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Setting up a 1&1 Windows Server VPS as a Web Server

Storm has had some serious issues with our 1&1 VPS recently, as a consequence, we’ve had to restore our server piece by piece from backups and documentation.  By default, a 1&1 VPS is not ready to serve web pages (this isn’t terribly handy for web servers!) so we needed to tweak a few settings to bring it to life.  This short guide should help you configure your server and get started serving web pages!

1. Start the required Windows Services

This first task is to start the services required to run a web server:

  • Start > Administrative Tools > Services
  • Find ‘FTP Publishing Service‘ and double click it.  Set the start type to be ‘Automatic’ and hit ‘Start’.
  • Find ‘World Wide Web Publishing Service‘ and double click it.  Set the start type to be ‘Automatic’ and hit ‘Start’.

This will run the services we need to act as a web server and FTP server.  Setting the start type to Automatic means that the services will start automatically should the server restart.

2. Relax the Windows Firewall to allow communication with the world

Next, we need to let our server communicate with the outside world!

  • Start > Control Panel > Windows Firewall
  • Go to the ‘Advanced’ tab
  • Hit the ‘Settings’ button in the top section ‘Network Connection Settings’
  • Check ‘FTP Server‘, ‘Web Server (HTTP)‘ and (if required) ‘Secure Web Server (HTTPS)‘.
  • Hit ‘OK’ and exit the firewall

3. Enable IIS to server ASP.NET pages

If you do not complete this step then you will receive an error 404 Page Not Found message when trying to view a .aspx page, but will be able to view .html pages perfectly fine.  From the Microsoft help page for this error:

“By default, when IIS is installed on any version of the Windows Server 2003 family, IIS only serves static content (HTML). “

  • Run IIS, expand the server node, and then click on Web Service Extensions.
  • From the list of extensions, click on the one that you want to enable. You’ll probably want ASP.NET v2.0.x and possibly ASP.NET v4.0.x.
  • Click the Allow button.

You should now be able to serve dynamic web pages from your server – happy hosting!

Automated Backups

As an aside to this post, you’ll also want a solid backup plan in place for if (when) 1&1 blows your server up.  I wont go into detail here as that’s another post, but I will point you at some very useful applications.

SyncBack – Free or Paid
The free version of SyncBack has everything you need to get started.  It allows you to create scheduled tasks to backup your files locally and remotely – with email reports should the process fail.  Storm has nightly, weekly and monthly jobs copying all local files to a central C:\Backups directory (we keep multiple copies incase the newest copy is corrupt).  We then have another nightly job which uses FTP to send the current Nightly copy back to our office.

ExpressMaint – Free
This is a community project to replicate a utility that was available with SQL Server 2000 for SQL Express 2005 and 2008.  ExpressMaint allows you to schedule backups of your SQL Server databases.  Storm has a batch file which is run as a nightly task.   This dumps the databases to the C:\Backups directory from where the SyncBack FTP job handles sending a copy back to our office.