How to change the Internet Zone security level from High to Medium-Low in Windows Server 2008

Server Manager in Windows 2008
Figure 1 - Where is the Enhanced Security Configuration for Internet Explorer in Windows Server 2008 - Server Manager

Ever tried testing your application on Internet Explorer in a Windows Server environment and noticed that you just can’t browse like you do normally. In short, its “a pain in the ass”! (pardon my French) because IE just keeps buging you at every single URL that you enter – and not just once… but 3-4 times for a single website. And in order to see the looks of that website, you have to keep adding in the “trusted zone” in the dialog box that appears all the time! But anyway, enough of this whining now, lets get down to some business.

Well, today I was really determined to stop all those nonsensical security alerts so first I went to where common sense leads you to – Yeah you’re right, I went to the Internet Options –> Security Tab –> Internet Zone to turn down the security level. But when you go there, it appears disabled (grayed-out), so obviously you can’t change that like the way you’d usually expect! (Wonder why Microsoft did it that way?!?! But anyway…)

Lowering Internet Zone security level in Windows Server 2008
Figure 2 - Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration

So going to the good ol’ Google for help and reading a document on Microsoft, I cam to know that all you need to do, is to fire up Server Manager (usually it sits in the  Quick Launch bar but you can also go to Control Panel –> hit Classic view –> Programs and Features –> Turn Windows features on or off). Once you’re there, you’d see the screen similar to Figure 1 above. In that  just hit the link Configure IE ESC. Next up, you’d see the screen in figure 2 on the right. Just turn the IE Enhanced Security Configuration (IE ESC) off for the administrators. It is recommended however, that you do turn it back on when you put the server into production. After you’re done with that you can go back to Internet Explorer –> Internet Options –> Security tab –>Internet zone and bring it down to medium-low. Now you can browse as usual.

I hope you find this post useful although it seems like a very trivial issue yet its quite annoying when you’re in a hurry or something.

So keep the feedback coming in, I’d be more than
happy to hear from ya!





Author: Imran Akram

A .NET/SharePoint Consultant and a political enthusiast who believes in putting the feet of the elected and/or unelected officials to fire in order to get good governance.

36 thoughts on “How to change the Internet Zone security level from High to Medium-Low in Windows Server 2008”

  1. Thank you very much…this was driving me insane. I didn’t want to start modifying the registry unless I had to, so it’s nice to know MS put in something like this (although why they continue to handcuff administrators is mind boggling, security concerns or not…if someone’s going to hack it, they’re going to hack it…let the admins worry about that but give them the tools they need to do their jobs).

  2. Thanks a ton, I have been looking for this option for a while. Other posts I read didn’t tell where the Configure IE ESC was located, just that was where you turned it off. So, again thanks for showing us where it is.

  3. Thanks for this…I installed Server 2008 five months ago, and for five months I’ve been looking for the answer to this! Obviously, I was looking in the wrong place for the solution, lol.

  4. Hi Imram Akram, I am not sure if you can help or look at your blog anymore but:

    We have a Windows 2008 R2 server used for remote access and terminal services. So having ESC turned off is a must in order for the users to actually do anything in Internet Explorer. We have dozens of GPO’s to cope with security for our servers. However, whenever they browse the internet, almost any site they need to use blocks them and notifies them they need cookies enabled to continue. Windows 2008 R2 reports that ESC is turned off – so we went into GPO to modify IE settings for the default users which is the Internet Explorer Maintenance —> Security —> Security Zone and Privacy Settings.

    After clicking to import settings, we can’t slide the security zone bar up or down for the Internet Zone. I believe we can change the privacy stuff to allow cookies but I think we will run into more trouble because our internet zone is set to max with protected mode. I think this has something related to ESC (we verified that it ‘shows’ off), but do you know why we cant’ modify the security zones here?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi there,

      Its hard for me to say much from here since I haven’t worked with GPO’s in this regard but I think this problem may as well be caused by one group policy overwriting/overriding another one in the same domain perhaps. Or you should perhaps try to turn off ESC for users as well and see what it does. But do keep me posted as well when you do find a solution to this because its new for me as well 🙂

      All the best!

  5. This is excellent answer for Windows Server. But I recently had this happen automatically to my Windows 7 Pro installation (was fine before). The Internet Security Custom settings are all greyed out and I also cannot see the slider to move it from Med-High to Med. It has dissapeared. Because of this I cannot load java programs or other items at startup cannot run (connext, Logitech, etc.). Also cannot download even PDF files from Internet.

    Any help is appreciated. Extensive google searches are not working including the one about logging in as the “built-in” Administrator account.

    Multiple security scans show no viruses, spyware, or trojans.

    Thanks for the potential help.


    1. Thanks but I’m sorry I haven’t encountered it on Windows 7 pro so I can’t really comment on that

  6. Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  7. hi, I’m using IE9. Unfortunately, mine still stays at “Medium-high” after following through the steps. I need to set it to “Medium”. Can’t use the slider at all! Pls advise what I should do.

    1. I dont think it has any relation to the browser. I’ve been using IE9 on Win Server 2008 manytimes too. Try closing the browser and repeating these steps.

  8. Thanks Man !! it helped a lot 😀 almost i got b**ped off by this IE behaviour this helped me to come back into normal ie user 🙂 thanks for the tips its really awesome buddy

  9. HAHAHA thanks for that! This has also been one of those things that has wound me up for years. Micro$oft should just have an option when u first start IE to turn that off. Usually the first thing I ever did setting up[ a new server was to install Chrome. Thanks again for the great article 🙂

  10. Your post is still helping. Thanks! Been an issue with VMs I run for way too long and no one knew the answer.

  11. This didn’t really help me. I have IE Enhanced Security Mode disabled. The only thing that is “greyed out” is the slider. I can click custom settings and default.

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