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  • Workstations unable to browse server

    I have a new server with a fresh install of Server 2003 R2 in a workgroup setting with five workstations. The workstations lose the ability to browse the server after a few hours.

    The server works properly and has no errors logged in the event viewer. The workstations can ping the server but cannot browse by NetBIOS name or IP.

    Because this is not an Active Directory installation, I do not have DNS installed or WINS for that matter. DNS points to the default gateway and everything works fine for a few hours.

    I am not too experienced with stand-alone servers in a workgroup setting. Should I install DNS and WINS? The primary purpose of the server is to share a database application. Security is not an issue and that is why it was not installed as a DC.

    Suggestions are welcomed
    Network Engineers do IT under the desk

  • #2
    Re: Workstations unable to browse server

    Can't browse by NETBIOS or IP? If that's true then it doesn't sound like a name resolution problem.

    You can check to see if it's able to resolve the server by pinging it by name or IP address with the -a switch.
    Code:
    ping -a 1.2.3.4
    I know you probably already checked this but are you running a firewall or AV client? Are all the proper exceptions made?
    Regards,
    Jeremy

    Network Consultant/Engineer
    Baltimore - Washington area and beyond
    www.gma-cpa.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Workstations unable to browse server

      A few things come to mind, namely Windows services and firewall settings.

      As to the former, could something be shutting down networking services for some odd reason? Maybe run a "sc query state= >> runservices.txt" before and after the problem occurs and compare the results.

      As to the latter, are TCP ports 135, 137, and 138, as well as UDP port 139 blocked? (Thanks to this article for what ports NetBIOS runs on).

      Are any other networking services going wonky? RDP, ftp, etc..

      Have you turned on auditing before checking the event logs to see why the remote user accounts are being prohibited from accessing the server?

      Keep us posted!


      EDIT: ::Looks at JeremyW's comment on firewalls:: Drat! Cross posted again!
      Wesley David
      LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
      -------------------------------
      Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
      Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
      Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
      Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Workstations unable to browse server

        Thaks for the quick reply. I will be back on site tomorrow to try the ping command. There is no firewall on the LAN. The XP workstations have the firewall disabled. The server is running NOD32 Business and I don't think that's the problem becaus eit works for a while plus I run NOD32 on my server.

        Thanks,
        Network Engineers do IT under the desk

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Workstations unable to browse server

          Follow-up:

          "Ping -a" resolved the NetBIOS name. I really racked my brains on this. I thought maybe the Dell Gigabit NIC was having trouble negotiating on a 10/100 3Com so I swapped out the switch. Although I was not optimistic this was the problem, I installed WINS which I should have in the first place.

          While I was onsite, the workstations locked trying to access the shared drives on the server. I could ping the server but not browse it. One workstation shares an accouning file and I could browse that share. Rebooting the server solved the problem from any between 2 minutes and 1 hour before the problem repeated itself. I also noticed the server had a mapped drive that pointed to share on the same server. I disconnected this.

          I mentioned I had the firewall turned off but closer review of the firewall properties (Server 2003 R2 SP2) showed this NIC being managed by the firewall. There was a checkbox that indicated this NIC being monitored.

          I recall when I installed Vista Business that disabling the firewall did not really disable the firewall afterall and that some services (or traffic) did not work when the firewall was in a disabled state. I unchecked the box that said this network connection being monitored by the firewall. I also left the firewall setting disabled.

          I left the site at 10:45 this morning and every time my phone rang or an e-mail came into my phone I shuddered thinking it was my customer with the same problem - I was out of answers. It's almost 10 hours later and so far so good so I do not know specifically what I did but my guess is the firewall setting.

          Was there additional security issues to R2 with the service pack 2 in place that I overlooked?

          Thanks,
          Network Engineers do IT under the desk

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Workstations unable to browse server

            Strange. I don't really know what it was. There's a couple vague ideas in my head about what might have been the cause but it's just speculation.

