Windows Explorer - Unable to browse network computers

We have a Windows 2003 Server Standard Edition network domain with Windows XP, Vista and 7 clients.  Recently, we've noticed that various systems on the network are not appearing in the browse list.  Aside from the edition of some Windows 7 clients and a Linux-based NAS unit, there have been essentially no changes to the network's configuration.

Does anyone know what may be causing this browse issue?

I appreciate any help.
cmmcginnAsked:
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dholbertCommented:
-Make sure you are in the same workgroup or domain
-Check for duplicate computer names
-Turn Network Discovery on on the Vista and Win 7 machines
-Turn off windows firewall or setup an exception in the firewall settings

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cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Yes, all of those items are in effect and configured properly.

We're able to address our machines using UNC referencing, just can't browse to them.
Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
Make sure the checkbox for "Enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP" is checked in the properties of the NIC, TCP/IP properties.
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cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Well, my DHCP servers are configured to supply Enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP, but I've sent out an email asking our staff to confirm their settings.

I'll let you know if that proves to be an issue, but I'm doubtful.

Thanks.
ChiefITCommented:
Look in your PDCe's event logs for events in the 8000's that elude to a Windows 7 computer taking over as domain master browser. As a result the domain server's browser service may stop, but some clients will be looking to that domain server as the netbios server.

Examples of the events are 8021 and 8032...

The text of the message will say something like:

""XXXcomputer thinks it is the master browser, .... the master browser service has stopped and an election has been forced...""

To resolve a master browser conflict, you have to go into registry and tell that client machine it will not hold the browselist or will never be the master browser. Also, you can manually edit the server to tell it that it will be the domain master browser.

Here is an example of what you will see:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Server/2003_Server/Q_23657415.html
mitrumCommented:
Check you dns setting from enduser side with nslookup command.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
I think you guys are on the right path.  One of my two DCs is generating "browser" errors with event ID 8032.  I looked at the registry settings for both machines and was surprised that both were set to "isdomainmaster=FALSE."  Trouble is, I set one to TRUE, but the event errors are continuing and our browse lists are still blank.

Do I also have to shut-down the browse master function on the Windows 7 systems?  I'm surprised to see a problem like this considering that Vista and XP systems didn't cause any trouble.  I'd expect that a master browser feature in Windows 7 systems would become disabled, particularly when they are joined to a domain.

Do you have more advice?
Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
It's not the "IsDomainMaster" property that you have to reset. The key value is "MaintainServerList" which must be set to YES.  The "IsDomainMaster=TRUE" value isn't needed, as the DC with the PDC-E role will automatically take the role of the domain master browser. The solution would be to edit the registries of the workstations that are taking over the browse master role and set the "MaintainServerList" value to NO.  Normally, you shouldn't have to do this, so it's a bit of a mystery why those Windows 7 machines are interfering with the browser elections.
 
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Thanks. I'll give it a try when I get a chance.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Thanks. I'll give it a try when I get a chance.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
I checked my FSMO (with the emulator role) and MaintainServerList is set to YES, as I thought.  Next, I'll look at the Windows 7 systems.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Our Windows 7 system have MaintainServerList set to AUTO, so I'm changing each to a definitive NO.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks again.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Well, changing the Windows 7 systems made a big improvement in the browse lists on our network.  Strangely, my own Vista Ultimate system has not made the list, and the Windows 7 systems aren't on the list.

This issue wouldn't matter so much except that we use Symantec Backp Exec, and selecting systems and folders for backup depends on the browse lists.  BE doesn't provide navigation to clients that don't show-up in the browse list.

Any other ideas to completely resolve this??

I don't understand why Microsoft would design Windows 7 so that it dominates control of browse lists even when joined to a domain.  How do they win control over this from domain controllers?  Seems like a design flaw.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Okay, I spoke too soon.

I need to give the browse list more time to regenerate following the registry changes.  One of our Windows 7 systems just showed-up.
Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
Yes, browse lists don't refresh as quickly as you might expect, so give it some time.  If they don't appear after 20-30 minutes, then we might need to look further.
Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
As to your question about Windows 7 taking over as master browser, as I said above, this is somewhat of a mystery. It has to have something to do with your environment, as I've never seen this happen before. I manage several networks with Windows 2003/2008 domains and Windows 7 clients, and I haven't seen any similar browsing issues.  I have seen browsing issues on a Vista/Windows 2003 domain due to the fact that Network Discovery somehow gets turned off, but that's an entirely different situation.
One thing to check might be to look at the registry settings for the Browser service on the DC that has your PDC-E role. On this machine, the "IsDomainMaster=TRUE" setting should be automatic, but if you check the registry and it isn't set that way, you might try setting it manually and see if that makes a difference. Also, make sure the Messenger service is running on your DCs - this can also be a cause of browser errors in your event logs.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Interestingly, I noticed this morning that IsDomainMaster was set to FALSE.  Yesterday, I found it was set to FALSE, so I reset it to TRUE.  I don't know how it became set back to FALSE.  I just switched it back to TRUE, so I'll keep an eye on it.

