Microsoft IIS Bindings and Hosting Multiple Web Sites

This article covers the configuration of multiple web sites within a single installation of Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS). In order to do this, we need to establish an understanding of how “Bindings” work.

An “out of the box” installation of IIS will create a “Default Web Site” that listens on Port 80. This is the standard “listening” port on which web sites are hosted. In technical terms, we “Bind” the Default Site to Port 80.

IIS Bindings 001

If IIS is running on your network server, you can test the site from any workstation on the network by typing the “IP Address” or the “Host Name” of the Server into Internet Explorer. In my case, this is “” or “http://8g7yf4j-2012r2”.

IIS Bindings 002

This is all pretty straight forward so far. The situation becomes a little more complicated if you decide to host a second web site within IIS. Since the default Web Site is already “listening” on Port 80, it isn’t entirely obvious how we can run two web sites on the same server without moving one of the sites to a different port (such as 8080). This is where we need a little more knowledge of how to properly configure the bindings when we are running multiple sites.

To demonstrate this, we will go through the process of adding a second Web Site within IIS.

The first step is to create a new folder within “C:\inetpub\” to hold our Web Site assets. For convenience, I have named mine “www2root” (the default site is named “wwwroot”).

IIS Bindings 003

Now that we have created the (empty) folder, we can go ahead and choose “Add Website” from within IIS Manager. I used the following settings:

Site Name www2root
Physical Path c:\inetpub\www2root
Host Name Leave this blank!

IIS Bindings 005

Click “OK”, and you will receive a warning to the effect that you are trying to bind two web sites to the same port.

IIS Bindings 006

For the time being, we will accept this warning.

IIS Bindings 008

You can immediately see that our new web site is not running, and it cannot be started without first stopping the default web site. So, we need some mechanism by which IIS can differentiate between the two sites, and allow them to exist in harmony. The way that we do this is by utilising the “Host Name” field within the binding settings. You will hopefully recall that we left this entry blank in the previous step.

IIS Bindings 009

Choose “Edit Bindings” for the “www2root” web site and set the host name field to something other than the host name of your server. For example, the hostname of my server is “8g7yf4j-2012r2”, so I have set the value of the field within the bindings to “8g7yf4j-www2”. Click “OK” and “Close” when you are done.

Site Name www2root
Physical Path c:\inetpub\www2root
Host Name 8g7yf4j-www2

If you got everything correct, you should now be able to start both Web Sites.

IIS Bindings 011

There is now just one more task to perform. If we are going to use the “http://8g7yf4j-www2” host name to connect to the new site, we need to add this information to our LOCAL DNS Server as an Alias “CNAME” record. I’m not going to describe how to do this in detail (as it is beyond the scope of the article), but the information I entered in the DNS settings is shown below.

IIS Bindings 012

Alias Name www2root
FQDN (Target)

We should now be able to access both Web Sites from a Workstation Web Browser as follows:

IIS Bindings 002

IIS Bindings 013

You will most likely receive a “403: Access Forbidden” page when you try to load the new web site. This is purely because the web directory we created is empty, and so there is no content to display. If you wish, you can create a basic “index.html” file and place it within “c:\inetpub\www2root” to satisfy yourself that everything is working properly.

To summarise, if you wish to have multiple sites running within IIS, each site must have a unique binding (and appropriate CNAME entry within DNS).


One thought on “Microsoft IIS Bindings and Hosting Multiple Web Sites

  1. Pingback: Microsoft IIS: Configuring a Domain SSL Certificate | Practical SBS

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