            Let us know if it comes back.
            Regards,
            Jeremy

            Network Consultant/Engineer
            Baltimore - Washington area and beyond
            www.gma-cpa.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Workstations unable to browse server

              Originally posted by RobW View Post
              "Ping -a" resolved the NetBIOS name.
              JSYK, ping -a doesn't deal with NetBIOS, but rather DNS.



              Originally posted by RobW View Post
              I recall when I installed Vista Business that disabling the firewall did not really disable the firewall afterall and that some services (or traffic) did not work when the firewall was in a disabled state.
              Yeah, I found out the hard way that IPSec does not function properly when the Vista firewall is turned off. I was banging my head on my desk trying to figure out why a LinkSys VPN client wouldn't create an IPSec connection when everything seemed to be set up right.

              If it ever happens again, you could go really low-level and fire up Wireshark on the server to see what is and is not making it to the NIC.

              You also may want to turn on account auditing on the server and see if the workstation users are being denied logon or if they're even making it that far.
              Wesley David
              LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
              -------------------------------
              Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
              Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
              Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
              Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Workstations unable to browse server

                Originally posted by Nonapeptide View Post
                JSYK, ping -a doesn't deal with NetBIOS, but rather DNS.
                Actually it most certainly does use NetBIOS. But it also uses DNS.

                I haven't tested to see which one it uses first but it does use both.
                Regards,
                Jeremy

                Network Consultant/Engineer
                Baltimore - Washington area and beyond
                www.gma-cpa.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Workstations unable to browse server

                  Slightly , but it may be productive.

                  Originally posted by JeremyW View Post
                  Actually it most certainly does use NetBIOS. But it also uses DNS.

                  I haven't tested to see which one it uses first but it does use both.
                  Fascinating. I searched around a bit and couldn't find direct quote that stated how Microsoft's version of ping resolves hostnames. However, it would be safe to assume that it simply hands off the resolving duties to the standard "Microsoft TCP/IP Host Name Resolution Order". In which case, DNS is tried first before NetBIOS.

                  I may have been thinking of ping as a non-proprietary, vendor neutral tool thereby ignoring NetBIOS. I learned something new today!


                  EDIT: Some confusion enters my mind when Microsoft's documentation says that ping -a resolves to a hostname... but the term hostname is not synonymous with a NetBIOS name. Argh.
                  Last edited by Nonapeptide; 26th June 2008, 03:24.
                  Wesley David
                  LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
                  -------------------------------
                  Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
                  Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
                  Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
                  Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Workstations unable to browse server

                    Originally posted by Nonapeptide View Post
                    JSYK, ping -a doesn't deal with NetBIOS, but rather DNS.
                    This is not correct. I had no DNS server on the network at the time and when DNS and the local Host file cannot resolve a hostname, NetBIOS is used as a backup.

                    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/172218

                    The network has been working fine since 10:45 yesterday morning and I suspect it was the additional lock downs in SP2. I am most certain that my unchecking the lan connection being managed by the firewall, this corrected the problem.

                    Thanks for all the input.
                    Last edited by RobW; 26th June 2008, 04:07.
                    Network Engineers do IT under the desk

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Workstations unable to browse server

                      If you can ping the server with ping -a <ipaddress> and you get a reply without the FQDN then you receive the Netbios name.
                      If you get a reply with the FQDN then you get a reply from your reversed DNS lookup zone.
                      Marcel
                      Technical Consultant
                      Netherlands
                      http://www.phetios.com
                      http://blog.nessus.nl

                      MCITP(EA, SA), MCSA/E 2003:Security, CCNA, SNAF, DCUCI, CCSA/E/E+ (R60), VCP4/5, NCDA, NCIE - SAN, NCIE - BR, EMCPE
                      "No matter how secure, there is always the human factor."

                      "Enjoy life today, tomorrow may never come."
                      "If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill"

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