Knowledgebase: WinGate
More on WinGate Random Dialing
Posted by Adrien de Croy (Import) on 27 September 2003 05:19 AM
If you use a modem to connect your network to the Internet with WinGate, you may occasionally see WinGate dial your Internet Service Provider for no apparent reason. There are a number of reasons why you might encounter what may seem to be WinGate randomly dialing.

Cause 1 - Local network client machines making DNS requests

WinGate will dial when a client machine on your network makes a DNS request. This happens where the client machine is using the WinGate machine as its DNS server, and the WinGate DNS server is configured to dial. You can verify whether this is the case or not by looking at the History tab using the control and configuration GateKeeper utility in WinGate.

DNS requests could be caused by any of the following:

  • Normal use of the Internet by users on your local network (LAN)
  • Internet applications which may poll the Internet on a regular basis looking for updates. Windows update itself can even do this on some operating systems.
  • Local machines making NetBIOS requests using DNS to look up other machines on your network. Some operating systems allow you to disable this.
  • Machines participating in an Active Directory. Active Directory makes extensive use of DNS to locate directory services.
Remedy

The simplest way to stop WinGate from dialing in these cases is to disallow the DNS server in WinGate from initiating the dialer.

To do this:
  1. Log in to GateKeeper
  2. Click on the DNS service on the System Tab
  3. On the General tab in the DNS service properties, uncheck the box marked "Allow Request to initiate dialer".
Note: This has a number of side effects, the main one being that dialing on demand may not work as you expect.The extent to which this may cause a problem is dependent on the method you use for your network client machines to connect to the Internet.

WinGate has 3 methods of allowing clients to connect to the Internet:
  • Using WinGate's ENS driver to connect by means of Network Address Translation (NAT).

    Machines on your network will be using this if you have the ENS driver installed, and the local machines are configured to use WinGate as either their DHCP server (in which case their default gateway setting will be set to the IP address of the WinGate machine).

    In this case, the effect for these machines will be to effectively disable dial on demand completely, since these machines will need to be able to complete a DNS lookup before they will attempt to connect to anything on the Internet.


  • Using the WinGate Internet Client on your client computers.

    As with NAT above, the WinGate Internet Client requires that the client machines are able to complete a DNS lookup to resolve the name of the host they are connecting to before there will be any connection attempt.

    So similarly to the instructions above, if you choose to disallow WinGate's DNS server from dialing, then dial on demand will be effectively disabled for these users.

  • Using Proxies in WinGate, for example the WWW Proxy.

    In this case, the client does not need to resolve an Internet address, as it connects to the proxy, issues the proxy an instruction to fetch a URL, and WinGate itself resolves the host name with DNS. In this case however, WinGate controls dialing separately. Therefore if your client machines are using this method to connect to the Internet, there will be little side-effect to disabling the DNS server from dialing.

If you decide that you do not wish to disable WinGate's DNS server from initiating the dialer, you have several other remedies.

You could:
  • Attempt to stop the client machines from making the DNS requests.
  • Look on your client machines for applications that run in the background, ticker-tape applications, instant messenger applications, etc.
  • Configure your client machines not to use DNS for windows name resolution.
  • Find out which names are being looked up by looking in the WinGate history database, and ban these lookups. The lookups will then fail in all cases, but will not cause WinGate to dial the Internet.
CAUSE 2 - Local network client machines initiating a connection to the Internet through WinGate.

WinGate will dial when a client on your LAN initiates a connection, or tries to send a data packet(not necessarily a connection attempt) to the Internet, where WinGate ENS is installed, and WinGate is configured to dial on demand.

This will show up in WinGate's history as a NAT connection.

In general, clients do not attempt to connect to the Internet without first locating the address of where they wish to connect to, and this is achieved using a DNS lookup, so usually the reason that WinGate seems to dial unnecessarily is because of DNS lookups.

However if your client machines have access to another DNS server on the network that can resolve Internet names, or where the client software is configured to use an IP address to connect to, it is sometimes possible to get packets sent without having had a preceding DNS lookup to resolve the name into an address.

Remedy

You could:
  • Mark the site as local Found in the Dialer configuration in GateKeeper. You will likely need to enter the IP address in here. When a client tries to connect to that address, WinGate's dialer will deem it to be local, and will not dial the Internet.

    You can find information about what sites are being connected to in the WinGate History in GateKeeper. Further information may be found in the WinGate service log files, in the log directory in the WinGate install directory.
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