What is IIS (Internet Information Services) and How Does it Work?

Internet Information Services ( IIS ) is a flexible, general-purpose web server from Microsoft that runs on Windows systems to serve requested HTML pages or files .
An IIS web server accepts requests from distant customer computers and returns the allow answer. This basic functionality allows web servers to share and deliver information across local area networks ( LAN ), such as corporate intranets, and wide area networks ( WAN ), such as the Internet .
A web server can deliver information to users in several forms, such as inactive webpages coded in HTML ; through file exchanges as downloads and uploads ; and text documents, picture files and more .

Web servers provide portals

Modern web servers can provide far more functionality for a clientele and its users. Web servers are frequently used as portals for sophisticate, highly interactional, web-based applications that tie enterprise middleware and back-end applications together to create enterprise-class systems. For model, Amazon Web Services allows users to administer populace cloud resources through a web-based portal site. meanwhile, streaming media services, such as Spotify for music and Netflix for movies, deliver real-time pour message through web servers.

How IIS works

IIS works through a assortment of standard languages and protocols. HTML is used to create elements such as text, buttons, persona placements, target interactions/behaviors and hyperlinks. The Hypertext Transfer Protocol ( HTTP ) is the basic communication protocol used to exchange information between vane servers and users. HTTPS — HTTP over Secure Sockets Layer ( SSL ) — uses Transport Layer Security or SSL to encrypt the communication for added datum security. The File Transfer Protocol ( FTP ), or its procure form, FTPS, can transfer files .
Additional supported protocols include the simple Mail Transfer Protocol ( SMTP ), to send and receive e-mail, and the Network News Transfer Protocol, to deliver articles on USENET .

IIS works with ASP.NET Core

The ASP.NET Core framework is the latest genesis of Active Server Page ( ASP ), a server-side script engine that produces synergistic webpages. A request comes in to the IIS waiter from the world wide web, which sends the request to the ASP.NET Core application, which processes the request and sends its reaction back to the IIS waiter and the node who originated the request. Examples of applications written on ASP.NET Core include web log platforms and contentedness management systems ( CMS ) .
Developers can produce IIS websites with a count of tools, including WebDav, which can create and publish world wide web content. Developers can besides use integrated development tools, such as Microsoft Visual Studio .

Versions of IIS

IIS has evolved along with Microsoft Windows. early versions of IIS arrived with Windows NT. IIS 1.0 appeared with Windows NT 3.51, and evolved through IIS 4.0 with Windows NT 4.0. IIS 5.0 shipped with Windows 2000. Microsoft added IIS 6.0 to Windows Server 2003. IIS 7.0 offered a major redesign with Windows Server 2008 ( IIS 7.5 is in Windows Server 2008 R2 ). IIS 8.0 came with Windows Server 2012 ( Windows Server 2012 R2 uses IIS 8.5 ). And IIS 10 arrived with Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 .
With each iteration of IIS, Microsoft has added fresh features and update existing functionality. For example, IIS 3.0 added ASP for active script ; IIS 6.0 added support for IPv6 and improved security and dependability ; and IIS 8.0 brought multicore scaling on non-uniform memory access hardware, centralized SSL certificate support and Server Name Indication .

Features in IIS 10

IIS 10 besides adds a count of new features and functionality .
IIS 10 adds support for the HTTP/2 protocol, to offer more efficient resource practice and lower reaction time compared to HTTP 1.1. IIS 10 works on the minimal server deployment model Nano Server under Windows Server 2016, and can run ASP.NET Core, Apache Tomcat and PHP workloads on IIS on the Nano Server.

IIS 10 works in a container and virtual machine, so developers and administrators have more flexibility in deployment choices, equally well as the concentration to accommodate a wide compass of web applications .

IIS Express for testing

Microsoft provides a self-contained translation of IIS, called IIS Express, for developers to test websites. IIS Express offers all the major capabilities of the full IIS web server, but allows many tasks to be performed without administrative privileges .


