According to abbreviationfinder, WINS stands for W indows I nternet N aming S ervice. Microsoft Name Server for NetBios, which provides a dynamically replicating database service that can register and resolve NetBios names to IP addresses used on the network. The Microsoft® Windows Server 2003 family includes WINS, which enables the server computer to act as a NetBios name server and to register and resolve the names of WINS-enabled client computers on the network in the manner described in the NetBios over TCP /IP.
Using a Windows Internet Name Server on a network avoids more laborious lookups (such as broadcast requests) to obtain it, thereby reducing network traffic.
As of Windows 2000 WINS has been relegated in favor of DNS and Active Directory, however it is still required to establish network services with earlier versions of Microsoft systems.
It is generally used to refer to computers names such as: (SERVER1, PC1, NOMINAS, etc.). The WINS service changes these names to IP addresses in the format 220.127.116.11. If a computer needs to access a file on SERVER1. The computer might broadcast the following message “Is SERVER1 connected?” and wait for SERVER1I answered. However, this method has two problems. First, the broadcast reaches all computers and each must decide whether or not to respond. Second, broadcasts do not go through routers. Therefore, all computers within the local subnet receive the broadcast, but computers on other subnets do not. If SERVER1 is on another subnet, it will not receive the broadcast. The computer needs a more direct method of determining the IP address of the server.
One way to fix this may be the LMHOSTS file; a list of computer names and IP addresses that the client can use, like a phone book, to look up the IP addresses of computers. The system administrator must manually update this list and regularly replicate it to clients. In a relatively static environment, this solution works quite well. However, IP addresses can change very frequently. It is almost impossible to maintain a network subject to continuous changes. WINS provides an automated solution to the problem.
A WINS server is a database of IP addresses and computer names that is dynamically updated as IP addresses change. Many networks use DHCP to assign IP addresses, so administrators typically install WINS along with DHCP.
The WINS server must have a fixed IP address so that a WINS client computer can send a message to the WINS server and request the IP address of the computer with which it needs to communicate. This message is not a broadcast, because the client knows the IP address of the WINS server and sends the message directly to it. In the same way, the WINS server also knows the IP address of the computer that sent the request and responds directly to it.
Primary and Secondary WINS Servers
Clients use WINS servers in two ways: as a primary or secondary WINS server. The difference between primary and secondary WINS server is not based on the servers (which are functionally the same in WINS) in any way. The difference is in the client, which distinguishes and sorts the list of WINS servers when it can use more than one. In most cases, the client contacts the primary WINS server for all of its NetBios name service functions (name registration, renewal, and release, and name lookup and resolution). The only case in which secondary WINS servers can be used is when the primary WINS server:
- It is not available on the network when the service request is made.
- It cannot resolve the name for the client (in the case of a name query).
For primary WINS server failures, the client requests the same service function from its secondary WINS servers. If the client has more than two WINS servers configured, the additional WINS servers are used until the list is exhausted or one of the secondary WINS servers successfully processes and responds to the request. After using a secondary WINS server, the client periodically tries to reuse its primary WINS server for subsequent service requests.
On newer WINS clients (Windows XP and Windows 2000), a list of up to 12 secondary WINS servers can be configured (either manually in TCP / IP properties or dynamically from a DHCP server providing a list using DHCP option 44). This feature is useful in environments where there are a large number of mobile clients and NetBios-based services and resources are frequently used. Because in these types of environments the WINS database may not be consistent across the network of WINS servers due to convergence issues, it may be useful for clients to be able to query more than two WINS servers.
However, this option should not be abused unnecessarily as it has drawbacks in terms of the real fault tolerance benefit of having additional WINS servers. The benefit of this feature must be weighed against the fact that, for each additional WINS server, the processing time of a WINS query request is incrementally longer. For example, if a WINS client attempts to query three or more WINS servers before giving up, it may significantly delay processing the name lookup before attempting other alternative methods in resolution, such as searching a local Hosts file or querying a DNS server.