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Identify IIS 7.5 sessions and logging

We have two Windows Server 2008 R2 using IIS

I want to identify:-

If IIS is functioning correctly on both servers, so how to identity web user sessions, report any problems/issues.  ?

What IIS monitoring can I use.  ?

What IIS counters are available and which ones are the best to show results on ?
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rakkad
Asked:
rakkad
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
First, you should understand that IIS is a web server first and foremost. I realize it sounds like I'm stating the obvious, but it is important because you mentioned tracking user sessions and HTTP does not have such a concept. Any notion of a persistent session happens at a higher level in web application and is tracked by some other method, such as a cookie to give the *appearance* of persistence.

Thus native IIS logs won't provide much by the way of session tracking. There are log parsers that will use things like browser version and requesting IP to attempt to gather a session (and there are plenty of log parsers out there, google is your friend) but if you really want to track a session, you need some sort of higher-level code on your web pages. This is why deep analytics packages like Google Analytics actually require you to cut and paste code into each page or into the page template in the case of a CMS.
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rakkadAuthor Commented:
So what areas do you recommend to:-

1 Monitoring IIS (ensure both web servers are working)
2. IIS counters to use
3. What areas to look at if web server isn't functioning correctly, even though it appears to be and running

Thanks
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
1) I recommend using a hosted monitoring solution. It will not only check for uptime, but you can configure it to monitor multiple URLs, so if you have something like a blog that runs on wordpress, but a storefront powered by a different package, you can monitor both. They can also be configured to look for specific content so if a page is misbehaving and returning partial content or a custom error page, you'll still know. It is a monthly charge, but they tend to be easier to set up that custom monitoring solutions which require dedicating a separate server to the task and some scripting knowledge.

2) Usually none. I'll use an analytics package to track normal web traffic, such as Mint or Google Analytics. I'll only turn on and look at IIS counters if I suspect a problem and need specific counters for troubleshooting purposes, like memory usage or tansaction times.

3) That is a very broad question and therefore not really answerable. A thing can fail a thousand ways and not all are monitorable. Most of the time your car will tell you something is wrong with a "check engine" light. But sometimes it'll seize with no warning. And what can cause a check engine light? If you've ever looked at service and diagnostic manuals, there are many many multitudes of possibilities, from the almost benign to the imminent failure. It just can't be narrowed down.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
you may want to turn on failed request tracking and use the standard w3c log files that your iis server can accumulate for you.  There are many log analyzers out there to choose from.  It comes down to personal preferences to which is better than the other.  You could tie the web server into an email campaign.. Except for google users the 1x1 pixel image tracking used to work quite well as each image had a unique name and you could parse the iis logs easily and mine it for information.. Google actually grabs each image and hides it from this approach as the results will say EVERYONE with a gmail address opened the message when in fact just google did upon receipt of the email.  It could have gone right to the spam folder.
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