ASP.NET Web Application Project Deployment FAQ

This topic answers frequently asked questions about how to deploy web application projects by using the following products:

Many of the answers instruct you to change deployment settings by editing the publish profile (.pubxml) file or the wpp.targets file. For information about how to do this, see How to: Edit Deployment Settings in the Project File.

This topic contains the following sections:

You can limit the files that are deployed by selecting the Only files needed to run this application or All files in this project options on the Package/Publish Web tab. If you select the All files in this project option, you can right-click a file in Solution Explorer and select Exclude From Project to keep it from being deployed. For more information about what files are excluded when you use the Only files needed to run this application or All files in this project options, see Why don't all of the files in my project folder get deployed?.

If these options are not flexible enough for you, edit the .pubxml or the .wpp.targets file and add an ExcludeFilesFromDeployment element or an ExcludeFoldersFromDeployment element (or both) in the PropertyGroup element. In each element, you can specify a single name, or you can specify multiple names delimited by semicolons (;), as shown in the following example:


For more information, see the following posts on Sayed Hashimi's blog:

  1. Web Deployment Tool (MSDeploy): Build Package including extra files or excluding specific files

  2. Web Deployment Tool (MSDeploy): How to exclude files from package based on Configuration

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From the Project menu select Package/Publish Settings to open the Package/Publish Web tab of the Project Properties window. A drop-down list in the section labeled Items to deploy (applies to all deployment methods) offers three options:

  • Only files needed to run this application. This is the default value. Visual Studio tries to determine which files are required for the application to run successfully. For example, this includes assemblies in the bin folder, files generated during the build, and files marked as Content. To see if a file is marked as Content, select the file in Solution Explorer, and check the file's Build Action property in the Properties window. You can change the Build Action value to Content to cause the file to be deployed, or change it to something else, such as None, to prevent the file from being deployed. Some file types that are automatically set to Content include .master, .svc, .ashx, .asax, .skin, .browser, .config, .and sitemap. A file must be included in the project in order to have a Build Action property.

  • All files in this project. Visual Studio deploys all files that are included in the project, regardless of their Build Action property values.

  • All files in the project folder. Visual Studio deploys all files that are in the project folder and subfolders, regardless of whether they are included in the project or their Build Action property values.

If you are familiar with MSBuild syntax, you can find details about how these three options work in the following files:

  • Microsoft.Web.Publishing.OnlyFilesToRunTheApp.targets

  • Microsoft.Web.Publishing.AllFilesInTheProject.targets

  • Microsoft.Web.Publishing.AllFilesInProjectFolder.targets

These files can be found at the following location in a computer that has Visual Studio installed:

C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\Microsoft\VisualStudio\v10.0\Web\

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You have several options:

  • Comment out specific transforms in the Web.config transform file.

  • Rename the transform file to a name that does not correspond to a defined build configuration or a Publish profile. For example, you might change Web.Debug.config to Web.Debugx.config. (You might have to rename the file outside of Visual Studio.)

  • Delete the transform file. If you have customized the file, the customizations will be lost.

  • Edit the .pubxml file or .wpp.targets file by adding a TransformWebConfigEnabled element to the PropertyGroup element and setting its value to False.

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Web Deploy parameters are more complex to set up than Visual Studio Web.config transformations but are very flexible. Web Deploy parameters are complex to set up because they can automate many other deployment tasks, such as updating database scripts and IIS settings. Web Deploy parameters are useful for Web.config transformation when you are creating a deployment package and when you are creating the package you don't know the values that need to go into the deployed Web.config file. Web Deploy parameters let you specify values for the parameters when the package is installed, not just when it is created. This is especially useful in enterprise environments, where it's common for different people to be responsible for creating and installing deployment packages. For example, the developer who creates a package might not know certain passwords that need to be in the Web.config file. The IT administrator who installs the package can enter those values when the package is installed. For more information, see Parameterization vs. Web.config Transformation on Vishal Joshi's blog and How to: Use Parameters to Configure Deployment Settings When a Package is Installed.

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When you implement an Entity Framework Code First context class to access a database, the Settings tab of the Publish Web wizard displays a check box that lets you use Code First Migrations to automate deployment for that database. But if you are only accessing the database by using the Code First API, and Code First is not being used to create the database, you can't use Migrations to deploy it. In this scenario, what you want is the Update database check box that lets you deploy a SQL Server database that you don't use a Code First context for.

To deploy a Code First database without using Migrations

  1. In Visual Studio, if you have the Publish Web wizard open, close it.

  2. In the application Web.config file, create an additional connection string element for the database. Give this new connection string element a name that does not match either the context class name or the fully qualified class name.

  3. Build the project, and then open the Publish Web wizard and select the profile you want to work with.

  4. Select the Settings tab.

    You now see two entries for the database in the Databases section of the tab, one for the Code First context class and one for the new connection string in the Web.config file.

  5. In the entry for the Code First context class, enter the connection string that you want the application to use at run time, and clear the Apply Code First Migrations check box.

