Greg Gore is Vice President of Praxis International, Inc.
Technical Training, Consulting, and Publishing since 1988



How to Use and Install the Microsoft Personal Web Server
Greg Gore


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The Microsoft Personal Web Server 4.01 (PWS) is a very useful tool for developing and testing web pages and web sites on your personal computer before uploading them to an offsite Internet web server. PWS can also be used effectively by individuals, organizations and corporations to publish web pages on intranets.

PWS is designed to run on computers using Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT 4.0 Workstation. PWS is not included or supported with Windows Me or Windows XP Home Edition. However, Microsoft says “advanced” users may be able to install and run PWS for testing purposes on Windows Me. (For more information, see article Q266456 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base found at Another product, Internet Information Server (IIS) is recommended for Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP Professional.

I started using PWS to test web pages I prepared using Microsoft FrontPage 2000. I quickly became aware that web pages containing FrontPage features such as confirmation fields, hit counters, search forms and form handlers could not be previewed correctly unless they were published to a web server using the Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions. In addition, I wanted to able to work with databases and I needed some way to test CGI scripts.

PWS solves these problems. I installed PWS on my personal computer running Windows 98. PWS is actually a part of the Windows 98 package and the setup files can be found on the Windows 98 CD-ROM in the Add-ons\PWS folder. In my case, Windows 98 was pre-installed on my Compaq Presario, so I did not have a Windows 98 CD-ROM. However, I was able to locate the setup files in the \windows\options\cabs\pws folder.

Once you have found the pws folder, installation is just a matter of double-clicking the setup program. If you have trouble finding the PWS setup files, go to article Q306898 “How to install the Microsoft Personal Web Server,” and click on the link for information on how to obtain PWS.

The PWS setup dialog walks you through the setup procedure with the typical options you find on most Microsoft products: license agreement, type of installation (minimum, typical, or custom), default directory location, etc.

After you make decisions on all of your configuration options, the setup programs installs the correct files for your configuration and the end result should be that you see the successful completion dialog box. Once this appears, you are asked if you want to restart your computer.

If you click, “Yes,” your computer will restart and you will see the PWS icon on your taskbar. As part of the installation process, PWS is configured to be in the “Start” mode, that is, PWS is running when you start your computer. If you right-click on the PWS icon you will see “Start Service,” “Stop Service,” “Pause Service,” “Continue Service,” and “Properties.”

By clicking on “Properties,” you will be directed to the main screen of the Personal Web Manager. From this screen, you can set your service options, view your default home page, create a new home page, view statistics, take a tour, and access advanced functions such as file and directory maintenance.

I recommend that you begin by taking the tour of PWS. After your tour, click on “Web Site,” and the Home Page Wizard will help you create a new home page complete with guest book and drop box where visitors to your site can leave you a private message.

Another wizard, the Publishing Wizard launches when you click the “Publish” button. The Publishing Wizard makes it easy to publish web files to the Internet.

I did encounter two installation problems with PWS. First, because my registry was apparently too large, an error message came up saying, “An unknown error occurred …” This is evidently a fairly common problem and article Q246081 showed me how to correct it. Second, PWS installed older FrontPage Server Extensions that did not work with FrontPage 2000. Article Q210865 addresses this problem and gave me the solution.

Overall, PWS is a “must-have” product for me because it enables me to test web pages on my own computer before I upload them to an offsite web server.


The Greg Gore Web Site on Computers and the Internet (

This column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on April 24, 2002. Greg Gore can be reached at

© 2009 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.