Topics in the world of web development and other technologies we find interesting.

Blue Valley Technologies - TechTalk

We want to give back! We have learned much of what we use everyday by others that have taken the time to post that information to the web. Here is where we will post the things that we hope will in turn be useful to others as we explore the technologies in web development and any other topics we find interesting.
You are free to use any of the code snips or techniques that we have posted here for any purpose, personal or commercial. However if we credit another individual or group please visit their website for information about their usage terms.

WordPress Pretty Permalink Settings Results in 404 Error on Windows IIS

If you are enabling any of the alternate permalink settings in WordPress (located under Settings -> Permalinks) you may run into the common issue of seeing an ugly  404 - File or directory not found error when trying to view a post. Don't worry, windows IIS does support this ability, it just needs one extra step.

The Solution

According to the WordPress documentation, if you are running IIS 7+, you will need to also have the URL Rewrite 1.1+ module installed as well. This is a pretty standard module and is often already installed. 

What they don't mention however, is that you will need to enable this functionality in your web.config file. Look for this file in the root folder for your wordpress site, and if it does not yet exist, just create it (you can use notepad, but make sure to save the file as web.config, and not the typical .txt extension).

You will need to add the following content:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<rule name="wordpress" patternSyntax="Wildcard">
<match url="*"/>
<add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsFile" negate="true"/>
<add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsDirectory" negate="true"/>
<action type="Rewrite" url="index.php"/>

If you already had a web.config file, just add the tags that are missing, without deleting any of the existing settings.

Posted by Mark at 16:19
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How to Backup up a Webserver

It is very important that any production use webserver have a robust backup plan. This generally is accomplished with the combination of a few strategies in order to protect your server from various types of problems.

File Backups

A good backup plan should first provide you with the ability to save backups of all the important files on the server to an offsite location. This allows you to recover any files accidently deleted / modified by the users, or due to file corruption, malicious malware, etc. We will share some scripts we have used in another post to roll your own scheduled file backups to S3 storage. Files should be saved at minimum at least daily, and for many sites more frequent copies may be desired.

Database Backups

When it comes to modern website applications, most of them rely on databases as well. So you will need to ensure that those databases are also backed up. Often the database and the files should be backed up as closely together as possible, to ensure their are not any concurrency issues. We will share some scripts we have used in another post to roll your own scheduled database backups for both MySQL as well as MS-SQL. If you are having trouble deciding how often is often enough, consider how much data loss would be acceptable to your business.  If your website accepts e-commerce orders, and you last all orders from the last 24 hours, would you have the info you need in other places, such as order confirmations in your email?

Disaster Recovery Backups

The idea behind a disaster recovery backup is that there may come a time when you need to restore everything, including the server and its operating system. This can be necessary if the server is no longer functioning properly, or it has been compromised by hackers and can no longer be trusted. To do this manually it can take hours, or sometimes even days of installing software, configuring services, and finally restoring the data itself. With a disaster recovery backup, you can restore to a known working point often in minutes, and then restore the files and data to the most recent point.

A disaster recovery backup does not need to be updated nearly as often, so long as the important file and database data is being backed up regularly. We typically update our disaster recovery backups every couple of months, or whenever we have made significant configuration changes to the server. If you use Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace cloud hosting, or other cloud server offerings, the disaster recovery backup is easily accomplished with imaging or snapshotting the server instance and its related attached storage. If you are still using on-premise hardware for your webservers, you will need to use 3rd-party software for this backup.

A Good Backup Plan Needs Testing

If your business could suffer major losses when your website goes down, a backup plan is not a good plan until it has been tested.  Far too many system admins have learned the hard way, and too late that just because a backup said it completed succesfully, that there were crucial files missing, or things that just didn't work as planned. If your site is mission critical, than it is worth the time to occasionally stage a full server recovery on test hardware. Not only does this ensure that your backups are going to work when you need them, it will help you to know what to do to restore them under pressure when it really counts.


