IISCnfg.vbs - IIS Settings Replication
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Published: 20 Oct 2006
Abstract
This article examines the usage of IISCnfg.vbs file.
by Web Team at ORCS Web
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Introduction

Microsoft provides a tool called IISCnfg for management of the Internet Information Services (IIS) Settings.  One of the features that this includes is the ability to replicate the IIS settings from one server to another.  This is useful in a webfarm environment where you require all web servers to be in sync.

IISCnfg.vbs is automatically placed in the %windir%/System32 folder if IIS6 is installed and is a command line tool to be run directly or through a batch file.

I have been using IISCnfg for a few years on a number of different webfarms and have worked through a few issues with it that I will share here.  I am also making a few scripts available that extend and help better utilize the IISCnfg file.  IISCnfg has a fair bit of flexibility, but it has a couple shortcomings to become aware of and overcome.

IISCnfg.vbs has four main commands: save, export, import and copy.  I will summarize them here.

Save

This simply saves a copy of the IIS metabase as if you were saving from the IIS Management tool.  It will save it to the %windir%/system32/inetsrv/MetaBack folder and you will see it as an available backup to be restored from the IIS Management tool.

Export

This allows you to export the entire IIS metabase or parts of it to a file that you specify.  If you specify a password when exporting, the machine specific information will be stripped out and you can restore this on a different server.

Import

This is the opposite of Export and allows you to import a valid file back into the Metabase.

Copy

A Copy uses a combination of Export and Import to copy the IIS settings from one server to another.  It will export the metabase to disk, map a network drive to a target server, copy the file over and use Import on the other end to load the metabase into the target server.

For metabase replication I use two terms to describe the features that I want to utilize:

Push

When I mention a metabase push, I am referring to the /Copy feature of IISCnfg.  This is easy to set up and run, but the drawback is that there is downtime on the target server while the import is run.  In a production environment this is often not acceptable unless you first disable the web server from the load balancer so that no traffic goes to the target server during the push.

Merge

A Merge on the other hand is not a built-in feature of IISCnfg and needs to be handled manually.  It will not do the export, map the network drive and import on the other end like the /Copy feature does.  MetabaseMerge.bat in the included .zip file takes care of this for you.

The advantage of the Merge is that there is no downtime on the remote servers.  This makes it a better solution for day-to-day changes on a webfarm.  The thing to be aware of is that it only adds or updates the data and does not take care of deletes.  So if you delete a site or an application pool or remove a folder as an application, those will not carry over to the target server using Merge.

Push / Merge Comparison

PUSH

MERGE

Replicates everything including deletes

Deletes not replicated

Downtime on target server during Push

No downtime or slowness during Merge

/copy command takes care of all the hard work

/merge is a property of import and requires you to manually take care of what /copy does automatically

Because there are a different set of advantages and disadvantages for each method, I use a Merge whenever possible.  If there are a lot of changes that involve deletes, I will do a staggered replication push while coordinating with the load balancer to take nodes offline during the Push.


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