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Removing WINS on Windows 2003 with Exchange 2003 Server

Posted on 2009-07-10
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Last Modified: 2013-11-25
Hello experts,

I manage a one subnet network running Windows 2003 network with Active Directory and Exchange 2003.  At this time we're running DNS and WINS for computer name to IP address resolution and DHCP for IP address configuration.  I would like to remove the WINS protocol because since the release of Windows 2000 is no longer required by Windows 2003, also, I think it will improve network performance by not having NetBIOS traffic.  The only concern that I have is will Exchange still continue to function properly?  According to this article titled "Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange 2000 Server require NetBIOS name resolution for full functionality" http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=837391 but my understanding of this article is that it only applies to larger subnetted networks and not a single subnet network like ours.  I would really appreciate your input for my question.  Thank you in advance.
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Question by:vvarela619
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Expert Comment

by:Henrik Johansson
ID: 24828750
If removing WINS, NetBIOS traffic will still exist and broadcasted in the single subnet. WINS or NetBT (NetBIOS over TCP/IP) is neaded to get NetBIOS to work between routed subnets.
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Author Comment

by:vvarela619
ID: 24828799
henjohn09,

We do not have routed subnets, we only have one subnet.  Do we still need NetBIOS?
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Expert Comment

by:ismog_tech
ID: 24829072
I really advise against removing WINS...
I've tried in the past and I got weird results in name resolution in the test network.

the thing you can try if you want to improve network traffic is to suppress broadcast messages sent from the client computers and instruct them to query the WINS server only.

This plus the windows client cache should reduce your braodcast traffic greatly since
your traffic is probably mainly from the client to the server and not between clients

this is done at the DHCP server level by changing the DHCP option number 46 and assigning it a value of 0x2 p-node mode.

you can have more info on the subject at the following MS article

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/160177
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Expert Comment

by:Henrik Johansson
ID: 24829942
NetBIOS-traffic will still exist and be broadcasted in the single subnet if trying to remove WINS.
NetBIOS is a broadcasting protocol that normally isn't routed, and WINS/NetBT is by that reason neaded if having multiple subnets.

WINS isn't necessary in your network when just having a single subnet as NetBIOS will still work by using broadcasting, but using WINS reduces the broadcasting and improves network performance.
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Expert Comment

by:Mestha
ID: 24830279
The network performance gain from removing WINS will be negligible - at best.

Simon.
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Author Comment

by:vvarela619
ID: 24854481
I get the impression that everyone is pro-NetBIOS and I'm surprised anyone hasn't mentioned the following facts:

NetBIOS and NBT are legacy name resolution protocols left over from NT days.

NetBIOS is inefficient because it broadcasts information to all computers in a network segment.

Windows 2000, 2003 and XP rely can now rely on DNS for name resolution and there's no need for WINS or NetBIOS.

By the way, NetBIOS traffic can be disabled by going to your DHCP Scope options > Microsoft Options > 001 Microsoft Disable Netbios Option.
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Accepted Solution

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Henrik Johansson earned 1500 total points
ID: 24889975
The KB you're referring to in the question states that NetBIOS is required for full functionality of Exchange 2000/2003. It might be other stuff like network browsing that you might want to keep that depends on NetBIOS, and you should test that everything works as expected in a test environment before doing the change in production.

You can disable WINS as you have a single subnet that isn't routed, but you'll propably get more NetBIOS broadcasts between the clients if not able to disable NetBIOS.

As WINS/NetBIOS is using the short hostname without DNS suffix and DNS has higher priority for resolving than WINS, the most of NetBIOS depending stuff should propably work if configuring DNS Suffix Search List correctly.

Article about disabling NetBIOS
http://www.petri.co.il/disable_netbios_in_w2k_xp_2003.htm

List discussion about removing WINS
http://www.activedir.org/ListArchives/tabid/55/forumid/1/postid/31045/view/topic/Default.aspx
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