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Browser problem in a native Windows 2000 AD

We are having a browser problem in a native Windows 2000 AD. We have WINS, DNS, two Global Catalog Servers, and four Domain Controllers. All workstations are on Windows 2000 Professional.

When we try to browse the network, an error "Domain xxxx is not available." occurs. The error usually goes away in the next 5-10 minutes -- and voila -- we can browse the network again. We also have errors 8021 and 8032 in the application error logs from member servers who are not the master browser, but as backup browsers.

I read the article Q135404 from MS Web site, but it doesn't really apply. Can you assist? Thanks.

I would start by collecting some more information. Check the browser status using BROWSTAT or BROWMON from the resource kit. These should give you an idea of what the Master and Backup browsers on the network really are. Browsers are set up on a per subnet basis. So if the problems that you are facing appear to be localized to subnets, my guess would be that some workstations have been elected backup browsers, and when they get shut off, an election occurs. If this is the case, you can make a registry adjustment to the Windows 2000 workstations and disable the Computer Browser service on them. Search MS Knowledge base for MAINTAINSERVERLIST.

Windows 2000 machines favor DNS for looking up machines, but the browser list is seeded by the WINS database if it is present. So you may want to check on the WINS servers and make sure there are no errors, rogue entries or corruption in the WINS databases.

Also, check the Windows 2000 workstations for consistency of the network configuration. If the machines have LMHOSTS or HOSTS files with bad entries, it can lead to lots of little annoying problems.

Ultimately, since you do have an Active Directory, you should consider publishing shares, printers and other resources in the directory. Then you can educate the users on using AD search tools instead of browsing. This way you can leverage AD and other features like DFS.

This was last published in April 2002

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