5. Common Misconceptions and Configuration Problems

As our experience of WINS increases, we are becoming more aware of common misconceptions, and problematic configurations. Here are some of them.

5.1. Misconceptions

The central WINS service means that I don't need to follow the naming conventions
FALSE The WINS servers will not allow duplicate names to be registered, but they do not prevent machines from trying to register duplicate names. There used to be several primary domain controllers called SERVER. Only one could use the central WINS service. Any others who wanted to use the central WINS service would first need to be renamed (in fact we did have to rename one of them.)

If I configure a PC with both a primary and secondary WINS server, it will register its name with both
FALSE The PC will attempt to register its name with the primary WINS server. If it fails it will try the secondary, and so on until it succeeds. However in the case of name resolution, certainly for newer operating systems it will request name resolution from the secondary if the name is not present in the database of the primary

Configuring a PC to use WINS means that it will not use broadcasts
FALSE TCP/IP broadcasts are generally stopped at routers. However a PC configured to use WINS will still use broadcasts on its local subnet, both for name resolution, and to announce its presence. Any PC configured to use WINS servers will generally operate in hybrid mode. That means that when resolving names, it will query the WINS servers first and broadcast if that fails. This can be altered by means of a registry key but is generally best left as it is.

5.2. Configuration Problems

  • Configuring primary and secondary WINS servers on a machine that has a WINS server installed. If you run your own Windows-based WINS servers, then on any server that is running WINS you should configure both the primary and secondary WINS server entries to point to itself. This is because regardless of what you put in these fields, the server will eventually end up registering with itself. However, when it first boots up, because the WINS server starts after some of the services try to register with it, if you configure it with different primary or secondary WINS servers it will initially put some entries into the database on one of these servers. This is called split registration and can lead to unexpected results with name resolution. If it is configured only with its own address it will keep retrying the registrations until they succeed.
  • Failing to configure a multihomed static entry for a multihomed host. If a static entry is put into the WINS database for a multihomed computer, but the entry is not entered as multihomed, and the PC concerned is using the same WINS database to register services and resolve NetBIOS names, there will be a name clash. Multihomed computers must have multihomed static entries (or no static entries at all)

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