Hosting on Machines with Multiple Addresses

I have a machine with multiple network cards. How do I control which networks my service listens on?

The answer to this question is going to be specific to the transport that you're using. I'll cover the HTTP and TCP transports that WCF ships with. Talking about addresses for the named pipe transport is less interesting because we don't allow remote connections with our named pipes! With custom transports, you're on your own and will have to contact the author.

The TCP transport is very liberal with wildcarding addresses. When given a choice of multiple addresses for a machine, it will listen on all of them. To change this, you need to prevent the transport from having this choice. Here are the two things that you will need to do. First, make sure that the HostNameComparisonMode property for the transport is set to Exact. HostNameComparisonMode controls the address wildcard and the Exact option means that the hostname and port have to match exactly. Second, change the listening address of the service from a hostname to an explicit IP address. This guarantees that you'll get the specific network address that you want. Now, you've removed all choice from matching the address of the service, and you have a service that only listens on a single one of your multiple addresses.

The HTTP transport is a little bit more flexible with wildcarding because it can leverage a feature built into the platform for HTTP. The HTTP.SYS driver allows you to define an IP Listen List that contains a particular set of IP addresses to listen on for HTTP connections. If you don't have a listen list configured, then by default the HTTP transport will be listening on all of the available network addresses, exactly like the TCP transport. The same technique for listening on just a single address with HostNameComparisonMode works for HTTP as it did for TCP.

Finally, I thought it important to mention that just about every computer these days has multiple IP addresses- even if you don't have multiple network cards. You have a loopback IP address ( for IPv4) that always corresponds to local connections and a real IP address from your network adapter. This means that you have everything you need to craft a "local machine"-only service even when not using named pipes. The guarantee when doing this is a little bit weaker than the one we make for named pipes though. We block remote users that are going through a local intermediary from named pipes by filtering on the origin of the account login. These users will not be stopped by restricting a service to the loopback address.

Next time: Manual Addressing