Run IIS Express as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp

How to Run IIS Express as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp

Start your ASP.NET sites & applications as soon as your PC boots. Survive crashes, failures and unexpected reboots — automatically

IIS Express is a lightweight, self-contained version of Microsoft's IIS web server that has been optimized for development environments.

Unlike its big brother (i.e. IIS), IIS Express runs as a console application — not as a background service. That's where AlwaysUp can help!

To setup IIS Express to run as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp:

  1. If necessary, Download and install IIS Express. Configure it to serve your web application.

    Run the IIS Express executable (C:\Program Files\IIS Express\iisexpress.exe) and ensure that it serves your pages as expected.

  2. Download and install AlwaysUp, if necessary.

  3. Start AlwaysUp.

  4. Select Application > Add to open the Add Application window:

    Add Application

  5. On the General tab:

    • In the Application field, enter the full path to the IIS Express executable:

      C:\Program Files\IIS Express\iisexpress.exe.
    • In the Name field, enter a suitable value. We have entered IIS Express but you can specify a more meaningful name if you like.

    • And in the Start the application dropdown, select Automatically but shortly after the computer boots. This setting will ensure that the web server is launched after all critical services (such as networking and Active Directory) have been fully initialized.

    IIS Express Windows Service: General Tab

  6. Move to the Logon tab. Check the box at the top and enter your username and password.

    We recommend running the web server in your regular account, so that it has access to your site configuration and artifacts.

    IIS Express Windows Service: Logon Tab

  7. Switch to the Extras tab.

    When IIS Express is running as a Windows Service, you won't be able to see the usual console output. If you would like to capture that output to a file, check the Capture output to this log file box and enter the full path to the output file:

    IIS Express Windows Service: Extras Tab

  8. We're now done configuring IIS Express as a service so click the Save button to record your settings. In a couple of seconds, a new entry will appear in the AlwaysUp window.

    The state will be "Stopped" because the web server has not yet been started:

    IIS Express Windows Service: Created

  9. To start IIS Express as a Windows Service, choose Application > Start "IIS Express". The entry's state should transition to "Running":

    IIS Express Windows Service: Running

    At this point, you should confirm that your web server is working as expected. Please:

    • Open your web browser and visit your IIS Express URL (http://localhost:8080/ in our case).

    • View the output file and ensure that no errors are reported.

    Everything looked great on our server:

    IIS Express Windows Service: Confirmed

  10. That's it! Next time your computer boots, IIS Express will start before anyone logs on and run continuously in the background.

    We encourage you to edit the entry in AlwaysUp and check out the many other settings that may be appropriate for your environment. For example, setup a sanity check to automatically restart IIS Express if it stops serving pages, configure a nightly restart to cure memory leaks, send email alerts if the server crashes, and much more.

IIS Express not working properly as a Windows Service?

  • Consult the AlwaysUp Troubleshooter — our online tool that can help you resolve the most common problems encountered when running an application as a windows service.

  • From AlwaysUp, select Application > Report Activity > Today... to bring up a HTML report detailing the interaction between AlwaysUp and IIS Express. The AlwaysUp Event Log Messages page explains the messages that may turn up.

  • Browse the AlwaysUp FAQ for answers to commonly asked questions and troubleshooting tips.

  • Contact us and we will be happy to help!

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