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Configure the Computer Browser service

If you use the Computer Browser service, this tip will show you some ways to tweak the configuration.

We introduced you to Windows NT's Computer Browser service in a previous article and explained the different roles that computers can assume. Now, let's look at how to tweak this service.

NT performs most browsing tasks automatically without any help from the administrator. The election process, which determines which computer will function as the master browser, takes place when the following occurs.

  • The primary domain controller (PDC) boots up.
  • A backup browser is unable to obtain an updated browse list from the existing master browser.
  • A computer is unable to obtain a list of backup browsers from the master browser.

The master browser is the only elected role. As we explained last time, the domain master browser is always the PDC. If the PDC is unavailable, there is no domain master browser.

There are times when you might want to modify this behavior and interfere with the browsing process. You can do so by tweaking two registry entries. Open the Registry Editor, and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Browser\Parameters\.

MaintainServerList
Yes is the default setting for all Windows NT domain controllers. This configures the computer to function as a backup browser or a master browser.

Setting this entry to No configures the computer to function as a nonbrowser. Selecting Auto configures the computer to become a potential browser, backup browser, or a master browser. This is the default for all Windows NT servers that are not domain controllers.

IsDomainMaster
The default setting for all Windows NT computers is False. Setting this value to True assigns the computer a higher election criteria value than it would normally have, giving the computer an advantage in a browser election. This can cause it to become the master browser if all other computers use the same operating system.

Note: Editing the registry is risky, so be sure you have a verified backup before making any changes.

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