  6. In the entry for the new Web.config file connection string, enter the connection string that should be used to make schema changes during deployment, and select Update database.

    For more information about how to enter database deployment settings, see How to: Deploy a Web Application Project Using One-Click Publish and Web Deploy.

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The packaging and publishing verbosity level is controlled by the same Visual Studio setting that determines MSBuild verbosity. From the main menu, select Tools and then Options. In the Options dialog box, expand Projects and Solutions, and then select Build and Run. You will then see the MSBuild project build output verbosity drop-down list, and you can select one of the following options from that list:

  • Quiet

  • Minimal

  • Normal

  • Detailed

  • Diagnostic

These options correspond to what you can set by using the /verbosity or /v flag when you run MSBuild from the command line. For more information about MSBuild command-line flags, see MSBuild Command Line Reference.

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No. When you enter an HTTPS URL in the Service URL text box of the Publish Web dialog box, Visual Studio automatically uses the Windows Management service. If you want to use HTTPS, we recommend that you use Windows Management service.

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No. If you want to use the tempAgent provider setting, you must use the Web Deploy command line or the deploy.cmd file that Visual Studio generates when it creates a deployment package.

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You can create two publish profiles, one to publish the project and one to create the backup package. Then after publishing the project you just have to switch to the publish profile that creates the package and click Publish again. For information about how to create a publish profile that creates a package, see How to: Deploy a Web Application Project Using a Web Deployment Package.

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Yes. Edit the project file and add a DeployOnBuild element in the appropriate PropertyGroup element. (For information about how to edit the project file, see How to: Edit Deployment Settings in the Project File.) The following example shows a PropertyGroup element for the Release build configuration:

<PropertyGroup Condition=" '$(Configuration)|$(Platform)' == 'Release|AnyCPU' ">
  <!-- Additional settings -->

If you make this change in the project file, make sure that the PropertyGroup element that you update is located before the Import statements in the project file. (The DeployOnBuild property must be set before the Import for Microsoft.Web.Publishing.targets.)

The DeployDefaultTarget element must also be set to Package. However, it is optional, because that is the default value.

This is all you have to do to make package creation automatic when you build the solution from the command line. To make automatic package creation work also when you build the solution from Visual Studio, add the following code to the project file after the Import for Microsoft.CSharp.targets or Microsoft.VisualBasic.targets:


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This is possible in IIS 7 and later versions. For information about delegating deployment permissions, see the following topics:

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If you need to execute multiple copy commands to deploy your application and there is a significant time interval between them, the application domain might restart between copy commands. To prevent a restart, Add an httpRuntime Element (ASP.NET Settings Schema) element to the Web.config file and set the waitChangeNotification attribute to the number of seconds to wait to ensure that the application domain does not restart between copy commands. For example, if you want to specify a five-second wait time, the httpRuntime element might look like the following example.

        <compilation debug="false" targetFramework="4.0" />
      waitChangeNotification="5" />

If you want to ensure that the application domain restarts within a certain interval after the first copy command executes, add a maxWaitChangeNotification attribute to the httpRuntime element and set it to the maximum number of seconds to wait. For example, a Web.config file that has the httpRuntime element with both attributes might look like the following example.

      maxWaitChangeNotification="10" />

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In order to deploy an ASP.NET 4 web application, ASP.NET 4 must be registered with IIS on the destination server. In addition, the application pool of the IIS Web site that you are deploying to must be assigned to the .NET Framework 4. If either of these conditions is not true, you might see one of the following errors when you attempt to deploy:

  • The default .NET 4.0 application pool does not exist or the application could not be added. Please verify that ASP.NET 4.0 is installed on this machine.

  • The application pool that you are trying to use has the 'managedRuntimeVersion' property set to 'v2.0'. This application requires 'v4.0'.

ASP.NET 4 is installed when you install Visual Studio. However, the installation process does not automatically register ASP.NET 4 with IIS, and existing IIS Web sites are not automatically assigned to.NET 4 application pools. To fix this, register ASP.NET with IIS and set the application pool of the destination IIS Web site to the .NET Framework version that is required by the package. For information about how to register IIS, see ASP.NET IIS Registration Tool (Aspnet_regiis.exe).

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If either of the following conditions is true, you can use the same package to deploy to IIS 6 and IIS 7:

  • You do not select the Include all IIS Settings as configured in IIS Manager option on the Package/Publish Web tab.

  • You select the Include all IIS Settings as configured in IIS Manager option and create the package on IIS 6.

You cannot deploy a package to IIS 6 that is created on IIS 7 if you select the Include all IIS Settings as configured in IIS Manager option.

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Typically when you deploy to production servers you are deploying across a firewall. If you get end-of-stream errors on large files, check the settings on the firewall. If this is the cause of the deployment failure, you might see error messages such as the following example on the source computer:

Warning: Retrying the sync because a socket error (10054) occurred.

Retrying operation 'Serialization' on object MSDeploy.contentPath (sourcePath).

On the destination server, you might see error messages such as the following example:

System.Net.HttpListenerException: An operation was attempted on a nonexistent network connection

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