Name Resolution in a Windows Environment
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2003
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To ensure successful communication on a TCP/IP network,
you will need a way to call your systems by name and get
back the appropriate IP address. Although commonly
advocated, there is no need to run NETBEUI on your
Windows network. It is a broadcast protocol -- it is
chatty and non-routable and only useful if you don't
want to connect to the Internet at all.
While NT/2000 handles multiple protocols rather nicely,
and provides a nice mechanism to ensure binding order,
Win9x/ME is far less accommodating, and does not handle
the increased resource consumption.
NetBIOS support, which is what you should be using for
legacy Windows communication, can be tunneled over
TCP/IP in Win95 and later OSes.
If you are unable to get Windows9x machines to talk to
each other or to NT/2000/XP systems without installing
NetBEUI, then it is very likely that you have not setup
NetBIOS Name Resolution for your client systems.
For peer-to-peer systems, the requirement of using the
same workgroup name across all machines is important if
you want to see them easily in Network Neighborhood, but
it is not important if you already know the names of the
machines you want to connect to. The only other thing
you will want to have in place is some name resolution
system (such as DNS, WINS, HOSTS file or LMHOSTS file).
Using NETBEUI will allow you to find machines names by
broadcast, rather than with any of the other name
NETBIOS VS NETBEUI
Many folks confuse NETBIOS and NETBEUI. The former,
is a program (API) developed by IBM which allows
applications on a LAN to communicate. The latter is a
chatty, non-routable protocol originally used by
LAN Manager, and subsequent by Windows, to provide the
frame and data format for NetBIOS traffic.
NetBEUI = NetBIOS Extended User Interface
Under Windows, NetBIOS can be transported over other
protocols such as IPX and TCP/IP. With Windows 2000,
Microsoft networks are no longer dependent on NetBIOS
for communication, although you still need it for
browsing Network Neighborhood.
NAME RESOLUTION METHODS
Windows systems use the following Name Resolution
facilities for mapping Host or NetBIOS names to IP
- Host Name Resolution
HOSTS ..... Static
DNS ....... Dynamic
- NetBIOS Name Resolution
LMHOSTS ... Static
WINS ...... Dynamic
DNS ....... Dynamic*
HOSTS ..... Static (with NT/2000/XP)
NOTE: To use DNS for resolving NetBIOS names, you must
go into the TCP/IP properties in the Control Panel
and enable "Use DNS for Windows Resolution"
Proper name resolution is essential for fast network
communication. If DNS or WINS (or HOST or LMHOSTS files)
are not correctly configured, your network will drag and
users will be annoyed.
In place of DNS, you can configure each machine with a
HOSTS file. In place of WINS, use an LMHOSTS file.
These files are located in the following location:
• Win9x/ME ............... %windir% (usually C:\WINDOWS)
• NT/2000/XP ............. %SystemRoot%\System32\Drivers\ETC
NOTE: Both the "HOSTS" and "LMHOSTS" files lack any file
extensions. You can start with the HOSTS.SAM and
LMHOSTS.SAM files and save them without extension
(use quotes, if saving in Notepad).
OTHER NETWORKING RESOURCES
WHITEPAPERS & TECH DOCUMENTS
ADDITIONAL SEARCH OPTIONS (MS KB)
EXACT PHRASE ........... "Host Name Resolution"
ALL WORDS .............. "Name Resolution"
ALL WORDS .............. "SMB NetBIOS"
• Remember to keep NetBIOS traffic on your internal
network ONLY. There is no need to allow NetBIOS
traffic to traverse the Internet.
• Windows uses SMB (Server Message Block) to provide
File and Printer sharing. Unlike previous versions
of Windows, Windows 2000 and later can use SMB
directly over TCP/IP, without the need for NetBIOS.
• A correctly configured DNS infrastructure is essential
to the proper operation of Active Directory.
• NetBIOS (not NetBEUI) is still needed on a peer-to-peer
network that uses Network Neighborhood to browse for
local/remote resources. In an Active Directory
environment with no legacy apps, you could forgo
NetBIOS entirely with XP/2000/2003 machines.
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