Network Discovery with VPN

ADVANCE-ELECTRONICS
ADVANCE-ELECTRONICS used Ask the Experts™
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On Windows Vista, if I create a PPTP (Windows) VPN to a office hardware firewall that is configured as a PPTP VPN server, I cannot see or access the office network computers.  Everything is in the same workgroup and I can ping any of the office computers.  My biggest concern is the remote Windows 2003 server.  If I check the IP address of the remote Vista computer it has an address from the office network as it should, and if I go out to the web it is from the office T1.  What needs to be changed so the office computers will show in Network Places and so a server drive can be mapped.

Also, If I use a IPSEC  VPN between two firewalls, I have the same issue and I would like to be able to do that also.  Any ideas?
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Top Expert 2013
Commented:
Your problem is likely the fact that NetBIOS names  (computer names) are not routable, and therefore not broadcast over most VPN's. Browsing the remote network, which uses NetBIOS, is only possible over a VPN with WINS servers configured. However, you can deal with this in several ways:
1) Use the IP address (of the computer you are connecting to) when connecting to devices such as;   \\123.123.123.123\ShareName   or map a drive at a  command prompt using  
 Net  Use  U:  \\123.123.123.123\ShareName
2) An option is to use the LMHosts file which creates a table of IP's and computer names. LMHosts is located in the Windows directory under c:\Windows (or WINNT)\System32\Drivers\Etc\LMHosts.sam , instructions are included within the file. Any line starting with # is just a comment and is ignored. Open the file with Notepad and add entries for your computers as below;
192.168.0.101      CompName       #PRE
Hit enter when each line is complete (important), then save the file without a file extension. To be sure there is no extension ,when saving enclose in quotations like "LMHosts". Now when you try to connect to a computer name it should find it as it will search the LMHosts file for the record before connecting.
More details regarding LMHosts file:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/windows2000serv/reskit/cnet/cnfd_lmh_qxqq.mspx?mfr=true
The drawback of the LMHosts file is you have to maintain a static list of computer names and IP addresses. Also if the remote end uses DHCP assigned IP's it is not a feasible option. Thus in order to be able to use computer names dynamically try to enable with some of the following options:
3) if you have a WINS server add that to the network configuration
4) also under the WINS configuration on the PPP/VPN network adapter make sure NetBIOS over TCP/IP is selected
5) try adding the remote DNS server to your local DNS servers in your PPP/VPN adapter TCP/IP configuration
6) if using a VPN router, verify your router does not have a "block NetBIOS broadcast" option enabled
7) test if you can connect with the full computer and domain name as  \\ComputerName.domain.local  If so, add the suffix DomainName.local to the DNS configuration of the virtual private adapter/connection [ right click virtual adapter | properties | TCP/IP properties | Advanced | DNS | "Append these DNS suffixes (in order)" | Add ]
 

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