Category Archives: SysAdmin

Convert a Folder to an Application on a Remote IIS Host

The topic recently came up of the best way to convert a folder to an application on remote shared hosting server. Some hosts may have this built-in to their control panel. I know many (like Cytanium) have options in the control panel to create Virtual Directories, but sometimes an application specifically needs its folder to be marked as a literal “application” within IIS.

Since I’m most familiar with Cytanium’s shared hosting I’ll use their service as a base in this example.

Within the Cytanium control panel first make sure that you have enabled Remote Management. This feature will allow you to directly connect from IIS Manager running on a remote server to the IIS service running on the hosting server.

Enable Remote Management of your shared hosting site

From your Website Properties page in the control panel, click on the Management tab (red box above), fill in the information for the new account you want to create for managing the site (blue boxes above), then click Enable (green box above). After a moment or two you will have Remote Management enabled for your shared site.

Next you set up the connection from your local IIS Manager service. If you don’t already have this installed, grab a copy here.

Open your IIS Manager and choose the option to Connect to Site. Do *not* choose Connect to Server (it won’t work) unless you have full administrative access to the server, which won’t be the case with shared web site hosting.

RemoteIIS-ConnectToSite

Specify the connection information. This should be the name of the server in which to connect (your host can clarify this for you) and the *exact* name of the site within IIS – the host can also clarify this for you if you don’t already know. The name should not have http:// and it may or may not match the domain name of the site, so if you can’t connect, the first thing I’d do it confirm these two settings.

RemoteIIS-ConnectToSite2

Assuming the IIS Remote Management service is running and enabled for the site, the next dialog box you see will be asking you for your username and password information (which, in this example, we set in the Cytanium control panel above).

RemoteIIS-ConnectToSite3

You might get a certificate warning (you will at Cytanium). As long as you trust the source (and I sure hope you trust your host if they’re supporting your site for you :>) you can click Connect and move to the next screen.

RemoteIIS-ConnectToSite4

On this last screen it is going to ask you to name the connection. You can leave it as the name of the site or give it a name that has more meaning to you – it doesn’t matter technically and is only a reference that will be displayed in your IIS Manager.

RemoteIIS-ConnectToSite5

Viola! Your connected now!

Here is what it will now look like in the IIS Manager GUI. Note also that I’ve drawn a red box around the folder that we’re going to convert to an application.

RemoteIIS-ConnectToSite6

Right click on the folder and choose Deploy -> Convert to Application.

RemoteIIS-ConnectToSite7

You’ll now see that the icon next to the folder has changed to denote that it is an active “application” within IIS.

RemoteIIS-ConnectToSite8

That’s it – your done! That folder is now an application and should work exactly as-if you had made the changes locally on the server.

By the way, you might want to poke around with the other features you can manage from the Remote IIS Manager tool. Depending on what your web host has enabled, this is a nice way to make configuration changes to your IIS hosted site.

Happy hosting!

Adding a Second Disk Live in VMware Workstation

MeInRedJacketI was installing Visual Studio 2013 today in my development environment – which I run inside of VMware Workstation – and it warned me that I didn’t have enough free disk space. No problem – that’s one of the wonderful things about running this in VMware, I can just add another disk on-the-fly with minimal effort.

I added the additional disk and opened Server Manager to initialize and format it but I got an error message of “The disk is offline because of policy set by an administrator“. That was a new one for me. Google lead me to a few different Microsoft articles that weren’t helpful at all. After a few tries I was able to find a VMware KB article that describes the exact steps to get past this error so that I could start using the new disk.

Here’s the post: Unable to initialize a second virtual disk within Windows 2008 or Windows 2008 R2

If you follow the steps exactly as described (there aren’t many and it isn’t hard) you’ll then be able to initialize and format your disk for use. I did this and then adjusted the install path for VS2013 to point to the newly added disk. Problem solved – it proceeded without error.

I hope this helps someone else and saves you time searching online for an answer! :)

I Doubled My Wifi Range This Weekend

I bought a WiFi range extender back in 2009 but had some initial problems getting it to work properly with the WiFi router that I had at the time. Being someone who tends to hold on to things – especially technology toys – I stuffed it into a closet and forgot about it.

