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Difference between WINS and DNS

kam_uk asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-25

What is the difference between WINS and DNS, and is WINS really still needed?
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DNS is primarily used to resolve domain names to the IP addresses that
are held in Domain Name Servers. Without DNS servers, you would have to
type and IP address to get to a web site. Servers use WINs to resolve
Netbios 15 letter names to IP addresses. WINS is generally used on LANS,
and not WANS. DNS is primarily used on WANS.

If you have Win XP Pro computers & up on your network you do not need WINS. You'd only need it for Win NT & below.

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WINS is the Windows name service that is managed by the domain controllers. DNS is a TCP/IP protocol that is used a great deal more prominently these days. You can use WINS and DNS at the same time, but WINS is definitely not needed.
From the internets

"hey are similar enough to confuse even some of those who think they
are experts since they "resolve names to IP addresses" -- DNS resolves
the names used on the Internet (e.g., www.google.com) and WINS
resolves "NetBIOS" names to IP addresses.

NetBIOS was used historically for networking Microsoft (& IBM) networks
and is still use mainly for Browsing, external trusts, and a few other minor
feature including even some things in Exchange and Cluster services.

DNS is now, as of Win2000 and Active Directory, required for your domain
to work well.

In fact, most problems with AD replication OR authentication are actually
issue. And in many cases, problems with resource access or slow logons are
also due to DNS problems.

> I have 2 DCs , 1 is Primary and another is secondary, do i install DNS &
> WINS service on both of them ?

DNS almost for sure. Otherwise you will have problems when one DC is
down, even for short reboots.

You only need WINS servers if you have more than one Subnet, although
having a WINS server can reduce broadcasts. On a single subnet (i.e.,
no internal routers) the broadcasts can resolve the NetBIOS names without
the WINS server(s).

If you wish fault tolerance for NetBIOS names across routers you will
also need to have that second WINS Server.

All internal clients, especially DCs and servers, must be set STRICTLY
as clients of the Internet DNS server, and also of the WINS Server on
the NIC->IP Properties. "
WINS is arguably going to the wayside.  Slowly..

Here is a great article on the differences and similarities between DNS and WINS.


When I set up servers, I only set up WINS because it's there.  However, it is very useful in the DHCP process.  Read more on that article.  I'm sure you'll get all the information you need.


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