Computer Browser

Understanding Computer Browser and Protocols

Can ping and search a remote computer but not browse it

Can't share after 15 minutes

Can't see any or only some computers in My Network Places

How to check Browser status

The browser was unable to retrieve a list of servers from the browser master

How can I check my Master Browsers

How do I know I have a computer browser problem

How to disable Master Browser in XP, 9X, W2k

How to fix browsing problem in a mixed OS workgroup

How to start/stop Master Browser on Win2K/XP

How to disable servers from becoming browser servers

How to disable the Computer Browser Service on all Windows clients and servers

How to enable servers becoming browser servers

In a small mixed OS network, you may want to disable W2K/XP master browser and keep w9x or NT master browser

Master Browsing issue on Multihomed DC

One computer screw up the network

Re-register NetBIOS name

The master browser has received a server announcement from the computer <computer name> that believes that it is the master browser

What is NetBT_<driver_name>


The computer browser is to display a directory of all known computers or domains that the computer can reach. The purpose of the browser service is to collect and report the existence of other computers on the network that are sharing file, print, and other resources from the active browser or master servers on each of its active endpoints such as each network protocol that is running on each network card. For example, a computer with TCP/IP and NetBEUI installed on the network interface cards A and B would have four endpoints for the computer browser client.

If the browser client is trying to locate a browser server on each endpoint. It waits until it either one receives valid information or times out on each endpoint before returning. This process can be slow if there is an endpoint that does not contain browser servers or  the active network card is not connected to the network. Also Multihomed servers can create unexpected and undesirable effects with the browser service and a master browser cannot be multihomed because the PDC will contact only the master browser on one of its network adapters.

In general, computer browser performance improves with fewer protocols or network cards on a computer. All domain controllers must be singlehomed computers for browsing to operate correctly. Also the computer browser is dependent on NetBIOS. Therefore, in a mixed OS network environment (win9x, NT, ME, W2K and XP), you should have a WINS server in a domain network and enable NetBIOS over TCP/IP (instead of loading NetBEUI) on w2k/xp in the home or small network.

If you can see or search a remote computer in mixed OS (win98, ME, NT, W2K and XP) network, this is master browser issue. You may try to use browstat.exe from NT resource kit to check the master browser status. Or stop computer browser on w2k/xp.

Can't see any or only some computers in My Network Places

Symptoms: you can map the remote computers' shared folder, but you are experiencing the following issues:
1. Can't see any or some computers in My Network Places.
2. It takes long time to show networking computers in My Network Places.
3. The networking computers show in My Network Places randomly.

Resolutions: this is likely Computer Browser issue.
1.  If there is a multi-homed or RAS machine on your network becoming the browse master for the wrong subnet, disable the Computer Browser service on the computer.
2. Check any errors in Event Viewer, especially Browser error. If you have peer to peer workgroup network, you may want to disable Computer Browser services on w2k/xp.
3. If you can't disable the Computer Browser service because the compute is the PDC, you can unbind NetBIOS from one interface in network advanced settings.
4. W2K/XP may not show on the My Network Places if it doesn't use Windows Logon Passwords or has blank password.

To determined the failed protocol_netcard and check the working status of the Browser service on all installed protocols, you can use a tool comes with the Windows NT resource kit program Browstat.exe or Browmon.exe (for domain). At a command prompt, type the following command: browstat status or just browser to see the lists.

SYMPTOMS: 1) Event Viewer System log shows Event id: 8021 and Description: The browser was unable to retrieve a list of servers from the browser master <PDC> on the network \device\<protocol_netcard>. 2) Event id: 8032 and Description: The browser service has failed to retrieve the backup list too many times on transport of <protocol_netcard>.

This symptom occurs because 1) your computer is a multihomed computer or using multiple network cards in the same subnet; 2) your computer is a master browser; 3) Your computer is running the TCP/IP protocol.

Resolutions: find the failed protocol_netcard or use browstat status (from NT Resource Kit) to find the problem and the card. Then
1) Stop computer browser to prevents the computer from receiving computer browse lists from other networks.
2) Remove or disable the card.
3) Unbind it  from the workstation service.
4) Uncheck Client for MS Networks on the card.
5) If you still need help, click here to get consulting services

Q: How can I check my Master Browsers?

