Madrus's Webdings

Personal Notes on Web Development

Deploying Umbraco 7 to GoDaddy

TL;DR – I have seen a number of posts on the Umbraco forum with questions about deployment to GoDaddy hosting provider. Many of those questions stayed either unresolved or the author would give up trying and switch to another hosting provider.

In this article, I share my personal experience with GoDaddy deployment. It is written as a deployment walk-through based on one of my Umbraco web projects. I hope that following these steps, you also succeed in deploying your website to GoDaddy (and, for that matter, many other hosting providers).

Why bother?

Some time ago, I was looking for a hosting provider for my the Umbraco website I was working on. GoDaddy seemed to be a good condidate. They provided the Web Deploy Publishing Settings file that I could use in my Visual Studio 2015 to publish my website to their cloud similar to publishing to Microsoft Azure. I have had experience with Azure one-click deployments, so I decided to give it a try.

Unfortunately, deployment in this classic fashion failed on me time after time. I tried to follow the standard Visual Studio 2015 Web Deploy procedure (sent to me by a friendly GoDaddy rep):

  1. Open your application in Visual Studio and go to View > Other Windows > Solution Explorer.
  2. Right click on the website name and select Publish Website.
  3. Click the Import button and browse for the configuration file downloaded from Plesk.
  4. Enter the primary FTP password for the Plesk hosting account.
  5. Click Validate Connection to confirm you have the correct settings.

So far so good. The validation was successful. I would then start publishing by right clicking the project name in the solution and then on Publish. The usual dialog would appear and I would go through all the steps until Preview:

preview tab

When I clicked on the Publish button at the bottom, I would get this error every time:

deployment error

I must add that I would also get the same error when I clicked on the blue Preview database link although the connection itself would successfully validate.

I don’t need to explain that contacting GoDaddy as the server administrator brought nothing satisfying. They just pushed the responsibility back to Umbraco Service Desk.

At some point, I gave up on the classic “one-click” Web Deployment and started experimenting. Hereunder, I describe the solution I have found and still use every time. It only takes me about two minutes each time.


  1. Visual Studio 2015 Professional. You could probably also use its Community Editon, if it has SQL Server Object Explorer in it. You have to run Visual Studio as Administrator, which is necessary in order to be able to Publish.
  2. You have a working solution that shows the website when you run it e.g. with Ctrl-F5.
  3. If you don’t have or don’t want to use Visual Studio, you can deploy the files to GoDaddy via any FTP client, e.g. Mozilla’s Filezilla.
  4. IIS7. I use it to deploy locally first as my test deployment before publishing to GoDaddy. It is also handy if you are using both the Visual Studio and a separate FTP-client because you can copy (most of the) files of the local website to GoDaddy. (there are a couple of exceptions here)

Debug and Release

(Web) deployment can be done individually for each environment: e.g. Debug and Release. If necessary, one could create a new environment via Configuration Manager. For each environment, we need to configure the corresponding Web.config file.

Before deployment, it is necessary to stop the corresponding application pool and restart it again after deployment is finished.

Here are the examples of these files for Debug and Release.


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<configuration xmlns:xdt="">
    <remove name="umbracoDbDSN"/>
    <add name="umbracoDbDSN"
      connectionString="Data Source=SERVER\INSTANCE;Initial Catalog=my_backup_db;User ID=sql_user;Password=sql_password"
    <add key="Umbraco.ModelsBuilder.Enable" value="false"
         xdt:Transform="SetAttributes" xdt:Locator="Match(key)"/>
    <add key="Umbraco.ModelsBuilder.EnableApi"
         xdt:Transform="Remove" xdt:Locator="Match(key)"/>
    <add key="Umbraco.ModelsBuilder.ModelsMode"
         xdt:Transform="Remove" xdt:Locator="Match(key)"/>
    <compilation xdt:Transform="RemoveAttributes(debug)" />


