Difference between WINS and DNS

Posted on 2009-02-17
Last Modified: 2013-11-25

What is the difference between WINS and DNS, and is WINS really still needed?
Question by:kam_uk
    LVL 15

    Accepted Solution

    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.
    LVL 6

    Assisted Solution

    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.
    LVL 8

    Assisted Solution

    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., 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. "
    LVL 9

    Assisted Solution

    by:Ken Fayal
    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.
    LVL 3

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