What is difference between a WINS server and a DNS server?
For a lot of people, the relationship between WINS and DNS is a bit of a mystery, but we are hoping to clear things up with your question.
To help explain, I'm going to use an example that will ensure you get the right picture on each of these services.
Consider a file server by the name 'Jupiter,' and the following two commands:
1. Ping Jupiter.space.net
2. Net use * \jupiter mainshare
The two above commands should look familiar. The first one simply sends a ping (icmp echo) packet to our file server, ensuring it's alive, while the second command calls the same server (Jupiter) in order to connect to a shared folder named 'mainshare.'
While both commands are referring to the same name (Jupiter), the difference between them is important.
Ping here uses DNS to resolve Jupiter.space.net to an IP address, e.g 126.96.36.199, while the 'net use' command make use of WINS to resolve the NetBios name 'Jupiter' to an IP address.
So you might be wondering why are there two different services essentially performing the same job?
The answer is that each of these services relies on different protocols -- they simply work in a very different way.
WINS is an essential part of the Microsoft networking topology. In the older days, you were required to run a WINS server in order to avoid name resolution problems within a Windows network. The NetBIOS (Windows machine names) protocol back then would only work on the NetBEUI transport protocol. If you ever ran Windows 95, you'd remember the netbeui protocol was always present in your networking properties, where as TCP/IP was optional.
Today, DNS has replaced WINS, since Microsoft made changes to NetBIOS, allowing it to use the TCP/IP stack to perform its job (NetBIOS over TCP/IP) and most DNS servers are able to handle NetBIOS requests. This is why WINS servers are becoming lesser day by day.
In short, DNS maps TCP/IP host names to IP addresses and WINS maps NetBIOS host names to IP addresses.
Dig deeper on IP Networking
Related Q&A from Chris Partsenidis1
What is the difference between a circuit switching and packet switching? Our networking fundamentals expert gives examples of packet switching and ...continue reading
Understand the TCP/IP stack and how to check if it is installed on your system in this networking fundamentals expert response.continue reading
Learn how to build a database server farm using different topologies, from network fundamentals expert Chris Partsenidis.continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.