be able to access this location.

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So let’s walk through how to provide “ftpuser2” FTP access to his site’s traffic logs. In the IIS Manger right-click on the FTP user in question and then right-click again on Add Virtual Directory.

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This will open the Add Virtual Directory window. Enter the Alias you want to use and browse the physical path to which you want to provide FTP access.

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One additional step is to add the FTP user to the folder permissions. That is straight forward so I’m not going to walk through that. So now ftpuser2 has the necessary permissions to read the log files in the W3SVC3 folder and access them using their FTP client. So what happens when we log in via FTP? Well nothing.

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Why don’t we see our new virtual directory with the traffic logs? We can see them if we manually change the path in the FTP client to /wwwlogs. But having to manually change paths is a bit of a pain. And trying to explain that to someone who may not be technical is even more complicated. So what’s the solution?

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The solution is to create an empty folder in the root of the FTP user’s FTP path that matches the alias of our FTP virtual directory. With this dummy folder in place, when the FTP user logs in and clicks it they will automatically be redirected into the path of the virtual directory and see all the files. What’s really cool about this technique is that works with legacy versions of IIS as well as IIS 7 and IIS 8.

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So now we’ve created a far more intuitive experience for the FTP user to access files and folders outside of their FTP root anywhere on the server –provided they have permissions to access the folder of course. I hope you’ve enjoyed this walkthrough. Thanks for reading.

Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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Dec 142012
 

Using system.net.mail to send email messages from your web site makes life so easy.  In the old days of Classic ASP you often had to rely on 3rd party components such as AspMail from serverobjects.com or AspEmail from persists.com. While they were very capable products and are still widely used today it added an additional layer of complexity to your programming. If you ever had to move a site from one server to another there was always a risk the components were not in place which would cause problems for your users.  \r\n\r\nWith system.net.mail you know as long as .Net is installed on the server hosting your site, your code will always work no matter how many times you move your web site or change hosting providers. In it’s simplest form the snippet below is the bare minimum of code you need to send a plain text message from your asp.net application. \r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nThis works great when you are sending mail using the local SMTP server. However in certain situations you may need to send mail through a remote SMTP server. In most cases that remote server will have quite a bit of security enabled to prevent relaying and blocking spammers so the above code will not be enough for your application to send mail.\r\n\r\nIn this case you will need to send your message by authenticating on the remote server with a username and password. So how does one go about doing that with system.net.mail? Well here’s a bit a code that shows you how to do just that. \r\n\r\n

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For additional examples check out the wonderful resource at http://www.systemnetmail.com. I hope this helps. Thanks for reading.
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Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

More Posts - Website

Dec 092012
 

The other day I was helping someone who was trying to configure a wildcard certificate on their Windows Cloud Server. Their server was running Windows 2008 R2 server using IIS 7. The were technically savvy and knew how to configure site’s on their own and install a regular SSL certificate but they were stuck trying to get a wildcard certificate configured properly.

They had quite a few site’s configured using subdomains such as support.domain.com, mail.domain.com, login.domain.com, etc. To tighten security they decided to use SSL to protect all these sites so they bought a wildcard certificate for *.domain.com. They installed the new certificate on the 1st site correctly but when they tried doing it on the 2nd site they couldn’t. IIS wouldn’t let them assign the certificate on the other sites using a shared IP address. Does this sound familiar? Here’s how you can solve it and it’s easier than you think.

Here are 4 site’s configured in IIS using host header xxx.domain.com with the same IP address.

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After installing our wildcard SSL certificate we assign the binding on the first site.

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Testing the site we see that the wildcard SSL certificate is working great.

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Now we go to site #2 and try to assign our certificate. However we’re not able to enter a host name for site #2.

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If we click OK and try to proceed we get a warning about the dire consequences of our actions. As soon as we try to access site #2 using SSL, IIS will actually stop site #1 which cause all kinds of issues for our users.

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Now that we’ve seen the problem let’s the get to the solution. According to my friend, former coworker, and IIS MVP Scott Forsyth, it turns out that this is not a bug and the IIS team designed it to work this way. There are 2 ways to solve this particular issue when using a wildcard SSL certificate. One way is to simply execute the following app command for each binding that you need.

appcmd set site /site.name:”” /+bindings.
[protocol=’https’,bindingInformation=’:443:‘]

This certainly works however I tend to have hard time remembering the syntax which leads us to the 2nd method which is in my opinion is far easier and has to do with how the wildcard SSL certificate was originally installed.

Remember back when you had just received the completed wildcard certificate from your SSL vendor? Like most IT people you were probably in a hurry when you installed it. Do you remember what you entered when you were prompted for a Friendly name before saving it? Chances are you just entered “domain.com” however what you should have specified is “*.domain.com”. Doh!

You can check this easily by looking at the certificate store in IIS Manager. If the Name column doesn’t show the * then you need to change it before it SSL binding on multiple sites will work properly.

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So how does one change the Friendly name this after the certificate has already been installed? Open the MMC Snap-In for Certificates. Right-click on the certificate and change the Friendly name to *.domain.com. Save the changes and close out the MMC.

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Now that the Friendly name has been changed to *.domain.com go back to IIS and try to add the SSL binding for site number #2 and now it works. Woohoo. Smile

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Now you can add your wildcard certificate to as many subdomain host header sites as needed using only 1 IP and you don’t have to remember any programming syntax. I hope this helps and thanks for reading.

Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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Nov 302012
 

In case you haven’t heard Windows 8 is now available. As a web developer I think one of the best reasons to upgrade to Windows 8 is that you can start testing IIS 8 right from your PC. This way if you don’t have a budget for a new server you can start to familiarize yourself with some of the new features.

IIS 8 has some great new features such as Dynamic IP Restrictions an Application Initialization. However one of the best new features of IIS 8 enables you to throttle the CPU utilization for any application pool. If you’ve ever hosted a server with multiple sites you’ve probably experienced a situation where one site impacts the performance of the entire server. With this new feature now that will never become an issue.

IIS 8 is not installed by default on Windows 8. To install IIS 8 you just need to add it using the Control Panel. To get to the Control Panel just right-click on the background and you’ll see the All Apps icon come on screen at the bottom right. Click this and then click the Control Panel.

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You can also get to the Control Panel from the Desktop. Just click Settings and then click on the Control Panel.

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The Control Panel hasn’t changed much with Windows 8. It looks pretty much like it did in Windows 7. Once you’re at the Control Panel just click on Programs menu item.

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Next you just need to click on Turn Windows features on or off. This will be under the Programs and Features menu item.

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From here now you just need to check the box next to Internet Information Services and then click OK. Windows will do some background processing and the complete the installation.

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After just a few short moments Windows will have completed installing IIS 8 for you. You will be notified once the installation is complete.

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Now you are ready to start using IIS 8 on Windows 8. As shown above just right-click on the background and go to All Apps. From here you’ll see the familiar icon for IIS. Click it and launch IIS.

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Here is the IIS Manager that we all know and love. Since we’re not running this on Windows Server 2012 we don’t have all the familiar icons but you can get the feel of things right from your PC.

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To look at the new CPU throttling feature I mentioned above just open the Advanced properties of application pool and scroll down to CPU. You’ll see a property for CPU Limit.

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I’ve shown you how easy it is to install IIS 8 on Windows 8. I hope this simple walk-through helps you get started on the road to discovering the many great new features of IIS 8.

Peter Viola

Creative, customer focused, results oriented, Senior Web Systems Engineer who enjoys providing the highest level of customer service supporting complex Windows hosting solutions. MCITP, MCSA, MCTS

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