To ensure a web site is batten, organizations need to take security measures to protect the web server from security breaches. Companies can use features built into IIS to harden the IIS .
Some of the ways to harden Windows IIS include :

  • Ensure the Windows operating system is updated with all security patches.
  • Disable any features of IIS not in use to reduce potential attacks.
  • Use firewalls to ensure the server is only receiving valid packets.
  • Control which IP addresses and domains can access the web server.
  • Use URL authorization to apply rules for specific requests, such as dealing with particular URLs. A company can use URL authorization to only authorize certain users to view the requested pages.
  • Use logging to view the visitors accessing the web server.
  • Configure the error page to display only relevant information about an issue. Make certain that error pages don’t display too much information, such as usernames, passwords, the IP address of the server or any information that hackers could use to exploit the web server.

Steps to install and configure IIS

The follow is how to install IIS on a server running Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Windows Server 2016 and Microsoft Windows Server 2019 .
These are the steps for how to install IIS using the Server Manager :

  • Press the [Windows] key and select Server Manager.
  • In the Server Manager dashboard, click manage > add roles and features.
  • Click installation type.
  • Select the role-based or feature-based installation option and click Next.
  • Select the server on which IIS will be installed and click Next.
  • Activate the Web Server (IIS) Role.
  • Click Add Features to add the IIS Management Console.
  • Click Next: the SelectFeatures window will open.
  • Click Next: the Web Server Role (IIS) window will open.
  • Click Next: the Select Role Services window will open.
  • Select the required role services and click Next.
  • Click Install to install the selected roles, role services and features.
  • Click Close to complete the installation.

The follow are the steps for how to install IIS in the PowerShell :

  • In the search, type PowerShell, and then click Windows PowerShell
  • In Windows PowerShell, type the following command: Install-WindowsFeature -name Web Server -IncludeManagementTools
  • Press [ENTER].

The follow are steps for how to configure IIS using the Server Manager :

  • Go back to the Server Manager and select Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager from the Tools menu.
  • Click Add Website
  • Specify at least the site name and path. Click OK.
  • The first site is ready to be accessed.

When IIS is installed, it ’ mho preconfigured to serve as a default web site. however, to change the basic settings for the web site :

  • Log on to the Web server computer as an administrator.
  • Click Start, point to settings, and then click Control Panel.
  • Double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Internet Services Manager.
  • Right-click the website to be configured in the left pane, and then click Properties.
  • Click the website tab.
  • Type a description for the website in the Description box.
  • Type the Internet Protocol (IP) address to use for the website or leave the All (Unassigned) default setting.
  • Modify the Transmission Control Protocol port as appropriate.
  • Click the Home Directory tab.
  • To use a folder on the local computer, click A directory on this computer, and then click Browse to locate the folder that you want to use.
  • To use a folder that has been shared from another computer on the network, click A share located on another computer, and then either type the network path or click Browse to select the shared folder.
  • Click Read to grant read access to the folder (required).
  • Click OK to accept the website properties.

Follow these steps to create a raw web site in IIS :

  • Log on to the web server computer as an administrator.
  • Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  • Double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Internet Services Manager.
  • Click Action, point to New, and then click website.
  • After the website Creation Wizard starts, click Next.
  • Type a description for the website. (This description is used internally to identify the website in Internet Services Manager only.)
  • Select the IP address to use for the site. Selecting All (unassigned) will make the website accessible on all interfaces and all configured IP addresses.
  • Type the TCP port number to publish the site on.
  • Type the Host Header name (the real name that is used to access this site).
  • Click Next.
  • Either type the path to the folder that’s holding the website documents or click Browse to select the folder, and then click Next.
  • Select the access permissions for the website, and then click Next.
  • Click Finish.

IIS vs. Apache

Differences between IIS and Apache include :

  • IIS is packaged with Windows while Apache is free and open source.
  • While IIS only runs on Windows, Apache can run on almost any operating system, including macOS, UNIX and Linux (it’s best suited for Linux).
  • IIS integrates with other Microsoft offerings, such as .NET and the ASPX scripting language. 
  • IIS has a help desk to handle most issues while support for Apache comes from the user community.
  • The security features of IIS make it a safer option than Apache.
  • IIS’ underlying technology is compatible with standard web interfaces worldwide.
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