IIS 8 Web Site in Windows 8 externally accessible to the World



Today I needed to allow a per to access an application that’s under development. Instead of buying a cheap ASP.NET hosting account I decided to host the app on my local IIS 8 server. The process to get this configured and working was somewhat exciting since I learned new things along the way.

I’ll show in this post the steps I followed to have this working as expected…

My setup:

  • Windows 8 running inside a virtual machine in Parallels 8 with IP address 192.168.1.107;
  • ASP.NET MVC 4 app deployed in the Default Web Site in IIS 8 that is configured to accept incoming connections in the standard port 80;
  • Linksys WAG200G router/modem connected to the outside/external World.

Steps to follow:
1 - Go to the router’s management interface. In my case it’s located in the address 192.168.1.1.

2 - You’ll need to set a port forwarding configuration. In my case it’s located in Applications & Gaming / Single Port Forwarding. It’ll vary slightly depending on your router vendor and model.

Application: HTTP
External Port: 80
Internal Port: 80
Protocol: TCP
IP Address: 192.168.1.107 (your Windows/IIS machine IP address)
Enabled: True (checked)

Linksys WAG200G Single Port Forwarding configurationFigure 1 - Linksys WAG200G Single Port Forwarding configuration

Make sure to hit the Save Settings button way bellow the page.

3 - Go to Windows 8 Control Panel / System and Security / Windows Firewall / Turn Windows Firewall on or off.
Turn off Windows Firewall for Private Networks.

Turning off Windows 8 Firewall for Private NetworksFigure 2 - Turning off Windows 8 Firewall for Private Networks

4 - Take note of your internet IP address. You can see it in the router’s status page. In my case it’s located in Status / Gateway. Again where you’ll find this info will vary depending on your router vendor.

Taking note of the internet/Gateway IP that uniquely identifies the machine on the internetFigure 3 - Taking note of the internet/Gateway IP that uniquely identifies the machine on the internet

You can also see your current IP Address using Gmail’s Last Account Activity report if you happen to have a Gmail account of course.

5 - Open a browser window and type your internet Gateway IP address taken in step 4. You should be presented with the beautiful IIS 8 default web page if you have no app deployed in the Default Web Site; otherwise you should see your app’s default page/login view.

IIS 8 Default Web Site pageFigure 4 - IIS 8 Default Web Site page

That’s it! Now the web site/app is available externally to any user in any part of the WORLD directly from my development machine.

Anytime I want I can hit Publish from within Visual Studio 2012 and deploy directly to the local IIS 8 server. The user that knows my IP address can then see my ongoing work remotely and free of charge for now.

Note 1
I do not have a static IP address, that is, my ISP here in Brazil (Oi Velox) gives me a dynamic IP address. This means that if there’s a power outage or if the router resets for whatever reason I’ll get a different address – it’s really important to know about this. To overcome such limitation there are some services that can help. One of them is No-IP. It basically allows you to access your computer by a hostname instead of an IP address by using dynamic DNS. They have a free utility app that runs in the background and that automatically syncs your current dynamic IP address with your custom hostname defined in No-IP service.

Excerpts from No-IP site:

What is a hostname?
A hostname is a name given to a computer to make connecting to it easier. Instead of typing out a long IP address you can enter the hostname followed by the domain name, such as myhostname.no-ip.com.

What is dynamic DNS?
Dynamic DNS makes it possible to connect to computers with dynamic IP addresses without needing to know the actual IP address.

They have a free account available with some limitations but it’s worth trying anyway.

Note 2
If for some reason your ISP blocks the default IIS port 80 (something common – hooray! not in my case today) you can try forwarding from a different external port like 8888 in step 2 above. In this case, you’d have to specify this port address when trying to access your IIS server. For example:

189.xxx.xxx.xxx:8888

where 189.xxx.xxx.xxx is your internet IP address.