The resource kit has a utility BROWSTAT.EXE which allows status of the browse service to be ascertained. To do this, use command browstat status <domain> or browstat stats \\<server>. Too many browsers or no master browser may bring problems to your network.

1) When you open My Network Places, the computer list you see is obtaining from the master browser of your network. You have a master browser issue if you have the following symptoms. 1) If you can ping a computer name, you can search it, you can map it,  but that computer doesn't show or take long time to show up on My Network Places.
2) Net view command shows no lists or shows "System error 6118 has occurred. The list of servers for this workgroup is not currently available".
3) when clicking on Computers Near Me in My Network Places or workgroup name in Entire Network, the following error message may appear: "Cannot Access 'Computers Near Me' " or "Workgroup is not accessible" errors.
4) when click workgroup name under Entire Network Places, you get "Workgroup is not accessible. You might not have permission to use this network resource. Contact the administrator of this server to find out if you have access permission.  The list server for this workgroup is not currently available."
5) Windows Explorer or My Network Places take a long time to open.
6) Event logs on servers show many master browser election messages.

Change master browser in w2k or XP:
Go to Program files, Admin tools, services then in the right panel right click on computer browser and right click go to properties then from the startup list select Disabled. Or type regedt32, and scroll to this key change value to False
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Browser\Parameters IsDomainMaster=FALSE

Change master browser in 9X:

From network neighborhood properties select File & print sharing, select and click properties then select "Master Browser" from the right list and choose disabled from the left list.

To start/stop Master Browser on Win2K/XP,  go to Administrative Tools>Services, start/stop the Computer Browser. You setup start automatically, select Administrative tools, Services, and change the Start setting for Computer Browsing to Automatic. You can then reboot the computer or start the service manually by clicking on the Start button.

As we mentioned, all domain controllers must be singlehomed for browsing to operate correctly. All domain controllers in a domain are by default browser servers. To disable multihomed Windows NT servers from becoming browser servers: 1) go to click Administrative Tools>Services>the  Properties of Computer Browser, and then click Manual. 2) Use Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe) to edit the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Browser\Parameters\MaintainServerList and change the value of this key to false NT and in Win 2000, instead of the value false, use the value, no. NOTE: The registry settings in this article do not work on a Windows 2000 DC if it is the PDC emulator.

To disable the Computer Browser Service on all Windows clients and servers, you may need to create three batch files that will include Netdom.exe, Nnetsvc.exe and Rreg.exe.

To encourage singlehomed computers to become the browser servers, open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Browser\Parameters\IsDomainMaster and change the value of this key to yes, quit Registry Editor, and then restart your computer. NOTE: The registry settings in this article do not work on a Windows 2000 DC if it is the PDC emulator.

In a small mixed OS workgroup network, you may want to disable W2K/XP master browser and keep w9x or NT master browser because XP/W2K always win elections over others, and other previous OS doesn't understand it.  To disable master browser on W2K/XP, go to Administrative Tools>Services, stop the Computer Browser.

You may experience browsing and/or NetBIOS name resolution problems if you install a DC on multihomed server. This is because each browser service bounds to each interface operates independently and does not merge the browse list for separate networks. The master browser is confused.

Resolution: Try to unbind the WINS Client (TCP/IP) interface from all your adaptors except for one

Symptoms: you have a workgroup network and most computers are win9x, NT and ME. After you add XP computer into the network, you can't browse other computers in workgroup list.

Resolutions: This is mostly like master browser issue. The simple solution is stopping Computer Browser service on the XP. To stop Computer Browser service, go to the Computer Management>Services and Applications>Services.

Re-register NetBIOS name

To re-register NetBIOS name, run nbtstat -RR command.

To troubleshoot browser problem, the important data is NetBT_<driver_name>, which indicates the protocol and network card binding, also known as an "endpoint." The potential protocols you may see are: Nbf_netcard = NetBEUI NetBT_netcard = TCP/IP (or NetBIOS over TCP/IP) NwlnkIpx = IPX/SPX (NwLink) [will not indicate netcard] NwlnkNB = NetBIOS over NwLink [will not indicate netcard].

The master browser of a domain is always the primary domain controller. If it's not, you will have a lot of trouble.



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