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Installing Sitefinity 4 on IIS 7

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One of the most significant improvements in Sitefinity 4 is the ease of installation. The new Project Manager encapsulates virtually all of the required elements for creating and managing new projects. Today we’ll take a brief walkthrough how simple it is to install Sitefinity on the IIS 7 platform.


Video Walkthrough

To complement today's post, evangelist Gabe Sumner has compiled a detailed video, thoroughly walking through this process step-by-step. For a visual tour through Sitefinity 4 installation on IIS 7, check out the video below.


Video: Sitefinity 4.0 installation on Windows Server 2008


Before getting started, it’s important to make sure your system is already configured with the system requirements as outlined in the installation documentation. Refer to documentation for the latest updates, and a detailed walkthrough of IIS setup is also available. However for IIS 7 the basics are:

  • Microsoft .NET 4.0
  • SQL Server (2005/2008/Express)

Note: the installer for SQL Server may require the .NET Framework 2.0. SQL Server may also be installed on a separate server, but it must be accessible from the server running the Sitefinity website.


Because some of the backend administration relies on Silverlight, it is important that your server is configured to host Silverlight applications. In most environments this is already the case. However, for additional help setting up Silverlight on your server, visit this article: "Configuring IIS for Silverlight Applications.

Website Installation

A number of options are available for installing Sitefinity on your server, including  a simple XCOPY over the network or FTP upload.

For our example we’ll install a fresh site using the Sitefinity Project Manager.

Project Manager

This application allows you to create a fresh site (similar to the "Blank Project" from previous Sitefinity versions) containing everything needed to run Sitefinity.

Download the Project Manager

The project manager is available as a free trial or if you have already registered, is available for download from your account.


It is not necessary to download the complete installer, as this is intended for your development environment. Simply download the project manager, the smaller download, around 50MB.

NOTE: It is not required to run the Project Manager on the web server; it can be launched from your development environment or other machine, then copied to the webserver using  FTP or XCOPY.

File System Project

Although there is an option in the Project Manager to install to IIS, that option installs the project to IIS as a Virtual Directory, as opposed to a full website. This is intended for a development environment, so be sure to use the “File System” option for your web server instead.


IIS Registration

Once the website is installed on the server, it's time to register the site in IIS

Add Web Site

Run IIS from the Start > Control Panel >Administrative Tools menu to see the list of websites available on your server. On a fresh install you will probably only have the Default Web Site.


For simplicity, we're going to disable the Default Web Site to free up the standard HTTP port 80 that it uses. This will allow us to use localhost to access our Sitefinity site instead of this default one. Simply select the Default Web Site then click "Stop" on the right panel to disable it.

Now add a new website by right-clicking "Sites" then selecting "Add Web Site". This will prompt you to configure your site.


Make sure the path matches up with the one that contains your site. If you already have an Application Pool designated, select it here, otherwise IIS will automatically create one for you that matches the name of your site..

Configure Web Site

Before your site is ready to run, there are few more items that need to be configured.

Application Pool

When naming your site, IIS automatically creates a new Application Pool to run it. By default, this is created to run ASP.NET version 2.0. Since Sitefinity requires 4.0, edit the pool by opening the properties in the Application Pool section.



Sitefinity configurations are stored in the App_Data folder, so as a result, the Application Pool must have write-permissions to this location, or you will get System.UnauthorizedAccessException such as “Access to the path ‘C:\inetpub\Sitefinity\App_Data\Sitefinity\Configuration\SecurityConfig.Config is denied”.

This is easily corrected by right-clicking the site's App_Data folder to access the folder Security settings.


Click "Edit" to manage the list of users, then "Add" to manually add the user. The pool follows the naming convention IIS APPOOL\[AppPoolName], in our case using the AppPool name Sitefinity.


Add the user and grant it Modify rights. Note that you may need to provide a different user depending on how you configured the application pool for your site.

After saving your changes, you can now launch your site by navigating to http://localhost on the server, and for a fresh install, you should see the standard placeholder page for your site.


Database Setup

You can now access the backend of your site by navigating to http://localhost/sitefinity, which prompts you for to create a database connection.


Enter then credentials that match your environment, then quickly step through the various prompts, including admin setup, before finally being able to login to create your site.

We will explore different database deployment scenarios for existing sites in a future post

You're Live!

The Sitefinity Dashboard is now fully accessible and can be used to create pages, content, and everything else related to the site.


If you follow this guide and experience any issues, please share your feedback on our discussion forums. In our next post, we'll take a look at doing something similar with Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6.


Leave a comment
  1. DanO Feb 23, 2011
    We are unable to resolve the "Access to the path ‘Sitefinity\App_Data\Sitefinity\Configuration\SecurityConfig.Config is denied" error.

    The Physical Path of our site is a UNC location.  We have a domain user setup to use both for the Physical Path Credentials and for the app pool's identity, and the domain user has been granted full control to the root of the site.  This setup has worked fine for 3.x sites, but we have not been able to get it working with SF 4.

    Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, DanO
  2. Josh Feb 24, 2011
    the application pool or user running the website should also have full control to the App_Data folder. does it specify in the error which identity does not have rights to the path?

    if you create a support ticket and supply the full error message they will surely give you the assistance needed to resolve the issue. hope this was helpful, thanks
  3. John Mar 10, 2011


    Once the fresh SF install is complete how do I move my pages/widgets etc across from development machine to production server?



  4. John Mar 10, 2011


    Once the fresh SF install is complete how do I move my pages/widgets etc across from development machine to production server?



  5. Robert Garcia Dec 03, 2012
    There is a typo under the pemissions section.  It should be IIS APPPOOL\[AppPoolName] not IIS APPOOL\[AppPoolName],
  6. Ralph Mar 11, 2015

    getting the error 500.19

       This configuration section cannot be used at this path. This happens when the section is locked at a parent level. Locking is either by default (overrideModeDefault="Deny"), or set explicitly by a location tag with overrideMode="Deny" or the legacy allowOverride="false".

    Are we missing a step?

  7. Ralph Mar 11, 2015
    Solving my own problem (above on the 500.19) ... Folks if you get this, chances are your IIS setup is not complete.  Redo the setup (search for "turn windows features on or off") and find your way to the IIS or Web Service area and make sure you add all the app dev services such as ASP.NET etc. (I left out CGI in my case) as well as security settings that you might need (certificates, etc.)    Because I also selected .NET 4.5 stuff for my web services, I made sure to turn on those features as well. If you are not sure then check with your Server admin but make sure you have the full ASP.NET boat if you want to make the most of the features.  IF your Server admin wants a more "precise" list then you will have to spend the time to dissect not only the SiteFinity components but your own in against the corporate policies and requirements ... tedious but doable and probably the true way to be. 

    Leave a comment