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Cannot browse network computer list

Posted on 2006-10-19
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
Im having a problem with a domain controller whereby it cannot browse the list of computers on the network.  If I open My Network Places, Entire Network, Microsoft Windows Network, <domain name> it lists absolutely nothing.  There is no problem with other computers on the network browsing the list and seeing it.  There is no problem with other computers on the network connecting to it's file shares or SQL Server.  On the domain controller I can type in \\<computer name> and it will show a list of all shares on that computer so it doesnt have problems seeing other computers when they specifically requested.
The problem with this is that my backup software (Backup Exec) cannot "see" the list of computers on the network now so I cannot edit or create new backup jobs that include remote machines.
Does anyone know what causes Windows to "go blind" like this?

Couple of things Ive tried with no success.
ipconfig /flushdns
Network Connection Repair

And it's not a configuration problem because this worked fine up until two days ago and no changes have been made to the network configuration on it.

Ive had this same problem on Windows XP PCs and either had to reboot the machine or release and renew it's IP address.  This isnt really a reliable option on a server obviously, so Im trying to find a root cause to keep it from happening in the first place rather just a way to fix it when it does happen.
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Question by:Wilbat
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Expert Comment

by:modathir
ID: 17766177
Network Connection Repair! is your Domain controller getting IP from DHCP?
How your DNS Setup? is it Local DNS on the domain controller & using forworder to ISP DNS?
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Author Comment

by:Wilbat
ID: 17766371
No, it has a static IP.  I used the connection repiar to try and flush DNS and WINS to make sure that wasnt the problem.  The DC is dual homed.  The internal NIC's DNS is pointed to another DC as the primary and to itself as the secondary.
The external NIC's DNS is pointed to the other DC as the Primary and uses a forwarder to ISPs DNS for secondary
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by:modathir
ID: 17766456
So, there is DNS installed on that server?
ok did you try nslookup tools? on that server just making sure your DNS can resolve names internal & external.
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Author Comment

by:Wilbat
ID: 17766520
no I didnt try that, but I have no problem browsing the internet so resolving expternally is no problem and I can go directly to other computers shares and or even list their shares if I browse that computer directly (\\COMPUTERNAME).  So that tells me it's not having a problem resolving names internally either.  Also, each of my client comuters is a remotely controllable via web browser, so again Im using a computer name to do that and it resolves fine.
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by:modathir
ID: 17766684
Install Support tools form your Window server 2003 CD & run from the command line netdaig & dcdaig
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by:Wilbat
ID: 17767253
I ran these on both DCs and compared them.  Other than the Messenger Service being disabled on the DC with the browsing problem there wasnt much of a difference except one other thing.  The DC that cannot browse had the following failed test when I ran dcdiag:

Starting test: frsevent
         There are warning or error events within the last 24 hours after the
         SYSVOL has been shared.  Failing SYSVOL replication problems may cause
         Group Policy problems.
         ......................... VISIONARY failed test frsevent

The only errors I could find in the Event Log where Browser errors (the Browser service not being able to contact the PDC)  There appears to have been a successful Browser sync since the last error though because an election was forced.
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by:CharliePete00
ID: 17767549
It happened to me years ago when I made the same mistake you have.  Is there any reason you need to use your ISPs DNS server in particular for name resolution?  You should have all clients point to your DCs for name resolution and your DCs point to themselves.  If a DC does is unable to resolve a request it will forward the request to the appropriate server in its root hints list like any other DNS server.
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by:CharliePete00
ID: 17767617
Your symtoms are exactly what you'd expect to see if DNS was completely forked.  Which it is, but in your case is easy to fix.  Try only listing the DC itself in the list of DNS servers on the Network Interface.
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Author Comment

by:Wilbat
ID: 17767656
Internal interface or external interface or both?
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Author Comment

by:Wilbat
ID: 17767681
I went ahead and removed the other DC from both interfaces in DNS.  Still no luck.
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CharliePete00 earned 500 total points
ID: 17768706
Sorry I missed that you were using your ISPs DNS server as a forwarder.  I do not recommend exposing a DC directly to the outside world as you have.  That said let's look at your problem.

