Domain Master Browser in a Different Subnet

Posted on 2011-04-25
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
We are having a bit of a problem with our netbios (WINS) in our Active Directory environment running Windows Server 2008 R2. I guess WINS was never really explained to me in the detail that we need it to be. But in a nutshell we have two WINS servers which happen to also be domain controllers that are on a DIFFERENT SUBNET then the rest of the clients in our office. This means broadcast messages from clients will never reach the server. This seemed to work fin up until now some people are getting randomly disconnected from mapped drives that are connected through netbios names. This is because the master browser is unavailable (on standby). When looking at the browstat.exe status It reports that the master browsers are actually people clients pc's! So the first thing I tried was to enable the computer browser service on both of the domain controllers but that didn't work. The clients are still electing themselves as browsers. I have been shutting down peoples client pc's that are browsers and wins, for a brief moment, elects our domain controller as a browser and then starts socializing with other client pc's.

My question is: Do we need a WINS server on each subnet? Microsoft appears to have neglected to included this vital piece of information in thier documentation. But it would make sense to me to have a WINS server that can pick up the broadcast messages and store them in a database...
Question by:jpwallen
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Alot of people would say WINS is pointless.... but I disagree (as much as I hate to say it!)

    Why don't you set your wins servers to push/pull to each other and have your local clients connect to their local wins using dhcp option?
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    We do have push/pull replication between those WINS servers but those wins servers are on a different network. DHCP is set to point all the clients WINS servers to both of those WINS servers in that other network.
    LVL 20

    Accepted Solution

    The Browser service relies on NetBIOS. This works fine on single subnets, however if the environment contains multiple subnets, or VPN subnets, then the Browser will fail going across subnets. Workstations on each subnet will only "see" the computers on that specific subnet.
    This is due to the fact NetBIOS broadcasts are blocked by routers (including VLAN configurations), therefore browsing across subnets, such as between multiple company locations, or across client VPN connections fails.

    Please go through this link for sep by step procedure

    Hope this helps you.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    That's what it's looking like so far. We have our WINS set up exactly as it states in the documentation and It appears to be "working" 99.9% of the time and that other %0.1 might actually be related to something completely different (we just noticed one of our DNS zones went down this weekend)
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    To prevent workstations from becoming browse masters, set the following registry keys:


    On the other hand, if these machines are winning elections, then they probably need to be browse masters. You might consider setting up a WINS proxy in the subnet that is having the problem.

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