Knowledgebase: WinGate VPN
Netbios and Windows Browsing in WinGate VPN
Posted by Adrien de Croy (Import) on 18 December 2003 12:44 PM
Within most Windows local networks a large amount of its ability to share resources is based upon a feature called Netbios. The Netbios protocol is used to help designated PC’s (called Master and Backup browsers) manage the naming/identification of machines, and the availability of resources on Windows based networks. A feature of Windows, since 3.1, Netbios is well entrenched in the structure of Windows based Networks.

Note: For information on the specifics of how Netbios and Browsing services are created and supplied please refer to Microsoft for information on each operating system type.

Since WinGate VPN is really just extending the local network functionality to remote joining PC’s/Lans, for network resources to be made available to all, the Lan machines must be able to locate and identify these resource lists.

Often there will be a considerable delay when browsing machines across the VPN and trying to access their resources (shared folders, drives etc) as Netbios enumeration can take a while to broadcast and propagate the list of available resources (shared folders, PC names etc).

This is sometimes the reason that it will take a long time (especially over dialup connections, for individual machines to show their available resources.)

To ensure that browsing for machines and resources across a WinGate VPN is possible and works as efficiently as it can, users should ensure the following:
  1. If all machines behind the WinGate VPN server (hosting the VPN) are going to be participating in the WinGate VPN, then they should all have the internal Ip of the WinGate server set as their default gateway.
  2. Ensure that appropriate drives/ with the appropriate permissions are configured to share just as they would be across the local network.
  3. IP address conflicts (these will show up in the published routes section in the WinGate VPN) are resolved. This can cause routing problems if the two different Lans share the same IP address scheme.
  4. Ensure that the machine which is the Master browser is able to respond to resource requests (i.e. it is configured as part of the LAN particpating in the VPN, and so able to route requests properly, with its Gateway configured to point at the WinGate VPN host server).
All of these things will help to create and efficient sharing and viewing of resources, more easier in a WinGate VPN and minimize the delays in obtaining resources that can occur through Netbios enumeration and the Windows browsing service.
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