5 tips for trouble-free performance

Like many other server applications, IIS runs very smoothly if a diligent administrator installs the software properly and maintains it well. When you add a few proactive measures, such as monitoring systems and remote administration and repair utilities, these servers can continue to run without human interaction. Here are some tips for trouble-free performance:

  1. When you're building an IIS machine, rely only on mainstream (e.g., Hewlett-Packard, Campaq, Dell), quality hardware. This simple step can help you avoid problems later on.
  2. Install the minimum amount of software required to run your Web applications. You probably don't need to install many of the optional Windows 2000 or Windows NT accessories; for example, how often have you used Microsoft Paint on your server? IIS software for an NT server comes separately as the NT 4.0 Option Pack, but the same rule applies: Install only what you need.
  3. Running additional but unneeded services can expose your system to additional conflicts, such as Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. For example, I recommend that you don't install the FTP or SMTP services if you don't need them.
  4. Make sure you apply the latest service packs to your OS, then check for any hotfixes that apply to the services you installed. At http://www .microsoft.com/technet/security/current.asp, you can search by your IIS version and service pack level to find out which fixes affect you, then download the hotfixes and apply them to your new server.
  5. Use monitoring and repair software. Applying patches can cause prob-lems with applications and cause your Web server to hang. You can usually track down the cause of these problems eventually, but in the short term, you can use several products to keep your system running. One of my favorite products for NT is Active+ Software's ServiceKeeper, which can test HTTP connections and report when they don't respond correctly. Several other monitoring products can restart services, reboot servers, and perform other tasks.

Following these steps will help you get your IIS machines up and running without too much manual interaction.