Posted by Mark at 12:10
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IIS 500 Errors when loading a static image in WordPress

I ran into this problem today and it was a frustrating one to track down. The WordPress site was a very basic blog running on IIS and using the freindly perma-links settings.

When loading a static image that had been uploaded in WordPress the browser would return a 500 error, and the IIS log would show: "GET /wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Sale.jpg - 80 - Mozilla/5.0+(Windows+NT+6.2;+WOW64;+rv:24.0)+Gecko/20100101+Firefox/24.0 500 50 5 46"

I finally found the solution on another blog, posted by iis_isz.  I have copied the solution here to make sure I can find it again in the future, and for anyone else that has the same issue!


Explanation of the Error

The image issue was a permission issue, but simply setting it manually on the original image file or parent folder is inadequate.  The behavior of WordPress is that it writes the original file using IUSR to a temporary system directory that is defined in the PHP.ini file.  This temp folder does not have IIS_IUSRS permissions on it, so when windows moves this file from the temp folder to the application's upload folder, its final home, IIS_IUSRS only has read permissions, so the permissions are not inherited from the file's parent folder.

To fix this, there are two solutions

1. Change the permissions on the temp folder giving IIS_IUSRS write/modify.

2. Change the path of the temp folder in the PHP.ini file to a folder that does have IIS_IUSRS write/modify permission.

Here is a good source detailing the problem:

I chose to move the temp folder in my PHP.ini to C:\inetpub\temp\uploads and also give it permissions.

After uploading an image in wp-admin, I was able to access the image (original, not resized) from a browser wihout the 500.50 error.



Posted by Mark at 12:26
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WebKit Font Face problem with IE9?

I just ran into this with a new site we are launching. We were using a webkit font that was generated by (great resource by the way) and I noticed the font was displaying great in pretty much everything except IE9. After a bit of searching it turns out that for some web kit fonts you will need to add a new mime-type to the site in IIS.


Here are the steps:

  1. Open the site in IIS.
  2. In the Features View, with the site node selected, click MIME Types.
  3. Click Add from the Actions area.
  4. Add ".woff" for the Extension and "application/x-font-woff
    " for the mimeType and click ok.

These steps cleared the issue up for us. : )

Posted by Mark at 12:50

Assigning NTFS folder permission to IIS7 Application Pools

Microsoft IIS Server 7.0 and up offers a lot of new features in regards to application security. One of the new features is the ability to assign each of your ASP.NET applications their own isolated Application Pool. This adds a lot of additional security because now we can also assign NTFS permissions for folders on a per application basis. This is a good thing because now when you need to give your ASP.NET application permission to read or write data to a particular folder, you don't have to automatically allow every other ASP.NET app on the same server to do so as well.

When developers that are new to IIS 7 first try to run an app they may get the error:

Access to the path 'C:\inetpub\MyWebSite\App_Data\MySiteData.xml' is denied.

This used to be fixed by simply adding the NetworkService account to the folder permissions . While it is still possible to configure your application to use the NetworkService account, it should be avoided. This older method does not allow you to assign folder permissions for ASP.NET on a per application basis.
When you create a new ASP.NET application in IIS it now will by default automatically create a new IIS App Pool with the same name and then assign it to that application. If this application will require ASP.NET code to be able to create or modify files on the server you will need to give it permission. The App_Data is one folder that often that often needs create & modify access.

NOTE: The instructions below are intended for Windows Server 2008 R2.
If you need help with Windows Server 2008 go here, and here for Windows Server 2003.

IIS7 Application Pools

You cannot currently browse for your new IIS App Pool account in the GUI, however you can still assign the folder permissions by typing IIS APPPOOL\YourAppPoolName in the Select User or Groupsdialog box which is accesible by clicking Add... Once the account is listed, assign the permissions just as would do before with the NetworkService account.

Assigning NTFS App Pool Permissions

Posted by Mark at 21:34
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