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Services Utility: Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) Service

Display Name (?): Windows Internet Name Service (WINS)
Short Name (?): WINS
Executable (?): wins.exe
Library (?): None.
Depends On (?): COM+ Event System, Event Log, NT LM Security Support Provider, Remote Procedure Call (RPC), Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Service, Security Accounts Manager
Supports (?): None.
Description (?): Resolves NetBIOS names for TCP/IP clients by locating network services that use NetBIOS names. If this service is stopped, network NetBIOS services will not function properly. If this service is disabled, any services that explicitly depend on it will fail to start.
OS (?): NT4 Workstation, 2000 Professional, XP Home/Professional, Vista Home/Business, NT4 Server, 2000 Server, Server 2003, Vista Server
Startup (?):

Explanation (?):

The Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) is used in negotiating NetBIOS broadcasts. This service was designed for domain controllers so that it can control name assignments used for communications between workstations and servers.

The server message block (SMB) protocol is the mechanism used for Windows based communication tasks, such as Windows File/Printer sharing. SMB relies on NetBIOS over IP or over IPX, or through NetBEUI. The SMB protocol has many names, but it is commonly called the LAN Manager protocol, but previously had been called the core protocol.

When a Windows based computer becomes active on a network it broadcasts its NetBIOS name to the local network segment. This means that it sends the network name it has been assigned to all computers on the localized network with information about itself, such as its NetBIOS name and it's MAC address. The computers on the network are designed to listen to these broadcasts. When a computer wishes to find another computer by its NetBIOS name then it sends a broadcast meant for the master browser that is expected to have the most up to date browse list. If a master browser server becomes unavailable, like if it is turned off, then the computers on the network hold elections to determine a new master browser. For fallback purposes several computers for every master browser are designated as a backup browser.

The NetBIOS protocol is considered wasteful and very noisy because it deals with broadcasts rather than direct communications, and it doesn't route between network segments. To get around these pitfalls a WINS server can be established to handle NetBIOS over TCP/IP. A WINS server is meant to be the dedicated master browser, which eliminates the need for elections. This computer keeps a list of NetBIOS names, IPs and MAC addresses, and with this information it can coordinate communications for the SMB protocol. A server running as a NT Domain COntroller (DC) is instantly the master browser and is typically expected to be running as a WINS server. Active Directory based NT domain controllers were designed to use DNS for SMB communications to fix the flaws found with NetBIOS, but AD still can use NetBIOS to work with legacy clients, such as Windows 95/98/Me.

If this service is disabled then the computer cannot act as a WINS server. This means computers that rely on this service will be unable to store and retrieve NetBIOS names from it. As a fallback the workstations could rely on master browsers. But, a domain should always have a dedicated WINS server. This server should be left on automatic for domain servers, unless another WINS server exists. You should not have this service if you are not running a Windows server version.

Please visit /tools/services/ for the complete Services utility.