401 Unauthorized from a content publishing site

New job, new problem. We’ve a SharePoint 2010 Publishing site using content deployment to push content from an authoring site collection to a live one – and the live site collection started to return an HTTP 401 – Unauthorized to any request for a page.

At first we weren’t able to log into the live site collection, and this made matters harder. It turned out that all authentication methods in IIS – so digest, Form, basic, etc. – had been disabled. When we turned one of those back on, we were prompted to log in – and could finally access the published content. However, that’s not exactly useful for a public facing web site. Anonymous users can’t all log in!

Next up, we checked anonymous access on the site collection – and it was turned off. We turned it back on, and disabled all authentication methods in IIS again, as this seemed a useful way to prevent people logging in. And now anonymous users could access the site.

Now, why that anonymous access was turned off isn’t clear. We didn’t do it, and due to authentication being turned off I doubt the customer did it. The best I can figure is that this is due to a problem in content deployment – that it’s reset anonymous access to ‘off’.

Edit: I could only find one reference to someone having a similar issue, and it sounded a bit different.

401 Unauthorized from a content publishing site

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