Microsoft Internet Information Services or IIS is the second largest web server in the world. IIS grants users the ability to create web sites, applications, and virtual directories. However, it isn’t always the easiest tool to use. That’s why we’re going to look at some of the best Microsoft IIS tools from extensions to performance monitoring tools that help to manage IIS.
- 1 Microsoft Extensions
- 2 1. UrlScan 3.1
- 3 2. URL Rewrite 2.1
- 4 3. IIS Manager for Remote Administration 1.2
- 5 4. Web Deploy 3.6
- 6 Third-Party Tools
- 7 5. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
- 8 6. PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
- 9 7. Dynatrace
- 10 8. AppDynamics
- 11 9. IIS Crypto
- 12 10. Orca
- 13 11. eG Enterprise
- 14 Best Microsoft IIS Tools: IIS Extensions, SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, PRTG Network Monitor and Dynatrace
We’re going to split our list of the Best IIS tools into two parts; extensions offered by Microsoft and third-party IIS tools. These are a mix of configuration management solutions and IIS monitoring tools.
Here is a list of the best Microsoft IIS tools:
Microsoft IIS Extensions
- UrlScan 3.1
- Url Rewrite 2.1
- IIS Manager for Remote Administration 1.2
- Web Deploy 3.6
Third Party Tools
- SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
- PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
- IIS Crypto
- eG Enterprise
1. UrlScan 3.1
UrlScan 3.1 is a security tool that helps to protect IIS against cyber attacks. There are a number of added protections that you get from using UrlScan 3.1 that you don’t get from the standard version of IIS.
First, this tool can restrict HTTP requests that will be processed by IIS. Blocking some HTTP requests is advantageous because it protects against requests that can be part of a cyber attack.
In addition, UrlScan 3.1 can also filter HTTP values and headers to eliminate the risk of SQL injection attacks. This is done by creating deny rules which prohibit certain requests that could be malicious. To make sure that you don’t block out legitimate connections there is also an AlwaysAllowedUrls section where you can specify URLs that should always be permitted.
For further information, UrlScan 3.1 also provides log files that you can use for more sophisticated analysis. In practice, log files help to provide additional information on errors and other problematic activity on IIS. With this information, you can make changes and deliver a more reliable service.
On account of its security features, UrlScan 3.1 is an essential download. It helps to supplement some of the security limitations that come with an unmodified version of IIS. UrlScan 3.1 supports IIS 5.1, IIS, 6.0, and IIS 7.0 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. You can download UrlScan 3.1 for free here.
2. URL Rewrite 2.1
URL Rewrite is another IIS extension that allows the user to create rules to modify URL rewriting behavior. By configuring URL rules the user can change how HTTP headers, responses, or request headers are rewritten.
In the context of an organization, configuring URL rules is useful as an administrator can configure a rule. URLs can be created that are easy for users to remember and simple to index for search engines.
Having URLs that are easy to index on search engines is a valuable step towards making your site or application available to clients. URLs that are search engine-friendly increase the visibility of your site. You don’t have to write your own rules for this either, There are a number of rule templates included out-of-the-box to help you get started.
URL Rewrite is also a good tool because it updates the user interface in IIS Manager. Having an integrated tool that allows you to create new rules helps to manage URLs much more effectively. As an extension for IIS, URL Rewrite 2.1 is available for free. You can download this tool here.
3. IIS Manager for Remote Administration 1.2
IIS Manager for Remote Administration 1.2 is vital for any enterprise looking to manage IIS remotely. You can manage IIS remotely on devices with Windows XPand up.
You can perform the majority of the functions you could on the original IIS without being onsite. Administration privileges can be used to restrict access to those employees who require access.
Managing remotely with IIS Manager for Remote Administration 1.2 is also secure, using HTTP over SSL. There are also automatic downloads where features are downloaded on the local IIS Manager that have already been installed on the web server. This simplifies the manual administrative concerns that come with remote updates.
For teams working remotely or looking to share control of web applications across multiple sites, IIS Manager for Remote Administration 1.2 is an absolute must. IIS Manager for Remote Administration 1.2 is available for IIS 7, IIS 7.5, IIS 8, and IIS 8.5. You can download the tool for free via this link here.
