Windows IIS Basics

Getting Started

When first starting with Windows server, things can be very overwhelming. This guide will help get you started with IIS. To start off IIS stands for Internet Information Services, which is a piece of software developed by Microsoft to interact with the Windows Server OS. Doing so extends features to support HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, etc.  In order to get into the IIS interface, you will need to connect to the server via RDP (remote desktop protocol). You can find this program on your windows machine by going to Start >> Accessories >> Remote Desktop Connection. On a Mac pc you will need to install an application that allows users to RDP to  a remote server.

Once open you will be taken to a login screen that looks similar to the image below:


Here you should enter the main IP address for your Windows server. After entering the IP address you will be asked for the username and password to proceed. When you get connected to the server you will see something similar to the following on your screen:


A windows server machine desktop will look exactly the same as the desktop screen you’ll see on a regular computer. The main difference is the functionality. Some users will have the Server Management screen displaying, providing them information about their server. One of the most important sections of this screen is the Server Roles.



A role is a software program that can be installed and used to manage the server, sites, or other computers. Additional roles can be installed, but because we are only dealing with hosting websites, having web services installed will be sufficient. In the left pane next to Roles you will see a plus sign, click on it to expand to the roles below. From here click on Web Server (IIS), and to the right under System Services. These running processes can be started, stopped, or restarted on the right pane of the screen.

iis3If you scroll down further you’ll come to another box called Best Practices Analyzer. This tool will scan settings and make recommendations for the server based off of the best practices.


Next we will have a look at the Event Viewer. In this area you can get an overview of how many errors, warnings, or information events have happened on the server within the last hour.


To get detailed information of the events,  click on the plus sign next to Diagnostics, then select Windows Logs. Here you will see a general summary of the different windows logs.


To get a more detailed rundown of the events, click on the name of the log under the Name column.


 In the left pane if you look down a couple lines, you will see Performance. On the right pane you will see in the second box named System Summary a brief breakdown on the overall usage of the server.


Two lines down in the left pane you’ll find Performance Monitor. By clicking on the name, your screen should adjust to show the monitoring space in the middle pane. To start monitoring you will need to add the necessary counters. Click the green plus sign along the top of the pane and you will be taken to a list of counter categories. You will need to browse through the categories to find the counter you wish to add.


By default, the Add Counters screen will be preselected to display the processors on the server. If you click on the plus sign to the right of the category, the counters for that category will display in the box below. Depending on the number of counters you can select specific ones to display in the monitoring field or highlight and add <All instances>, which will add every counter in that category. After adding counters and clicking OK. You will be taken back to the starting screen and begin seeing the activity of the counter.



Lastly, we get to services. Below the ‘Configuration‘ sub menu, you will see the Services‘ area. Click on the icon or word will display all the services on the server. Here you can start, stop, or restart any service you choose. You will also have the option to review the status the service is in and get more information by scrolling further right in the middle pane. At the bottom of the middle pane you will see two tabs. One will say ‘Extended‘ and the other will say ‘Standard‘.  By default extended view should be selected. If it is, change to standard to get rid of the extra white space next to the services. To manage a service, go ahead and right click on it to bring up a short menu of options.




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