Access IIS Express from another machine

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The Problem

You have a website running in your local machine using IIS Express and you want another computer on your local network to be able to reach said website.

This becomes useful never when said website is some REST API. The coder next to you needs your local developments to test some of his stuff but what you are doing is so epic, that cannot be committed to source control just yet.

Enter, sharing access.

The Solution

You should not have the problem above. You should commit your code. The developments of each programmer should be contained and not affect other people.

Yeah, after you have listened to your inner scrum master telling you all the above and maybe more, let’s get back to business.

There’s two ways to go around this:

  1. The easy way: npm install your way out this
  2. The right way: tell IIS to allow external access

The Easy Way

You can install this little helper IIS Proxy with:

    $ npm install -g iisexpress-proxy
    $ iisexpress-proxy host:localPort to proxyPort
    # now open <your-ip>:<proxyPort> on "any" machine and marvel...

Sample output:

    $ iisexpress-proxy to 5001
    IIS Express Proxy 1.1.8
    Proxying to network interfaces:
            VPN Connection:
            Local Area Connection:
            VirtualBox Host-Only Network:
    Listening... [press Control-C to exit]

The Right Way

You can tell IIS Express to allow external requests. By default it blocks them (allows only localhost).

Now the IF. If you are using Visual Studio 2015 you’ve go to:

$ cd <src-root>
$ vim .vs/config/applicationhost.config

Find your website entry in there (there may be several) and update the binding:

<site name="Epic Website" id="1">
    <application path="/">
        <virtualDirectory path="/" physicalPath="%SystemDrive%/road/to/nowhere/app" />
        <!-- Replace your binding with this line -->
        <!-- The last * tells IIS that it should reply to anything -->
        <binding protocol="http" bindingInformation="*:80:*" />

If you are using and older VS (before 2015) you need to to apply the same configuration update but the file’s location will be:

$ vim %USERPROFILE%\Documents\iisexpress\config\applicationhost.config

After updating the configuration, the website must be restarted. If all goes well, you should be able to access the local website from the local network.

I was able to get this working without any ACL/HTTP.sys magic as mentioned here but YMMV.



Term Description
IIS Internet Information Services – Microsoft Web Server
IIS Express Lightweight, self-contained version of IIS optimized for development work
YMMV your mileage may vary

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