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  • IIS 6.0
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If you're looking for a Windows-only alternative to Apache hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) Server, try Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS). IIS is a Microsoft Web server, primarily for use with Windows-only products and organizations. IIS 6.0 was included with Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition operating systems (OS).

Using IIS, you can deploy and manage websites, delegate management and configuration tasks to site owners and enjoy a robust set of administrative tools.

What's Included

IIS 6.0 included five major components, or services: WWW, IIS Admin, FTP, NNTP and SMTP. Two of these, WWW and IIS Admin, were included in a default installation. The other three were optional installs.

As its name implies, the WWW service acts as a Web server by processing HTTP requests and directing them to content on an IIS server. As with virtually any Web server, the WWW service can be used for both Internet and intranet content. The WWW service includes a number of subcomponents designed to work with Microsoft-specific technologies, such as Active Server Pages (ASP). IIS supports the deployment of both active server pages (ASP.NET) and PHP applications on the same server.

The IIS Admin service manages the metabase, a collection of configuration information stored in an XML text file. While this data can be manually manipulated in a text editor, the IIS Admin service makes the data available to other IIS services, as well as other applications designed to read and use the metabase data.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a protocol designed to provide remote users access to a server. Users with the appropriate permissions may be able to copy files to and from the server, modify and even delete files. IIS 6.0 includes a number of FTP features, such as user isolation, to keep users from modifying or deleting other users' content.

Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) is a protocol used for transmitting and reading Usenet articles. Usenet was designed as a decentralized way for users to post messages, often referred to as articles or posts, across the Internet.

SMTP, or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, is the fifth component of IIS 6.0. SMTP is used to send email messages. It is important to note, however, that the SMTP component in IIS 6.0 is not a full-fledged email system. It is useful for sending out automatic emails in response to events, or to submit emails via a form on a website hosted on the server. For complete email support, Microsoft Exchange should be added.

Security

Security is a top priority in IIS. A major cause of many server breaches is errant services and processes that are on by default, but not in use. To address this concern, IIS 6.0 shipped with everything locked down. Only static webpage handling is turned on by default, with ASP, ASP.NET, FrontPage Server Extensions, CGI and WebDAV turned off.

IIS 6.0 includes a number of additional security features, some of which differ considerably from previous versions. For example, IIS 6.0 only handles a small subset of available Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) filetypes by default. This is to reduce the risk of malicious files being used to compromise the server. If the default list is too restrictive, it can be edited to allow more types.

Alternatives

While IIS 6.0 was, and still is, widely used, there have been significant updates to IIS since version 6.0. The current version is 8.5 and offers a number of advantages over previous incarnations.

Availability and Pricing

Hosting is not usually packaged as IIS-specific hosting. Some hosts do offer hosting plans with specialized features for IIS. One such feature is IIS Manager support with a hosting plan. It is a remote administration tool. With certain hosting plans, you'll be able to view settings and access web.config files from IIS Manage. This is likely the best option for you if you prefer to work with mostly Microsoft programs.

Points to Remember

If your company uses Microsoft FrontPage to build sites or ASP for application creation, IIS might be the best Web server for you. Naturally, IIS integrates well with Microsoft's own products. Many organizations would do well to consider upgrading to IIS 8.5, but 6.0 may continue to be a valid option for those who do not need the additional features.

IIS 6.0 Frequently Asked Questions

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