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ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool Flaws

Posted in ASP.NET | Visual Studio at Thursday, February 01, 2007 3:47 PM W. Europe Standard Time

While trying to configure an ASP.NET Web Application using the Web Site Administration Tool in Visual Studio I encountered the following error:

An error was encountered. Please return to the previous page and try again.

The following message may help in diagnosing the problem:
System.Configuration.ConfigurationErrorsException: A configuration file cannot be created for the requested Configuration object.
at System.Configuration.MgmtConfigurationRecord.SaveAs(String filename, ConfigurationSaveMode saveMode, Boolean forceUpdateAll)
at System.Configuration.Configuration.SaveAsImpl(String filename, ConfigurationSaveMode saveMode, Boolean forceSaveAll)
at System.Configuration.Configuration.Save(ConfigurationSaveMode saveMode)
at System.Web.Administration.WebAdminPage.SaveConfig(Configuration config)
at System.Web.Administration.WebAdminPage.VerifyAppValid()

Is the ConfigurationErrorsException really helpful? Actually not, because it's not a configuration error the admin tool encounters but rather a compatibility issue. Consider the path the project is located in, it begins with: D:\Benutzer\Alexander Groß\…. The admin tool doesn't expect paths containing special characters like my last name's "ß".

To work around the issue I created a junction named D:\Benutzer\agross pointing to D:\Benutzer\Alexander Groß and lo and behold, the Web Site Administration tool works now.

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Monday, April 23, 2007 6:00:28 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Thanks a lot, I had a similar problem and I solved it after reading this blog entry.
Monday, April 23, 2007 8:06:57 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Glad to see the article was helpful!
Thursday, May 17, 2007 7:34:34 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Have you been able to get the Website Administration Tool to work on a remote server?

I copied the site code from the Framework Dir to a new IIS Virtual Dir on my server. And then from my client machine I tried to run it for an application I had configured with users and roles, etc.

It gives me the error: This tool cannot be remotely accessed.

I know there is a way around this. Just not sure what it is yet.
Thursday, May 17, 2007 9:03:23 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
I did set up a Web Site Administration Tool (WSAT) site on a remote server once, but couldn't test accessing it remote due to port limitations (and I didn't have access to the firewall).

Your error message appears to be clear about accessing WSAT remotely. You can try to create a VPN/SSH tunnel to the server and try this way, but I'm not sure if this counts as "remote" with regard to WSAT.
Saturday, May 19, 2007 7:40:34 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Hello, I am quite new to I had a similar problem and am interested in how you tracked down that one. I only saw the error message even without the expection. Is there a log file for getting more information?
Saturday, May 19, 2007 9:02:47 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
I don't remember exactly how I found the source of the problem but I suspect Filemon and Reflector were of help.
Thursday, June 14, 2007 8:57:51 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
The actual solution is to use this method.

Assume your website is, D:\Benutzer\Alexander Groß\
After the ASP.NET WSAT is loaded and shows an error message, replace,

http://localhost:1823/asp.netwebadminfiles/default.aspx?applicationPhysicalPath=D:\Benutzer\Alexander%20Gro%DF\&applicationUrl=/Alexander Gro%DF

What has to be done is to is replace the path with its HTML equivalent. It's that easy. To Find the HTML equivalent, say for, ß, type the name of your favourite website, followed by a slash and ß, and then browser will do the rest, or simply do a web search (ex:-ß returns something like, having the ß replaced).
Senaka Fernando
Friday, July 06, 2007 9:00:14 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Hi Senaka,

I understand what you are saying, and that works in a development scenario. However, what I'm interested in is how to bypass/ override or remove the security that restricts the WSAT from being run in remote mode (ie: accessing the website from a remote server, without visual studio).

There must be a way to remove the security restrictions.

Friday, July 06, 2007 11:07:21 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)

just an idea that came to mind (not tested): You can try setting up WSAT on the server so you are able to access is locally through a Remote Desktop Connection. This definitely works as I've done it several times. Then, create a SSH tunnel pointing to the WSAT site's port and try accessing the web site from your machine through the tunnel. From WSAT's point of view it should look like you are a local user, i.e. the request is originating from

Friday, July 06, 2007 11:55:35 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
It appears to be working! The plink call looks like this:

plink -ssh -C -L 50000: <username>@<server>

Where 50000 is the local port that will be redirected to the web server's port 8080. In the browser on your local machine enter an URL like this:

http://localhost:50000/WebSiteAdmin/default.aspx?applicationPhysicalPath=<Local path>&applicationUrl=<Relative URL>
Friday, July 13, 2007 4:06:08 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)

Thanks for those ideas. I will try them out.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007 3:05:58 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Hi Alex,

Just following up on this. I did persist with this issue and managed to crack the WSAT to run remotely (deployed as a website on a remote server, as opposed to running within Visual Studio 2005). There are a number of places in the code behind that check for localhost, which required amending.

Though having got it to work, I can see why MS were ruluctant to allow remote use, as it quite freely opens up the admin of websites using .net authentication.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008 6:00:35 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
please tim, how did you crack the remote website admin thingy, i need it urgently. thanks
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 7:07:26 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Hi alex,

Please, I'm interested in modifying the codes for website admin to allow for remote access, could you please email me the details of what codes i need to modify to achieve this

my email is or

thanks a bunch, i appreciate.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 7:22:00 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Afam, I don't know what Tim did. If you want to go for the Putty/plink option, it's all up here in the comments section. Don't expect Tim to monitor this page as he commented in August of last year.
Thursday, April 24, 2008 9:24:41 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Ok, alex, i've gotten it to work according to the putty/plink option
but still when i try accessing from a remote machine i get the "tool cannot be accessed remotely error". Is there any way known to you to resolve this, I mean without installing WSAT?

Thursday, April 24, 2008 10:16:30 AM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Afam, after you've set up the SSH tunnel, be sure to use the forwarded port on your local machine.

Here's what I did.
1. Ensure that WSAT runs on the server (I use RDP to do that). I created a new application in the IIS Default Web Site for WSAT and one for the application to manage. The application to manage could also run under another IIS web site on a different host header or port, but you need a second instance just for the management interface.

2. Set up SSH tunnel from local:50000 to remote:8080.
plink -ssh -N -C -L 50000: user@domain

3. Open WSAT on your machine using the same URL as above with a changed port number.
Monday, September 15, 2008 7:53:55 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
The article was helpful, although my path does not contain special characters. However, the thought came to my mind that there might also be a problem with spaces in the path. And... Yes, indeed!

That should be embarrassing for Microsoft since in german Windows XP environment, a path with a lot of spaces is used for Visual Studio files per default:
C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\username\Eigene Dateien\Visual Studio 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008 8:24:31 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Ah, o. k. Senaka Fernando also mentioned the spaces; now I have also read that. Thanks to Alexander and Senaka! :)
Thursday, June 25, 2009 12:42:51 PM (W. Europe Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)
Wow, Alexander
Amazing!, i can't believe i was banging my hear for about a month! for that ... i had this problem in only one website an it was because of names of the upper folders!
you are a savior!
Friday, March 18, 2011 12:30:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)
Did you crack the remote admin thing. I am looking for this also.
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