4. Web Deploy 3.6
Web Deploy 3.6 or msdeploy is a tool that integrates with IIS to synchronize IISsites, servers, and applications. When synchronizing, Web Deploy 3.6 can detect the difference between two locations and make only the necessary changes to synchronize servers. Using this tool is more efficient because it identifies which data needs to be synchronized rather than attempting to do everything from scratch.
Another use case where Web Deploy 3.6 is very valuable when deploying web applications. The user doesn’t need any user administrative privileges in order to deploy updates. However, the server administrator still has the control to delegate tasks to lower-ranked users without administrative privileges. In other words, deploying web applications is much easier and less restrictive than it is in the default version of IIS.
For enterprises looking to synchronize IIS sites and deploy web applications, Web Deploy 3.6 is a must have. Web Deploy 3.6 is available for IIS 7, IIS 7.5, IIS 8, IIS 8.5, and IIS 10. You can download Web Deploy 3.6 for free here.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is an application monitoring platform that can monitor IIS sites. With SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor you can see the availability of IIS servers and websites.
Key metrics like CPU usage, memory usage, response time, and disk usage can all be monitored with this tool. If there is a problem with a site then you can automatically restart it to try and fix the issue.
The monitoring experience is driven by graphs and status buttons. Graphs show you details about resource usage and other information so that you can see how an IIS website or server is performing.
For example, there are graphs outlining IIS Average CPU and Memory Usage to show how many resources you have available. This helps you to know whether you need to buy more resources or not.
Security wise, SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor can monitor SSL certificate expiration. The tool can tell you the dates when your SSL certificates expire and the number of days you have left before that point in time. Having this information on hand makes it easy to manage SSL certificates for multiple sites or servers without running the risk of them expiring.
As a performance monitoring solution for IIS, SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor has everything you need to manage IIS resources efficiently. It is also competitively priced, starting at $2,995 (£2,308). There is a 30-day free trial available.
PRTG Network Monitor is a free network monitoring tool that can be used to monitor IIS services. With PRTG Network Monitor you can use the dedicated Windows IIS Application Sensor to monitor sent and received bytes per second, number of sent and received files per second, number of anonymous and known users per second, number of common gateway interface requests per second, and more.
While monitoring IIS performance can be challenging, PRTG Network Monitor analyzes performance right down to the application source code. For instance, PRTG Network Monitor measures the loading time of the source code to spot problems as early as possible.
Likewise, alerts can be configured to alert you once a predefined threshold has been crossed. Alerts are sent to your email, SMS, or mobile device (through push notifications) to make sure that you’re always up-to-date.
PRTG Network Monitor can also monitor physical hardware performance. In many instances, the performance of physical hardware will have a tremendous impact on the performance of IIS services. As such, using PRTG Network Monitor’s infrastructure monitoring capabilities to track hardware CPU and memory can catch performance issues in their infancy.
The performance monitoring experience offered by PRTG Network Monitor is perfect for enterprises on a shoestring budget. PRTG Network Monitor is free up to the first 100 sensors.
However, there are a number of paid versions available for larger organizations. Paid versions of PRTG Network Monitor start at $1600 (£1,233) for 500 sensors. You can download a 30-day free trial.
Dynatrace is an application monitoring platform that can monitor IIS server performance. Through the dashboard you can view the availability of web servers and delve down into web server process groups.
For instance, you can see active services and dependent applications with information like the application version immediately visible. Once you install the Dynatrace Agent you can also see All Requests, Response times, Response sizes, Active threads, CPU usage, and memory usage.
The fast-track configuration capabilities of Dynatrace make it an impressive tool. There is an autodiscovery feature which can automatically detect IIS web servers in your network. All you need to do is install one agent and Dynatrace will do the rest of the work for you. These services are then displayed to you on an interactive map so that you can view your IIS architecture in more detail.
Another great feature is the ability to visualize IIS service requests. On the Service Flow screen you can view an IIS service from start to finish. Here you are shown a chart which details each service request type. This feature allows you to see what processes contribute to the response time of IIS.
For end-to-end IIS monitoring, Dynatrace is one of the top performance monitors on the market. In order to know the price of Dynatrace you’ll have to contact the company directly. However, there is a 15-day free trial available here.
