How to handle IIS Event id 1009 (Event id 5011 on IIS 7)

Recently at work we had some serious production environment issues. Our web application basically made the IIS application pool terminate unexpectedly. And we didn’t get a single stack trace or a line of code. The only thing that was logged inside of the Windows Event Viewer, was event id 1009, which basically told that the application pool serving our app terminated unexpectedly. And that was it. All active user sessions were wiped, and the users had to login again.

The error started after we did a major upgrade. A lot of our code had changed since the previous version, so we set up an new website and application pool inside IIS 6.0 for the new version, so we could upload the new application, and then turn off the old one, to get as seamless an upgrade as possible. It worked fine, and we were happy. Until a few hours later, when we saw our users were logged off.

At first we thought it was IIS settings we had done wrong, so we did a complete comparison with the old website and application pool to see if we forgot anything. There was no difference at all. After a while, we realized that the only thing that could make the IIS crash like that, was our own code. But with no clue of where the danger in our code were – we were lost.

After some time, we got WinDbg attached to the worker process of IIS, serving our application. We caught a few memory dumps, but those were not of the exception we were looking for.

Later I found an HttpModule for ASP.NET. Basically the .Net framework 2.0 has changed the way it handles exceptions from other threads in IIS. In ASP.NET 1.1, unhandled exceptions from asynchronous threads inside IIS were ignored. But in ASP.NET 2.0, those unhandled exceptions makes the IIS application pool crash.

Make the IIS crash yourself

So try to do this. Create a new ASP.NET 2.0 website running on your local IIS. You only need a single page, so you’re fine with the default.aspx Visual Studio creates for you. Add a button to the page, and create an event handler for the buttons OnClick event.

Add this to your code-behind:


/// Handles the Click event of the btnMakeCrash control./// /// The source of the event./// The EventArgs instance containing the event data.protectedvoid btnMakeCrash_Click(object sender, EventArgs e) { ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem(new WaitCallback(MakeIisCrash)); } /// /// Makes the IIS crash./// /// The state info.privatevoid MakeIisCrash(object stateInfo) { // Instantiate the DataSet to null DataSet ds = null; // Make an unhandled NullReferenceException ds.CaseSensitive = true; }

The buttons click event handler uses the ThreadPool to execute the MakeIisCrash() method. This method instantiates a DataSet as null, and the sets a property. Since the DataSet is null, this throws a NullReferenceException which is not handled, as you can see.

Click the button, and see how IIS will crash.

You can sense that your computer is working harder – that is because IIS terminates the application pool. If you go and check the Windows Application log, you can see that is has added an error:


Now this doesn’t tell you much. Imagine if you had hundreds of thousands line of code – how would you find the cause of the error?

Inside Visual Studio, add a new class to the website – call it UnhandledExceptionModule, and apply this code:

#region Using using System; using System.Diagnostics; using System.Globalization; using System.IO; using System.Runtime.InteropServices; using System.Text; using System.Threading; using System.Web; #endregion///

/// Handles all unhandled exceptions from in the current AppDomain. /// /// Works great to catch unhandled exceptions thrown by IIS's child threads, /// which will make the application pool terminate unexpectedly /// without logging. This makes sure your Exception/// is logged to the Application event log./// publicclass UnhandledExceptionModule : IHttpModule { #region Fields privatestaticint _UnhandledExceptionCount = 0; privatestaticstring _SourceName = null; privatestaticobject _InitLock = newobject(); privatestaticbool _Initialized = false; #endregion#region IHttpModule members publicvoid Init(HttpApplication app) { // Do this one time for each AppDomain.if (!_Initialized) { lock (_InitLock) { if (!_Initialized) { string webenginePath = Path.Combine(RuntimeEnvironment.GetRuntimeDirectory(), "webengine.dll"); if (!File.Exists(webenginePath)) { thrownew Exception(String.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, "Failed to locate webengine.dll at '{0}'. This module requires .NET Framework 2.0.", webenginePath)); } FileVersionInfo ver = FileVersionInfo.GetVersionInfo(webenginePath); _SourceName = string.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, "ASP.NET {0}.{1}.{2}.0", ver.FileMajorPart, ver.FileMinorPart, ver.FileBuildPart); if (!EventLog.SourceExists(_SourceName)) { thrownew Exception(String.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, "There is no EventLog source named '{0}'. This module requires .NET Framework 2.0.", _SourceName)); } AppDomain.CurrentDomain.UnhandledException += new UnhandledExceptionEventHandler(OnUnhandledException); _Initialized = true; } } } } publicvoid Dispose() { } #endregion#region UnhandledException event handler publicvoid OnUnhandledException(object o, UnhandledExceptionEventArgs e) { // Let this occur one time for each AppDomain.if (Interlocked.Exchange(ref _UnhandledExceptionCount, 1) != 0) return; StringBuilder message = new StringBuilder("\r\n\r\nUnhandledException logged by UnhandledExceptionModule:\r\n\r\nappId="); string appId = (string)AppDomain.CurrentDomain.GetData(".appId"); if (appId != null) { message.Append(appId); } Exception currentException = null; for (currentException = (Exception)e.ExceptionObject; currentException != null; currentException = currentException.InnerException) { message.AppendFormat("\r\n\r\ntype={0}\r\n\r\nmessage={1}\r\n\r\nstack=\r\n{2}\r\n\r\n", currentException.GetType().FullName, currentException.Message, currentException.StackTrace); } EventLog Log = new EventLog(); Log.Source = _SourceName; Log.WriteEntry(message.ToString(), EventLogEntryType.Error); } #endregion }

Modify the httpModules section inside web.config to look lige this:

<add type="UnhandledExceptionModule" name="UnhandledExceptionModule"/>

This is your new friend. It is a must for any ASP.NET 2.0 application running in production environment. This will catch your exception, and write the message and the stack trace to the Windows Application Event log, and now you can see what caused the crash:


So after we applied this HttpModule to our production environment, we get a nice entry in our Application event log from ASP.NET. It includes a stack trace, which makes us able to find the problem, and fix it!

Further reading regarding ASP.NET production environment issues:

Hope this will help someone.

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