Friday, April 11, 2014

IIS Reverse Proxy to multiple sites running under a single Node.js instance

Subtitled: How to setup Node.js to handle multiple sites and to run on Windows while IIS still occupies port 80

I did this on a Window 7 machine which was running IIS 7.5


Setting up your local box for testing

In your HOSTS file add some sites to test:


Create a new web site in IIS:
Open IIS.
Right click on Sites.
"Add Web Site..."
Site Name: MyReverseProxy
Physical Path: C:\inetpub\wwwroot (can be anything as we're not going to use it)
Host name:
Now click on Bindings under Actions on RHS
Click Add.
Host name:
Click Add.
Host name:
You now have 3 host names running on port 80 on IIS and your HOSTS file will direct all local requests to this web site.

Click on MyReverseProxy on left panel. If the URL Rewrite widget is not under IIS then you might need to install it and might also need to add Application Request Routing (ARR). I can't remember if it came installed by default on IIS 7.5 or if I added it.

Open the URL Rewrite widget and click on Add Rule(s)...
Select a Reverse Proxy rule and click OK.
Server name: localhost:3000/ (or where the Node server is running.)
If you're using relative URLs in the Node.js code then you don't have to rewrite the domain names of the links in the HTTP responses. If you are using absolute names then you're in trouble if you're handling multiple domains as you won't know at this stage which one it's for. The only solution I have for this is to use relative URLs and DO NOT check the option to "Rewrite the domain names..."

Now start your Node.js application on port 3000 and try and access the sites,, and and they should all return the contents of your site running on port 3000.

We're not done yet. If, in Node.js/Express, you take a look at the value you will see that it reads "localhost:3000" and has not passed through the value you were expecting which was one of

To get this to work you need to go to this folder with an Administrator command prompt:
and run this command:
appcmd.exe set config -section:system.webServer/proxy /preserveHostHeader:"True" /commit:apphost

What this command will do is open this file:
and find the section called <system.webServer> and change this:
        <proxy enabled="true" />
 to this:
        <proxy enabled="true" preserveHostHeader="true" />
Recycle the app pool on your reverse proxy site in IIS and try and access it again. The host "head" property will be correctly set.

Now the final "thing" you want to do is to be able to handle multiple sites from your Node.js/Express application.

Here is some basic middleware in app/server.js that will switch between sites:
app.use(function(req, res, next) {
    console.log('Domain is: ' +;
    switch( {
        case '':
        case '':
        case '':
            console.log('Unknown domain: ' +;

You would then setup routes that appropriately handled routes for each host that you were expecting. Where routes are ambiguous you would put a switch statement like above in there to arbitrate among domain functionality.

You could also put a node-proxy in front of these sites to switch between different node apps but then you're defeating the purpose of IIS which can already do that and more efficiently so I can't see the need for a node-proxy.

Some of the answers from this Stackoverflow question might help readers of this topic.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.