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<configuration xmlns:xdt="">
    <remove name="umbracoDbDSN"/>
    <add name="umbracoDbDSN"
      connectionString="Data Source=godaddy_ip_address;Initial Catalog=my_godaddy_db;Persist Security Info=True;User ID=sql_user;Password=sql_password;TrustServerCertificate=False"
        xdt:Transform="SetAttributes" xdt:Locator="Match(name)"/>
    <add key="debugWebErrors" value="false"
         xdt:Transform="SetAttributes" xdt:Locator="Match(key)"/>
    <add key="EnableOptimizations" value="true"
         xdt:Transform="SetAttributes" xdt:Locator="Match(key)"/>
    <add key="Umbraco.ModelsBuilder.Enable" value="false"
         xdt:Transform="SetAttributes" xdt:Locator="Match(key)"/>
    <add key="Umbraco.ModelsBuilder.EnableApi"
         xdt:Transform="Remove" xdt:Locator="Match(key)"/>
    <add key="Umbraco.ModelsBuilder.ModelsMode"
         xdt:Transform="Remove" xdt:Locator="Match(key)"/>
    <compilation xdt:Transform="RemoveAttributes(debug)" />
    <customErrors defaultRedirect="GenericError.htm" mode="RemoteOnly" xdt:Transform="Replace">
      <error statusCode="500" redirect="InternalError.htm"/>


The transformations should reflect the targets of deployment, not the sources.

Make sure that system.codedom segment at the end of the Web.config is empty:

<!-- All is removed between the 2 tags-->

When creating publish profiles, it may be necessary to add the AutoParameterizationWebConfigConnectionStrings key, otherwise Publish may fail. (See the FAQ section.) For the local deployment to the localhost, you may choose to create the database with the same name as on GoDaddy and with the same user. Then with local deployment, we can deploy the website and the database incrementally as necessary.

Here are my web deployment settings for local deployment:

Local deployment - connection tab

Local deployment - settings tab

And these are the settings for the deployment to GoDaddy:

GoDaddy deployment - connection tab

GoDaddy deployment - settings tab

Notice that the Update database is checked only for the local deployment and not that of GoDaddy. That is because I am getting an unspecified error on the Preview database link in the Preview tab, and GoDaddy did not want to help me with this error. So, instead of doing it via Web Deploy, I am using the Data Comparison option of the SQL Server Object Explorer and then Update Target to push the changes to the website database on GoDaddy’s database server.


It is still important though to have the proper database configuration in the Web.Release.config file. In this way, you don’t have to change the deployed Web.config file and the remote website can connect to its database.

Here is the checklist of settings necessary for the deployment to GoDaddy:



Make sure that Web.config is UTF-8 without BOM encoded.

I usually use a separate Development database database for my Visual Studio Umbraco solution than the one for the local IIS website (Staging database). The Local Web Deployment seems to only synchronize the database schema changes and sometimes fails to synchronize data. I am not 100% sure if this is so indeed, and I have not searched this out. Feel free to skip the separate database data synchronization step below if you believe it does. It is called “Via data comparison, update the remote database”.

Local deployment

  • commit all changes
  • bump the label and label the production release
  • via SQL Server Object Explorer do Data Comparison and update the the local madrus4u_ed4udb database
  • switch to Release mode in Visual Studio
  • open the local IIS7 Manager and stop the relevant application pool
  • publish to the local IIS
  • if applicable, synchronize the data (see further) between the Dev and Staging databases.
  • in the local IIS7 Manager, start the relevant application pool
  • open your local website and test the functionality of the local deployment

Deployment to GoDaddy


  • Start the Visual Studio as Administrator and open your solution
  • Switch to the Release mode in your solution and build it to make sure everything is ok.
  • If you have not done so, commit your changes to Git and label your release.
  • download .user.ini file from GoDaddy
  • prepare Web.config for GoDaddy
  • keep copies of .user.ini and Web.config separately just in case (see FAQ section).

Stop the application pool in the Plesk panel

  • Go to Websites & Domains and click on Show more.
  • Find and click on the Dedicated IIS Application Pool for Your Website link:

    dedicated iis application pool

  • Click on Stop link:

    stop the iis application pool

  • The application pool stops and your website if off-line:

    stopped the iis application pool

Via schema comparison, update the remote database

This step in only necessary from time to time, e.g. when you make changes in your models or after Umbraco version upgrade.