AppDynamics is an application performance monitoring solution that offers a flawless IIS monitoring experience. AppDynamics monitors the throughput, memory usage, Disk I/O, and CPU utilization of IIS web servers. The platform is straightforward to deploy and can be installed in just a few minutes.
The user interface is extremely user-friendly. IIS applications are automatically discovered and displayed as part of a flow map. The flow map displays the transactions that are occurring with a web server or application.
If you want to view memory information then clicking the memory tab will show you the real-time memory utilization of your resources. This information is displayed as line graphs so that you can view the change over time.
Where AppDynamics excels as a IIS monitoring solution is in its diagnostic capabilities. The tool automatically provides you with code level data if an application is slow or a bottleneck is detected. By viewing the code execution you can see where the problem originated and find a solution.
The root cause abilities of AppDynamics are essential for those who want a performance monitoring solution. AppDynamics supports Microsoft IIS Express 7.x, Microsoft IIS 6.0, Microsoft 7.0, Microsoft 7.5, and Visual Studio development server. You can download the 15-day day SaaS trial through this link here.
9. IIS Crypto
IIS Crypto is an IIS extension that can enable or disable protocols, hashes, and key exchange algorithms. The user interface is easy to use, with six main tabs: sChannel, Cipher Suites, Advanced, Templates, Site Scanner, and About.
On the sChannel screen you can enable or disable different features and protocols. There are five lists you can interact with: Server Protocols, Ciphers, Hashes, Key Exchanges, and Client Protocols. On the Cipher suites page you can reorder cipher suites.
The next most notable feature is that of templates. You can create custom protocol templates that can be run on multiple servers. This helps to make managing multiple sites or applications more convenient. However, it is important to note that you need to have administrator privileges in order to use IIS crypto.
One of the biggest perks of IIS Crypto is that it is completely free. IIS Crypto is available for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019. The software is available as a GUI or a command line interface. You can download IIS Crypto free of charge here.
Orca is a configuration management solution for IIS. When using Orca you can compare the differences between different IIS configurations automatically. Configurations can be compared between environments and different points in time.
Once you’re ready to make changes you can deploy configuration changes up to hundreds of servers. Any configuration changes that are non-compliant can be scrapped immediately.
The security documentation features offered by Orca are also very useful. Orca automatically reports configuration changes so that you have a record of what changes have been made. Having these reports readily available is not only useful for regulatory compliance but also improves visibility as well.
Orca is one of the more convenient configuration management solutions on the market. If you’re looking to manage configurations across multiple IIS sites then Orca is highly recommended. The pricing options for Orca is only available if you contact the company directly. There is also a free trial available here.
11. eG Enterprise
eG Enterprise is a performance monitoring platform with IIS monitoring. eG Enterprise monitors the availability and response time of transactions between IIS websites and users. Monitoring the user experience is eG Enterprise’s primary concern with IIS monitoring. The external agent tests the quality of the user experience in different locations by using request emulation and measuring the response time users are experiencing.
The internal transaction monitoring of eG Enterprise breaks down the request rate of individual web transactions, average response times, and the number of aborts by web transactions. With this information, you can pinpoint if your site is living up to expectations or needs to be tweaked further.
eG Enterprise can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud as a license or subscription. However, you need to contact the sales team in order to view a quote. There is a free evaluation version which supports up to five servers as a cloud-deployed platform. You can download a free trial of eG Enterprise here.
Best Microsoft IIS Tools: IIS Extensions, SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, PRTG Network Monitor and Dynatrace
Though IIS has its limitations, the large number of additional tools available to extend its functionality. Using Microsoft extensions such as UrlScan 3.1, Url Rewrite 2.1, IIS Manager for Remote Administration 1.2, and Web Deploy 3.6. Downloading these free tools can help to improve your management of IIS services and keep your sites secure.
Likewise using third-party applications and performance monitoring solutions like SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, PRTG Network Monitor, and Dynatrace can help to maintain websites. Monitoring the CPU and storage usage helps to identify if there are any faults that need to be addressed.
Delivering a first class user experience to your end users is next to impossible if you don’t have enough visibility to solve performance issues. Being proactive and adding extensions to IIS not only allow you to manage more effectively but ensure top notch performance.