Setting folder permissions using Web Deploy

Learn how to set folder permissions to your ASP.NET projects when using Web Deploy

I was running into a very odd problem recently: I couldn't upload files to my website because of an error saying that I didn’t have permission to write files into the App_Data folder. I’ve decided to look into it and I realized that it began since I started using Web Deploy.

For those unfamiliar with Web Deploy I will tell you something: This is the best deployment tool for ASP.NET websites so far. It checks the files before you send to the server so it will send only those which had some change, publish entire databases and even pre-populate the tables.

The problem is that Web Deploy resets all folder permissions, which basically broke my file upload. And since ELMAH couldn't log the errors I spent some time thinking that my website was running flawlessly perfect. Silly me...

The solution I found was to create a .targets file in order to set the permissions during the deployment time. Let’s see how to do it:

  1. Create a .wpp.targets file in the root of your web project. You may not find this file in your File -> New window. In that case just create a normal Text File, change the extension and add XML content in it, as you can see in the gist below:
  2. Set the permissions to the folders you want. In my case, the App_Data was just enough but you can add other folders as well (lines 15 to 29).
  3. Deploy through Web Deploy. A very simple explanation of this step: When you deploy the MSBuild will run, pass through the .targets file you’ve created and set the permissions to the folders you’ve defined.

You might keep some things in mind:

  • Visual Studio caches the .targets files, which means that you will have to restart Visual Studio every time you want to make changes and see the effects when you are building the deployment package.
  • The package will not be rebuild unless you actually make changes in the .targets file.
  • Remember to always use Clean Solution in case you want to rebuild the deployment package.

For more information visit the Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi’s website.