What is Internet Information Services (IIS)?
When browsing websites or your favorite apps, the pages you see on your screen are rendered from a web server. A web server hosts files and assets (think video, graphics, text, and code, specifically HTML) and renders them in your browser as a web page or on your device as an application. Web servers typically run on either Windows or Linux operating systems and are hosted in a data center. However, this article focuses on Internet Information Services (IIS), a web server specific to Windows that runs on the desktop or is hosted on a Windows Server.
What is IIS and What Does it Do?
Released on May 20, 1995, by Microsoft Corporation, Internet Information Services (IIS) is a web server that hosts web pages, typically rendered in HTML, ASP, or PHP, and is specific to Windows OS or Windows Server. If you’re running Windows 10 or 11 on your device, you may already have IIS available, just like running Windows Server on a dedicated or virtual machine. But to use IIS, you’ll need to install it, then configure it for your specific needs.
To date, IIS 10 is the current version. Previous versions, like IIS 7, 8, and 8.5, are available for download and offer various features. IIS version 6 and earlier may not be the best option since its features are outdated and limited compared to today’s security and performance requirements for hosting and scaling websites and applications. It is recommended to run the latest version if you want better security and performance.
Also available for download is IIS 10 Express, a self-contained version of IIS 10 specifically designed for developers. IIS 10 Express contains all the components for running IIS as a standalone package. If you want to test your websites and applications quickly, IIS 10 Express is a good option since installing and setting up are easier. Essentially, IIS 10 Express is a lightweight version of the full version of IIS and contains everything you need to test websites and applications in a real-world environment without having to set up and configure an IIS environment.
How to Install IIS on your Server
To use IIS, you’ll need to install it, then configure it based on what you want to accomplish with the web server. How you install IIS depends on the Windows OS or Windows Server version. If you host websites and applications, you should enable IIS on one of the latest Windows Server versions. For example, you can set up your device to run IIS for development and testing on Windows 10 or 11 before publishing on your Windows Server.
This article focuses on IIS 10.
Install IIS 10 on Windows 10
To install IIS 10 on Windows 10, follow the steps below.
1. Type Control Panel in your Windows search bar (at the bottom of your screen), then click the Control Panel app to open.
2. Click Programs and Features.
3. Click Turn Windows features on or off.
4. Click the plus sign (+) next to Internet Information Services to expand Internet Information Services components.
5. Click the checkbox next to each component you want to install.
6. Click OK. This action enables IIS 10 and the components you selected.
7. After installation is complete, open IIS Manager by searching in the Windows search bar.
Install IIS 10 on Windows 11
To install IIS 10 on Windows 11, follow these steps.
1. Click your Windows search bar (at the bottom of your screen), then type features in the search.
2. Click Turn Windows features on or off, then click Open.
3. Click the plus sign (+) next to Internet Information Services to expand Internet Information Services components.
4. Click the checkbox next to each component you want to install.
5. Click OK. This action enables IIS 10 and the components you selected.
6. After installation is complete, open IIS Manager by searching in the Windows search bar.
Install IIS 10 on Windows Server 2019 and 2022
The best method to install IIS 10 on Windows Server versions 2019 and 2022 is the Server Manager, which allows you to install or uninstall server roles, role services, and features. It also allows you to install IIS and required IIS components on Windows Server versions 2019 and 2022.
1. Open Server Manager, then click Manage/Add Roles and Features in the Server Manager Dashboard.
2. Click Installation Type.
3. Select Role-based or feature-based installation, then click Next.
4. Select the server on which you want to install IIS and click Next. Note it selects the local server by default.
5. Activate the Web Server (IIS) role.
6. Click Add Features to add the IIS Management Console, then click Next.
7. When the Select Features window opens, click Next.
8. When the Web Server Role (IIS) window opens, click Next.
9. When the Role Services window opens, select the required role services, then click Next.
10. Click Install to install the selected roles, role services, and features.
11. Once the installation is complete, click Close.
You can also use PowerShell to install IIS 10 on Windows Server 2019 and 2022 by following these steps:
1. Type PowerShell in your Windows Server search bar, then click Windows PowerShell.
2. Type the following command in Windows PowerShell, then press Enter.
Install-WindowsFeature -name Web-Server -IncludeManagementTools
The Benefits of using IIS
To host websites, applications, and services in a Windows environment, you need to install IIS and enable specific IIS components. Since IIS is specifically designed to run in a Windows environment, the performance, reliability, security, and scalability are significantly greater than running other web servers in Windows. This is especially true if your websites and applications are built using ASP or ASP.NET, as those languages are integrated into Windows already.
Below is a list of additional benefits you can experience when using IIS:
- Deploy ASP.NET and PHP applications on the same server.
- Enhanced server protection (Security).
- Scalable with HTTP-based load balancing and intelligent request routing.
- Improved performance with dynamic caching and compression.
- Add new features with official Microsoft IIS extensions.
- Deploy and manage websites and applications across large farms of web servers.
How to Configure IIS for Your Website
To configure IIS you can use IIS Manager, a graphical user interface for configuring and managing websites and applications. IIS also allows configuring settings using the command line or PowerShell. You can also configure the applicationhost.config file since this file contains all the settings for the server, sites, and applications hosted on the server. Or you can also use the web.config file to configure authentication, security, and custom error pages for individual websites and applications. Settings and features available depend on the IIS version you are running and the components you enable during installation.
Microsoft offers several configuration methods depending on how you want to use IIS. Below are examples using IIS Version 7.0 and higher.
- Build a static website.
- Build a classic ASP website.
- Build an ASP.NET website.
- Build a PHP website.
- Build an FTP site.
- Build a Web Farm with IIS Servers.
Tips for Troubleshooting IIS Errors
When troubleshooting IIS, you need to restart the web server since it can sometimes resolve errors caused by corruption or other issues. If that doesn’t work, Microsoft recommends you review error logs, including Windows Event log and IIS log files. For example, IIS provides its own logging in a text file for installation issues. If you run IIS Version 7.0, the log file is called iis7.log (iis6.log for the previous version). In addition, you can find and customize the location of your log files using IIS Manager.
Other tips for troubleshooting IIS include checking the web.config file for types, syntax errors, or configuration issues. Another recommendation is to check the application pool associated with the website or application to ensure the appropriate identity is assigned. Advanced troubleshooting includes Failed Request Tracing, which requires you to configure trace rules to capture the information you need by configuring the appropriate settings in IIS Manager.
If you want a powerful web server that can run a single website, multiple websites, and applications, even an FTP site, or host the type of HTML, ASP, ASP.NET, or PHP application you want to serve to end users, IIS is a great choice. With multiple configuration options, IIS can provide the scalability and performance your organization needs regarding web servers.
Already available in Windows Server and most Windows OS versions, set up IIS today and start configuring it to suit your needs. Liquid Web offers Windows hosting options for those developing websites and applications on Windows environments. Contact our sales team today to configure your Windows infrastructure.
About the Author: Ronald Caldwell
Ron is a Technical Writer at Liquid Web working with the Marketing team. He has 9+ years of experience in Technology. He obtained an Associate of Science in Computer Science from Prairie State College in 2015. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart and lives in Michigan with her and their children.
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