  • Schema compare... => choose master database:

    start schema comparison

  • choose the target database in the right box:

    choose target database

  • click on Compare button:

    schema comparison

  • click on Update button and wait for success

Via data comparison, update the remote database

  • Data Comparison... => choose master database:

    start data comparison

  • choose remote database and click Finish:

    choose remote connection

  • check the differences and click Update Target:

    update remote target

    Click Refresh circular arrow and check if the Different Records column has all zeros. Run Update Target a couple of times if necessary.

    remote target identical

    You may close now the SqlDataCompare tab.

Publish the website (files only!) to GoDaddy

  • publish to GoDaddy (only the solution file, no database)

    publish to GoDaddy

    if everything went right, you will see success confirmation:

    publish success

    At the same time, you will probably see the browser start automatically and show Service Unavailable error message when opening your website URL:

    service unavailable

    This is ok, as the IIS application pool is still stopped.

  • in Plesk go to Files menu in Websites & Domains:

    Plesk File manager

  • click on httpdocs and you will see the familiar Umbraco directory structure:


  • check that you see your .user.ini file and upload and replace via Upload Files menu your production Web.config
  • choose App_Data and hover with your mouse at the right end of your yellow bar. A small round button will appear. Left click on it and choose Change Permissions:


    The Change Permissions screen will now open. Tick, if not checked, both Allow... and Replace permission entries... and click on Plesk IIS Worker Process Identity Account in the left column:


    Notice that Full Control on the right is not ticked.

  • Tick Allow checkbox on Full Control:


  • Do the same for Application pool group and click OK button.
  • Go back to Website & Domains and then to Dedicated IIS Application Pool again.
  • Click now the Start link:

    stopped the iis application pool

  • Congratulations! You are now up and running. Refresh the screen with 503 error. Don’t be surprised if the first time, immediately after starting or recycling the IIS application pool, you will have to wait - literally - maybe five minutes before the website loads. After that it loads in a breeze.


When deploying after upgrade 7.4 to 7.5, I have got this error:

server error


  • check Web.config for differences with the backup master Web.config
    • connection string (GoDaddy)
    • debugWebErrors = false
  • start the application pool
  • start the website, you will probably get the access rights errors
  • get rid of all error messages, if necessary recycle the Application pool again

Could not find part of the path

Could not open Source file: Could not find a part of the path J:\U\Ed4u\Ed4u\App_Plugins\LeBlender\Web.config;\App_Plugins\LeBlender\Web.config.


Find the deployment profile - Web Deploy.pubxml - Web Deploy.pubxml

and add the following key to the PropertyGroup section:


Access denied when doing local (file) deployment

You probably forgot to start Visual Studio as Administrator.


Start Visual Studio as Administrator and try again.

Access denied when starting the local IIS website after deployment

Access rights on App_Data directory.


  • Right click the App_Data directory of the deployed website and choose Security tab.
  • Edit permissions on the directory for IUSR and IIS_IUSRS and give them Full control. If you don’t see them, give this to the Users group.
  • Now, you should be able to start the website without permission errors.

Some further observations

  • most of the steps here are actually not GoDaddy specific (except the look-and-feel of course). I have used the same approach also with some other web hosting companies.

  • if you can’t deploy to your hosting provider directly from the Visual Studio (no access available) but your hosting provider has a file upload option in their control panel, you can first deploy locally to some directory. Replace the local Web.config with the one necessary for the remote web hosting environment, and then upload the whole directory. But don’t forget to synchronize the database data.

  • synchronize data has a second option, Generate script.... You can use it on your remote site if you have no remote database access.

  • synchronizing data as described hereabove makes it possible to synchronize changes made by content editors in the Staging or Production environment back to Development environment.

Final words

I would be very glad to know if this walk-though really helped somebody to deploy their website to GoDaddy. Please, leave your comment to let me know.

Any comments are more than welcome as I have never had a chance to discuss this document with anybody.