Our environment is very straight forward.  Two 2003 Standard DCs and a collection of XP, Vista and Win 7.  Not a lot here.  Even file serving has been transitioned to a NAS device.
ChiefITCommented:
OK, before you get too far and confused:

maintains serverlist means it will be a backup browser. You should have backup browsers for every 30 clients or so.

Is Domain master>>makes it a domain master browser

What I would like to give you is an article on the browser service. This explains Browser elections, and also explains the registry keys you are editing. With that said, I also recomend a group policy object to prevent clients from winning the browser elections.

You see, browser elections are based off the Latest and greatest Operating system (WIN 7), and also takes into consideration the FSMO role holders (PDCe). So, a WIN7 may win over the PDCe for a browser election. This is why you want to explicitly assign the domain master browser role to the PDCe. That way no browser elections will win over the PDCe as the netbios browser.

Though this is an NT4 aritcle, it also pertains to 2003 server, 2000 server, 2000, 2008 server, Vista, Win7 and XP. There is a subtle difference in NT4:

http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windowsnt/4/server/reskit/en-us/net/chptr3.mspx?mfr=true

That difference is:
NT4 reg key = isdomainmasterbrowser
All else reg key= isdomainmaster
ChiefITCommented:
By the way, Client computers check in via netbios broadcasts every 15 minutes:

Servers check in every 5 minutes via netbios broadcast

It can take about a half hour, or so, to unhose the browser service and so all clients know who the assigned master browser is and it's backup browsers.

Also watch out for Mass storage Unix, Mac, Linux computers winning the browser elections in the future.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the added info.  My browse list hasn't improved since I last commented, and the DC browse list is empty.

Anyway, I'll read the article you provided.  I do understand the newer OS situation with Win 7, I just don't understand why Microsoft would design it to overtake a DC - even an older platform DC.  I would expect a default setting to give priority to DCs.

I'll look into the NAS device too.  It's a Linus OS.

Thanks again.  I'll read what you provided.
ChiefITCommented:
Doesn't appear to be a GPO to control the browser service, masterbrowser and backup browsers:

However, there looks like a workaround:

Option 1) You can go this via logon script assigned to the clients

Option 2) Or you can create a GPO, as it is outlined on this thread:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/2000/Q_21488701.html

Option 3) I think it might be easiest to create a custom GPO or custom ADM template and link it to the client OUs:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/323639

That still doesn't control NAS Unix boxes, Mac, or Linux servers/machines.
ChiefITCommented:
Option 4) I think Microsoft did have a GPO that Hypercat was giving to others. Wait for her to respond. She might have something that will work to control Domain computers. Her and I have worked on a few of these exact issues together.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Correction, Linux OS.
Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
I haven't been able to find anything GPO-wise that will control the browser settings.  Using a scheduled task on the individual workstations to run a regedit is probably your best bet.  Putting it in the login script won't work unless the users have local admin rights, since the values are in a part of the registry that is not editable by normal users. What I would do is export the registry entry from a workstation that has the correct settings and then use a script to import it on those workstations. You can create a scheduled task remotely on those workstations, put in the administrative password so that it will run with admin rights, and that should do it. If you need help writing the script (I generally just use a simple .cmd script), let me know and I'll send you some examples.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Thank you for all this help.  I will work through all the information you've provided and respond soon.  I am inundated with work at the moment, but this matter needs to be corrected.
ChiefITCommented:
After getting the master browser and backup browser roles fixed, you might run into a couple straglers that are not popping up in "my network places"

This might be caused by the software firewall on that client machine blocking netbios. For Windowsfirewall, you have to make and exception to "file and printer sharing" if you wish to use the firewall at all.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
Thanks. We use a centralized software firewall that all workstations get their policy from. The policy has been in effect for a long time, but the browsing issue is relatively new.

We only see a few workstations in the browse list. The DCs don't show up.
cmmcginnAuthor Commented:
The browsing issues we experienced seem to have resolved without specific action on my part.  Thank you to everyone who offered assistance.
ChiefITCommented:
Just to follow up on when browser announcements are passed out. A DC will send out a Netbios broadcast every 5 Minutes. A client, every 15 minutes by default. So a client can take up to 20 minutes to make the browselist when they send out the netbios broadcast. For DCs, about 10 minutes max.
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Windows Server 2003

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