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WINS tips and tricks

Some miscellaneous tip and tricks for the successful administration of your WINS server.

WINS Tips and Tricks


We've found that a star topology generally works best for WINS replication, with push/pull replication from one central hub.

One indication that your WINS database entries are invalid is if you get "no domain controller available" errors between trusted domains in the system event log. This can almost always be cleared up by disabling replication from the hub, selecting "delete owner" for the corrupt server database on all WINS servers, and then re-enabling replication.

Remember that until the new WINS entries for the WINS clients are registered and replicated, you won't be able to resolve the names of the clients via WINS. The domain controllers will show up in the new database fairly quickly; however, if you have any stand-alone servers or workstations that you need to access, you might need to reboot those servers to force them to re-register with the WINS database.

We like to use H-Node for our WINS/NBT type with DHCP, so that if the WINS database is invalid the name will be resolved via broadcasts. This will only work for computers on the same network, unless your routers forward the broadcasts. Name resolution for entries in other WINS server databases will be unaffected using this method of recovery. Force replication to the other WINS servers as soon as the correct entries show up.

You can also restore the WINS database from a backup. Here is how you back up the WINS database and registry entries:

Backing up the WINS database:

Select Mappings/Backup Database

Choose a local drive/directory/filename

Click OK button when done.

The WINS database will now be backed up every 24 hours.

Backing up the WINS registry entries:

open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesWins

Select Save Key from the registry menu.

Store the registry key in the same location as the WINS database.

WINS will automatically restore a corrupt database with a backup if you stop and restart the WINS service. Often, though, the entries are just plain invalid. The odds are that if you automatically backup WINS every 24 hours, then the invalid entries will be in your backup too. Using the method where you clear out the invalid server entries gets around this problem. Alternatively, you could supplement the automatic backups with an occasional manual backup and use that to clean up your WINS database. If you have resources on stand-alone servers and workstations, you might want to do this, but remember that since the entries replicate, you will need to do this for all WINS servers that are replicating with the hub. Finally, you might want to check out our LMHOSTS trick and our LMHOSTS generator program to help out with your WINS woes. We have had much luck with using the LMHOSTS file to backup WINS.

Note that the latest service packs for NT 4.0 have both an option to selectively delete WINS entries from the GUI and a means to refresh the WINS registration without a reboot using nbtstat -RR.

This was last published in August 2000

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