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Beefing Up IIS: 10 Tips From A Former Solaris Admin

Matt used to administer Solaris servers. He's now changed over to IIS and in this article he will share 10 incredible IIS-boosting tips with you.

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By: Matt Foley
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September 21, 2002
  1. · Beefing Up IIS: 10 Tips From A Former Solaris Admin
  2. · Tips 10 Down To 6
  3. · Tips 5 Down To 1
  4. · Conclusion

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Beefing Up IIS: 10 Tips From A Former Solaris Admin - Tips 10 Down To 6
(Page 2 of 4 )

Tip 10: Customize Your Error Pages
Although this is quite simple to do, few people seem to take advantage of it. Just select the "Custom Errors" tab in MMC and map each error, such as 404, to the appropriate HTML or ASP template. Full details can be found here. If you want an even easier solution -- or if you want to let developers handle the mapping without giving them access to the MMC, use a product like CustomError.

Tip 9: Dive into the MetaBase
If you think Apache is powerful because it has a config file, then take a look at IIS's MetaBase. You can do just about anything you want with IIS by editing the MetaBase. For example, you can create virtual directories and servers; stop, start and pause Web sites; create, delete, enable and disable applications and more.

Microsoft provides a GUI utility called MetaEdit, somewhat similar to RegEdit, which helps you read from and write to the MetaBase. Download the latest version here. To really impress those UNIX administratorss -- and to take full advantage of the MetaBase by learning how to manipulate it programmatically -- you'll want to try out the command-line interface, officially called the IIS Administration Script Utility. Its short name is adsutil.vbs and you'll find it in your C:\inetpub\adminscripts directory. If you canít find it here, check in your %SystemRoot% \ system32 \ inetsrv \ adminsamples directory. You'lll find it together with a host of other useful administrative scripts.

A word of caution though: Just like Apache conf files, the MetaBase is pretty crucial to the functioning of your Web server, so don't ruin it. back it up first.

Tip 8: Add spell checking to your URLs
Apache folks always brag about cool little tricks that Apache is capable of -- especially because of the wealth of modules that can extend the server's basic functionality. One of the coolest of these is the ability to fix URL typo's using a module called mod_speling. Well, thanks to the folks at Port80 Software, it now appears that IIS administrators can do this trick too, using an ISAPI filter called URL Spell Check. You can check it out right on their site, by trying URLs like www.urlspellcheck.com/fak.htm, www.urlspellcheck.com/faq1.htm -- or any other simple typo you care to make.

Tip 7: Rewrite your URLs
Cleaning your URLs has all sorts of benefits -- it can improve the security of your site, ease migration woes, and provide an extra layer of abstraction to your Web applications. Moving from a ColdFusion to an ASP based site, for example, is no big deal if you can remap the URLs. Apache users have long bragged about the huge power of mod_rewrite -- the standard Apache module for URL rewriting.

Well, there are now literally a dozen versions of this type of product for IIS -- many of them quite a bit easier to use than mod_rewrite, which tends to presume familiarity with regular expression arcana. Check out, for example, IIS Rewrite or ISAPI Rewrite. So brag no more, Apache partisans :p

Tip 6: Add browser detection
There are a lot of ways to build Web sites, but assuming everybody has a certain browser or screen size is just plain insane. Simple JavaScript sniff-scripts exist for client-side browser detection, but if you are an IIS user you can do better with a product called BrowserHawk from CyScape. The Apache world doesn't really have something comparable to this popular, mature and well-supported product. Speaking of CyScape, they've recently added an interesting-looking related product called CountryHawk that helps with location detection, but so far I haven't had the language- or location-sensitive content to warrant trying it out.
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