So I have Windows Server 2003 and I'm running into a weird issue.

Using XP or Win 7 machines I cannot browse the shares using the servers hostname


I get this error

"The network location cannot be reached. For information about network troubleshooting, see Windows Help."

I can however ping the server by name fine and I can remote desktop into it by name fine also.

I can also connect to the shares using the server ip address


and that works fine.

Also I can browse the shares fine by name from within other servers, just not on client XP and Win 7 machines.

Does anyone have any idea?


\\server.domain.name also works and allows me to browse the shares.

and all other servers are working fine with \\server connection, only one server is giving me issue, and it's a recent problem it has worked fine in the past.

  • Are the machines joined to a domain? If so, do the client machines have their DNS suffix specified correctly? Can you get to the share if you use \\server.domain.name? – Chris McKeown Oct 24 '12 at 14:39
  • Thanks for the reply. Yes the machines are on the domain. The DNS suffix is specified correctly on client and server. And yes \\server.domain.name does work! Also I can connect to shares for all other servers via the name, it just this one server giving me issues. – Dan Oct 24 '12 at 14:46
  • Try nslookup server and also nslookup server.domain.name and make sure that the IP address is the same as the one you get back if you ping server – Chris McKeown Oct 24 '12 at 15:06
  • Yep, IP address is the same for both. – Dan Oct 24 '12 at 15:08
  • And if you do an nbtstat -A <ipaddress> is the name correct? – Chris McKeown Oct 24 '12 at 15:15

You are running into a problem with NetBIOS name resolution. You have two options for resolving these types of issues, either remove all NetBIOS configuration from your network and clients and properly configure your DNS, or fix your NetBIOS and WINS configuration.

It seems as though your network is already set up to use NetBIOS. If you want to continue down that path, you should be aware of how it works. If your clients and servers are on the same subnet, the browser service on the client needs to be running in order to discover hosts by NetBIOS name. In addition, the network adapter on the client needs to have NetBIOS over TCP/IP enabled. If the client and server are on different IP subnets, you need a WINS server to do the NetBIOS name to IP lookup.

The reason that you can ping by host name without specifying the FQDN is most likely that you have a default DNS suffix specified on your network adapter, either manually configured or received from the DHCP server.

You should review NetBIOS, NetBT, WINS and DNS functionality.

NetBIOS Name resolution: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc738412(v=ws.10).aspx

WINS: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc784707(v=ws.10).aspx

WINS and DNS: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc750589.aspx

NetBT: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/119493

  • It's definitely possible to connect to a machine using just the (DNS-registered) machine name (which is usually the same as the NetBIOS name) as long as the DNS suffix is configured correctly on the machine. I personally don't see any reason to enable NetBIOS or the browser service these days - I certainly don't use it on any AD networks I administer. NetBIOS is noisy, broadcast-based and not needed on modern networks. – Chris McKeown Oct 24 '12 at 14:55
  • There are certainly different valid options on whether or not NetBIOS is necessary or desirable, but that wasn't the question. It is almost certainly the issue he is running into (as you are discovering in your back and forth with him upstream). I would disagree with one characterization however. Running properly in M-node configuration, NetBIOS isn't really all that noisy as all requests should be handled by unicast queries to the WINS server (which should also be integrated into DNS) – smithian Oct 24 '12 at 15:27
  • Sure, the problem is probably related to mismatched NetBIOS/DNS names or something like that, but solving it by enabling NetBIOS and installing a WINS server is overkill given that unless you're running Exchange <= 2003 or supporting NT4 clients, WINS isn't required. – Chris McKeown Oct 24 '12 at 15:30
  • I wasn't intending to advocate for setting up a NetBIOS/WINS architecture, I was assuming that it was already in place and that they needed help fixing it. I edited my answer to clarify. – smithian Oct 24 '12 at 15:38
  • Downvote removed accordingly :-) – Chris McKeown Oct 24 '12 at 15:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.