First of all, many apologies for my lack of knowledge in managing an active directory, but our network is a bit outdated and I don't necessarily have been trained in the field, however I'm the IT. We are running an Active Directory on Windows Small Business Server 2003 which includes integrated DNS, DHCP, and SMTP automatically. This server is also running WINS, which as far as I understand, WINS is more of a specific type of DNS server. All our 30+ client computers are at least XP and up (to Windows 8) and also a few new macs.

We also have a VPN between this office location and a store which has 6 computers and a BDC (Backup domain controller) which synchronizes with our PDC (Primary domain controller). This remote location is managed by DHCP on the router and DNS on their local computer (which the DNS syncs with the Office PDC). All clients at this store consider the DNS of their local server, but are joined directly to the domain at this office location. Everything is still on IP-V4, and I always disable IP-V6. The BDC at the remote location does not have WINS running, and all the clients there don't know of any WINS. However all clients at the Office location, if they're using dynamic DHCP, then they automatically get registered with this WINS server (based on DHCP settings).

The question is, could the WINS Server be interfering with the normal DNS? Because we often have issues of various systems unable to connect. Do I need WINS at all?

The problem which rose this question is that we have an Intel NAS machine, SS-4200e which is Unix based. This machine appears to have issues very often when connecting by its DNS name (which I had to manually register in the DNS). The NAS is in fact joined to the active directory (Unix more or less mimics Windows Domain capabilities) but randomly, people are unable to get authenticated (logins refused) to this NAS. This device has no concept of WINS, but after months of evaluation, it's appearing that possibly WINS could be interfering. The strange thing is, when we connect to the NAS by IP Address, it always works with no issues. The problem is especially worse at our remote store location, where their server does not have WINS.

So can I feel safe to shut down the WINS Server on our PDC and remove it from the DHCP settings? What would be harmed? (if anything)


You may be able safely turn off WINS - Microsoft has basically abandoned it in favor of DNS and AD.

Having said that, a lot of older MS applications rely on it for full functionality - so if you use MS SQL 2000, Exchange 2000 or 2003 or SMS 2003 and you turn off WINS, you will lose some functionality with those apps (and there are others, that's just what I know off the top of my head).

It seems unlikely to me that this is the source of your problems, since WINS doesn't have anything to do with authentication, and I wouldn't think a UNIX-based box would register with WINS anyway. Really the only way WINS could "interfere" with DNS is if there are conflicting records between your DNS and WINS servers.

So, by all means, feel free to try disabling WINS (I'd disable it rather than remove it, in case you have something in your environment that requires WINS), but I doubt that's the source of your problems.

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