Well, I got it back out recently and finally configured it over the weekend. The specific device I have is the Hawking HWREN1 Hi-Gain Wireless-300N Range Extender (only $72.99 at Amazon). I don’t remember the problems I had back in ’09 but setting it up yesterday really wasn’t that bad. I plugged it into the local network (hardwired connection), ran through the setup wizard, unplugged it, rebooted, and connected.

What this does is connect to your existing WiFi network and then rebroadcast. So you configure the extender and locate it just within range (perhaps 2 bars rather than 5). It grabs that network and then from the physical location of the extender, you have almost the same range again as from the base. This means that you can almost twice the WiFi coverage.

I use it specifically like this: My base WiFi router is sitting in a closet downstairs. I get pretty good WiFi downstairs (excluding a small area in the farthest other side of the house) but upstairs has a few dead spots. [Thankfully my house is hardwired so my PC, printer, AppleTV, etc. don't have to worry about WiFi.] But of course I have an iPhone, and iPad, and occasionally use the laptop upstairs – all of which want a wireless connection. Anyway, I configured the HWREN1 and located it upstairs in a place that has two bars from the base WiFi router. Now I get strong coverage throughout the entire upstairs.

Yesterday I used the new network to stream the Redskins game to my iPad (NFL Sunday Ticket app) upstairs and had a much better experience than in the past – very few pauses or quality degradation (which I blame to an extent on DirecTV or the NFL).

If you have some dead spot areas that you’d like to kill (pun intended :>) you might consider grabbing one of these. For $73 it isn’t much of an investment and it can save quite a bit of frustration trying to get online within weak WiFi range areas of your house (or place of business).

OrcsWeb Adds VMware VCP to Long Certifications List

At OrcsWeb we have a large investment in VMware. We love the stability, performance, enterprise features, and fairly regular release of improvements and new options. We also now have several team members who are VMware certified professionals.

You may not know, but every person on our support staff is a Microsoft Certified Professional. Some are MCPs and others are MCSA, MCSE, MSDBA – or another advanced certification. We now also have multiple people who have taken, and passed, the VMware VCP-CLOUD and VCP-DCV certifications.

I’ve always felt that experience was more important than certifications – and in the past you could just read a book and pass many industry standard tests. In recent years though certification tests from all major vendors have gotten more challenging and are a better representation of action knowledge rather than memorizing.

So when someone already has the experience, like our support and architecture teams here at OrcsWeb, its a nice “add-on” to go ahead with the certification so that there is something official to share that confirms the knowledge and experience.

Getting .NET 4.5 working on a new IIS8 installation

I fought with IIS8 and ASP.NET 4.5 way longer than I should have had to this morning.

Per previous lessons learned, I used WebPI to install IIS and the recommended configuration. I also selected .NET 4.5 and Web Deploy. Afterward I threw up a simple Hello World type ASP.NET page but when I hit it I got this error:

HTTP Error 404.17 – Not Found
The requested content appears to be script and will not be served by the static file handler.

I checked the application pool and saw that it was set to 4.0. I also checked under Roles-IIS and confirmed that the server thought ASP.NET 4.x was installed. Yet obviously something wasn’t working properly. If I changed the application pool to 2.0 the test page loaded fine.

After a bunch of troubleshooting trying to figure this out, I decided to step back into WebPI and see if I could reinstall 4.5 that way. While it doesn’t allow a “reinstall” I did notice that the “IIS: ASP.NET 4.5″ component was showing as available for install. Hmm. Worth a shot.

So I let it run through that install, tested again, and the test page worked. Yeah! It seems like there might be some sort of failure or bug in this process since IIS thought 4.x should work yet it seems that there were no mappings set up until I did the additional component install.

(BTW – I tested this on two different fresh Windows Server 2012 installations, so it wasn’t just one bad build.)

Well, lesson learned and I’ll get through this a lot faster next time. Hopefully this saves someone else hours of troubleshooting and allows them to get on with their coding.

Happy hosting!