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Back To Basics: WINS Replication Networks

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Nov 12, 2000


Thomas Shinder

WINS? WINS! How many administrators and students have pulled their respective hair out regarding the topic of WINS? It seems that everyone has a general idea of what WINS is, and most even understand why its good to have a WINS Server on your network. However, the implementation leaves a lot of people lost.

WINS? WINS! How many administrators and students have pulled their respective hair out regarding the topic of WINS? It seems that everyone has a general idea of what WINS is, and most even understand why its good to have a WINS Server on your network. However, the implementation leaves a lot of people lost.

WINS, or the Windows Internet Name Service, provides a method to resolve NetBIOS names to IP addresses. Microsoft networking has historically been focused on NetBIOS. On a NetBIOS network, the logical endpoint of communications is the NetBIOS name, not the IP address. The overwhelming major of Microsoft Server programs, and core networking components, have been written to the NetBIOS interface. Until Windows 2000, just about all core networking components were NetBIOS.

The problem with NetBIOS is that it is broadcast based. NetBIOS applications will broadcast a NetBIOS Name Query Request in order to find the location of the destination host. This was fine for small networks, but as networks became larger, the broadcast traffic had a profound negative impact network performance.

WINS allows you to get around the problem of broadcasts for name resolution and name registration. Communication between WINS servers and WINS clients is via directed datagrams, rather than broadcasts. This directed communication approach significantly reduces the amount of NetBIOS related activity on your Network.

However, WINS is a distributed database. All WINS Servers must act together in harmony and share the information in the WINS database. This can become a complicated process, and is often not planned at all, or planned via poorly.

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