DNS on multihomed DCs with forwarding gets a bit complicated.  The DC has no idea with interface to send DNS queries through and can end up using the wrong one for internal devices causing some name resolution to fail.  This can easily break AD on that DC.  I'm not sure this will work but I think it's your best shot.

I'd make sure your DC is only listening for DNS requests on the internal IF (Interface).

From the command-line:

dnscmd <DCs Name> /resetlistenaddresses <Internal IP Address>
ex: dnscmd MyDc /resetlistenaddresses 10.1.1.2

Reset forwarders and make sure the DC can perform recursive queries on its own:

From the command-line:

dnscmd  <DC Name> /resetforwarders <ISPs DNS Server IP Address> /noslave
ex: dnscmd MyDc /resetforwarders 4.2.2.1 /noslave

Now we'll add static routes for all internal subnets.  To make things easier we'll rename your network adapters as to Internal and External:

From the Network Connections window (Start > Control Panel > Network Connections):
1.  If necessary check tcp/ip properties > IP Address to find which interface is internal
2.  Right-click the internal interface and choose rename
3.  Name the internal interface Internal
4.  Repeat steps 1-3 for the external interface replacing internal with external

Now we'll add persistent routes for all internal subnets.  From the command-line:

1.  NETSH
2.  ROUTING IP RESET
3.  ROUTING IP ADDPERSISTENTROUTE <Internal Subnet Address> <Internal Subnet Mask> <Internal Interface Name>
     Example: routing IP addpersistentroute 192.168.1.0 255.255.255.0 internal
4.  Repeat step 3 for each additional internal subnet
5.  Add default gateway for the Internet:  ROUTING IP ADDPERSISTENTROUTE 0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 External

Then restart the "Network Location Awareness", "Computer Browser" and "File Replication Service" services
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Author Comment

by:Wilbat
ID: 17768820
I followed everything until step 3 on adding the persistent routes.
I typed this line 'routing IP addpersistentroute 10.0.0.0 255.255.255.0 internal'
but got:
The following command was not found: routing IP addpersistentroute 10.0.0.0 255.255.255.0 internal.

same thing when I tried adding the default gateway route
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Expert Comment

by:CharliePete00
ID: 17768958
Sorry I fumbled the space between ADD and PERSISTENTROUTE .

"routing ip addpersistentroute" should be
"routing ip add persistentroute"

My aplogies.
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Author Comment

by:Wilbat
ID: 17769078
OK, did all of that and Im still getting nothing listed when I look at the domain in My Network Places.
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Expert Comment

by:modathir
ID: 17769141
Restart your DNS Service on all DC's & try again
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Expert Comment

by:CharliePete00
ID: 17769259
And check the event log again for more File Replication service errors
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Author Comment

by:Wilbat
ID: 17769594
No File Replication errors, restarted both the DNS Server & DNS Client services on both DCs.
No luck.
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Expert Comment

by:CharliePete00
ID: 17775149
I would continue to check for FRS (file replication service) errors over the next few days.  AD relies on FRS for replication.  And the error you pointed out earlier meant that replication was broken for AD.  We haven't answered your question about browsing (and I'm out of suggestions on that) but it looks like we have fixed the problem with AD replication you didn't know tou had (a bonus).

If it helps I don't know of anyone in the business (IT) that has not at some point had trouble browsing the network.  As much as I've tried to fix it when it's not working my luck has been hit and miss.  It's become more of an annoyance for me and a possible indicator of other problems (like your DNS/FRS issue) than a real problem in itself.

Hopefully some out there has a better answer for you and if they do I want to know what it is.  If you don't get that answer by the end of the day I'd consider closing the question and reposting at a later date.

Good Luck!
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Author Comment

by:Wilbat
ID: 17775756
Well a good old fashioned reboot solved the problem for now.  Didnt have time to mess around with it too much, had to get my backup going again.  Thanks for your help though.
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