LMHOSTS File and the Hex Characters in Postion 16

I am in need of setting up a lmhosts file.  In searching for examples and "how to", I have come across several examples showing names with the padded spaces and position 16 contains a "0x1b" hex character.  What I have read just doesn't explain very well the reason for this format.

A simpler answer would be appreciated if some one could manage to do this for my weak, overloaded brain!

Actually, I am having a VPN NetBIOS name resolution problem for the client that has tunneled into the main office.  The Master Browser in the main office has an IP address of  It works, but takes several minutes for all the machines with shares to show up on the Network Neighborhood to show up.  In Expert Exchange, I have been told to use lmhosts.

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The reason for the padding is that the NetBIOS names are in fact all 16 characters long; the 16th character is used to tell which service to address on the target machine.
NetBIOS Suffixes (16th Character of the NetBIOS Name)
But what you need for faster Network Neighborhood browsing is a WINS server. Entries in the lmhosts file will allow you to find a host by using the NetBIOS name, but it won't make any entries in the browse list.
RayRiderAuthor Commented:

If a Master Browser is running on the office network, and if that machine is visable from the remote VPN client (answers the Ping), how does one get the Master Browser on the remote client to communicate with the Master Browser in the office?  The office machine should have all the local LAN machines in its browser cache - At least, that is what nbtstat -c shows.  Why is a WINS server necessary?

It's very hard to see the big picture in this VPN world.  If I have an established tunnel between the two endpoints, isn't the remote machine just an extension of the office LAN?  Shouldn't the NetBIOS name resolution be the same just as if the remote machine was in the office LAN?

I am bumping the points to 500 if you can explain this to me in a fashion I can understand.  I know I am a dummy in this area, but give it a try!

If you're using the Network Neighborhood browsing, you need a WINS server to keep the NetBIOS broadcasts from stuffing your network, and to get reliable NetBIOS name resolution. It's not difficult to setup, and it should resolve your browsing problem as well.
Here are some KB articles about browsing:

Common Questions About Browsing with Windows

How browsing browsing over a multi-subnet TCP/IP network works in a domain and in a workgroup

Domain Browsing with TCP/IP and LMHOSTS Files

Information on Browser Operation

Description of the Microsoft Computer Browser Service

List of Names Registered with WINS Service

Troubleshooting the Microsoft Computer Browser Service

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RayRiderAuthor Commented:

That is a lot of information!  The quest, now, is for me to understand it all so I can configure this network to speed-up the VPN process.  However, in all this information, nothing was there to explain how to setup a WINS server.

The office is running a Win Server 2003.  I am sure that can be configured as a WINS server.  This is a very large dental clinic where all (9) Operatories, plus administrative areas are totally run by workstations (24) to provide applications.  I am hesitant to do anything except to call in a hgher level analyst.  Otherwise, if I kill the network installing WINS, none of these Operatories will work since they rely on the server to provide xrays and patient information as everything is automated.  The several doctors there want to VPN remotely to look at patient information.

Nothing is wrong with anything except the remote clients VPNing take too long to access the dental application.  But, it will eventually work.  If I kill the network, I am DEAD MEAT!  I have a fairly decent background, but never have worked with VPN, or had to worry about WINS.  One thing common in my search for an answer is most people in the help sites are asking the same questions.  However, I don't see any answers for those folks, either.  Enought moaning!

I have "accepted" your answer since the links you have compiled required much time.  Thanks for your help.

hey oBdA,

where can I find information about using WINS for faster browsing?  I've never heard that before.
Just to avoid confusion: "Browsing" as in browsing the network neighborhood, not browsing with IE.
The network neighborhhod completely relies on NetBIOS; if you don't have a WINS server, name resolution will be done by broadcasts. Broadcasts will always be slower than a directed name query, not to mention that a browser list based on broadcasts tends to be incomplete; and then there's the usual network congestion that comes with broadcasts.

here's how to do it for Windows 2000 (there used to be an article for Server 2003 as well, but for whatever reason, it's no accessible anymore), Server 2003 isn't really any different. The WINS installation will only install the WINS service (and the administration tool); it's a basic Windows component, and shouldn't cause any problems. Make sure the WINS server points to itself (only) as WINS server (TCP/IP properties/Advanced/WINS). Your clients will have to use it, too, obviously. If you have another DC, you might install a secondary WINS server at some point and let the two replicate. (Note: if you setup a second WINS server, do NOT let them point to each other as secondary WINS server; a WINS server should only point to itself for WINS!)

HOW TO: Install Network Services Such as WINS and DNS in Windows 2000
oh ok.  I thought you meant that using WINS will populate the browse list quicker.
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