Networking / Beginners

Configuring WINS Resolution

You use WINS to resolve network basic input/output system (NetBIOS) computer names to IPv4 addresses. You can use WINS to help computers on a network determine the address of other computers on the network. If a WINS server is installed on the network, you can use the server to resolve computer names. Although WINS is supported on all versions of Windows, Windows Vista primarily uses WINS for backward compatibility.

You can also configure Windows Vista computers to use the local file LMHOSTS to resolve NetBIOS computer names. However, LMHOSTS is consulted only if normal name resolution methods fail. In a properly configured network, these files are rarely used. Thus, the preferred method of NetBIOS computer name resolution is WINS in conjunction with a WINS server.

As with gateways and DNS, the best way to configure WINS depends on the configuration of your network. If computers use DHCP, you'll probably want to configure WINS through settings on the DHCP server. If computers use static IPv4 addresses or you want to configure WINS specifically for an individual user or system, you'll want to configure WINS manually.

You can manually configure WINS by completing the following steps:

  1. Access the Advanced TCP/IP Settings dialog box and click the WINS tab. This displays the WINS Address, In Order of Use window.
  2. The WINS Addresses, In Order Of Use panel enables you to specify the IPv4 addresses of each WINS server that is used for NetBIOS name resolution. Click Add if you want to add a server IPv4 address to the list. Click Remove to remove a selected server from the list. Click Edit to edit the selected entry.
  3. You can specify multiple servers, which are used in order, for WINS resolution. If the first server isn't available to respond to a NetBIOS name resolution request, the next WINS server on the list is accessed, and so on. To change the position of a server in the list box, select it and then use the Up or Down arrow button.
  4. To enable LMHOSTS lookups, select the Enable LMHOSTS Lookup check box. If you want the computer to use an existing LMHOSTS file defined somewhere on the network, retrieve this file by clicking Import LMHOSTS. You generally will use LMHOSTS only when other name resolution methods fail.
  5. WINS name resolution requires NetBIOS Over TCP/IP services. Select one of the following options to configure WINS name resolution using NetBIOS:
    • If you use DHCP and dynamic addressing, you can get the NetBIOS setting from the DHCP server. Select Default: Use NetBIOS Setting From The DHCP Server.
    • If you use a static IP address or the DHCP server does not provide NetBIOS settings, select Enable NetBIOS Over TCP/IP.
    • If WINS and NetBIOS are not used on the network, select Disable NetBIOS Over TCP/IP. This eliminates the NetBIOS broadcasts that would otherwise be sent by the computer.
  6. Click OK three times and then click Close. As necessary, repeat this process for other network adapters.

Tip: LMHOSTS files are maintained locally on a computer-by-computer basis, which can eventually make them unreliable. Rather than relying on LMHOSTS, ensure that your DNS and WINS servers are configured properly and are accessible to the network for centralized administration of name resolution services.

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