Data Centers

Consider running the browser service on Windows Server 2008 DCs

Although NetBIOS is reportedly on the way out, it is still a critical part of most Windows Server environments. Rick Vanover explains why, in some configurations, the browser service should be running to facilitate NetBIOS.

Many Windows administrators, myself included, are trying to stop using NetBIOS and switch to DNS exclusively for name resolution. But under certain situations, a Windows Server 2008 domain controller may not display networks correctly when browsing the network. (Read more details about these situations in a TechNet team member's blog.)

For Windows Server 2008 installations, the computer browser is disabled by default, and dcpromo does not change the configuration of the service when Active Directory is installed. The network browsing is convenient for drive mappings and quick access to systems, and this browsing depends on the short name features of NetBIOS.

One way to correct these computer display issues is to configure the computer browser service to be an automatic starting service. There are a number of ways to do this, including the sc command. Figure A shows the sc command used to configure the service to be automatic and then immediately start the computer browser service. Figure A

Figure A

If you have this configuration for domain controllers running, the flexible single master operation (FSMO) role can prevent the browse-ready computers from being removed from display. However, this service has been set with a default state of Disable and should only be changed if your browse-ready list of computers is shrinking or is only a local subnet.

NetBIOS resolution is handy except for very large Active Directory networks. Larger networks are better use the Windows Server 2008 GlobalNames zone.

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Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

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