Why XP Pro cannot browse the domain?

I have Windows 2003 server as domain controller (svr_dc) at head office.
I have XP Pro workstation (wk_xp) at remote office connected through tunnel.
I alse have another standalone Windows 2000 server (svr_outsider) which physically connects to remote network, but not logically in myDomain.
Usually wk_xp is able to browse My Network places->Entire Network->Microsoft Windows Network->myDomain->all servers and workstations in myDomain.
But once in a while, wk_xp is unable to browse myDomain: domain is not accessible.
At this moment, svr_outsider is unable to see myDomain entry at all at My Network places->Entire Network->Microsoft Windows Network.
I check and make sure:
1. network connctivity is ok
2. tunnel between remote and head office is ok
3. 'Computer Browser' service is started.
I restarted wk_xp and it can see myDomain and its members; svr_outsider can see myDomain  and its members too. I did not have a chance to compare what services are running before and after reboot. So I just ask the lazy question here.
Q#1. What service is necessary to browse its own domain?
Q#2. What causes the service to stop? It started automatically.
Q#3. Any simple way to keep the service started all the time? A batch? A scheduled task?
Who is Participating?
After looking around a lot. I found this link that really explains the browser. You're right in assuming the netbios method of populating the browser isn't going to work unless it is on the same subnet.

This link should provide you with information on how to do this. Using the WAN configuration should help you with the browser issue.

The browser service runs as needed or when polled.
The reason you can not see machines in "My Networks" can be a couple of things. Remotely netBIOS does not route so depending on your tunnel connection than can be the problem.
A easy way to find any machine on your networks is to use IP numbers instead of the computer name (netBIOS name). Example: to find a machine open up explorer type in \\192.168.1. 25 This will work befor typing in a computer name.
You didn't say if you have routers in place etc... which can also be the problem with see netBIOS on the network.
Jeremy WeisingerSenior Network Consultant / EngineerCommented:
richtree, when connected through a VPN, are you ever able to browse My Network Places or is it just when you're connected locally?

Do you use WINS on your network?

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richtreeAuthor Commented:
head office has WINS server.
wk_xp is configured with the WINS server.
usually wk_xp is able to browse the hosts in myDomain.
I check two workstations: both xp pro.
wk_xp11 at branch#1
wk_xp21, wk_xp22 at branch#2.
branch#1 and branch#2 connect to head office using the exactly the same type of vpn.
wk_xp11 is able to browse all hosts in myDomain (local to branch#1 and remote in head office).
wk_xp21,wk_xp22 are able to browse all hosts local to branch#2, but none in remote head office)
Further wk_xp21, wk_xp22 are able to resolve host names, eg able to broswe share folder by typing \\myDC\share which is connected to head office.
I check the services started on both wk_xp11 and wk_xp21: they are both identical. 'Computer browser" is also started.
Logically it seems to be related to the vpn network, but the two vpn network are identical except the network addressing.
Any idea why there is such browsing difference between wk_xp11 and wk_xp21?
Thanks a lot.
Jeremy WeisingerSenior Network Consultant / EngineerCommented:
Well it sounds like things are setup correctly.

Have you checked the event log for issues?
Check out the link below (note: you may need to copy and paste it into your browser)
"http://www.chicagotech.net/browser.htm#Cant see any or only some computers in My Network Places"
richtreeAuthor Commented:
Thank you all.
richtreeAuthor Commented:
Now I have a better understanding of the browsing issue. Thank you all.
Jeremy WeisingerSenior Network Consultant / EngineerCommented:
Glad to help. =)
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