Is WINS still needed ?

Decommissioning WINS in a large company is not an easy task and side effects could be important:

  • Legacy applications
  • Legacy Windows systems, Samba-based servers
  • Old appliances, legacy SAN/NAS devices
  • Short names (and not FQDN) hardcoded in legacy or in-house developped applications
  • My Network Places (or Network Neighborhood) to quickly repopulate this browse list as the Browser service is still based on NetBIOS.
  • Any third-party network applications that leverage the browse list to find network resources users can attach to.
  • Microsoft DFS referrals (see below: The default behavior of DFS is to use NetBIOS names for all target servers in the namespace)
  • WINS could be necessary also for client vpn subnets (that need to resolve netBios names).

How to detect Wins traffic on a network using Firewall logs:

  • TCP 42 to detect WINS replications
  • The WINS Server services listen on UDP port 137 for incoming NetBIOS name resolution requests (to detect client computers/servers using WINS)

Very good article:

Impact and changes:

  • Change DHCP scopes (removing option 44 on scopes)
  • Change local TCP/IP properties on all computers, servers to remove Wins servers
  • The default behavior of DFS is to use NetBIOS names for all target servers in the namespace:

My personal recommendations:

WINS is not deprecated in 2012 R2 and in 2016 neither:


If you are configuring a new company from scratch try to not install WINS, else for an existing company with Windows applications and computers (100% in reality!), I would say that WINS is not necessary, but it is recommended. It is easy to install and to maintain. It is a faster to resolve and robust. Administration tasks are close to zero!

Published by jdalbera

IT Pro: 25 years experience for large companies - Technical manager and solution architect: Directory services and Identity Management, Azure AD, Office 365, Azure infrastructures, Microsoft AD Security (ADDS,ADFS,ADCS), PowerShell, Quest solutions architect. Operating systems (Win/Lin). Unix and Microsoft interoperability. Data center Operations. Company integrations. Network architectures. Virtualization and storage infrastructures. HP/Dell servers deployments. Certifications: MCSE, MCPs, MCITS, ITIL, VCP, CCNA, CyberArk

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