Definition of "NBNS Protocol"

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Definition of "NBNS Protocol"
NBNS references addresses on a network. (network image by dinostock from

NBNS officially stands for "NetBIOS Naming Service" but is commonly known as "NetBIOS Name Service." This is a system for registering member names on a NetBIOS-over-TCP network. On Windows systems NBNS is known as WINS (Windows Internet Names Service).

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When a new node is added to a NetBIOS network, it must be allocated a name which is unique within that network. In order to test whether the requested name was unique, the NetBIOS registration process would flood the network to seek that name. If no reply returned after a few seconds, it was assumed the name was available for a new node. This pause held up the registration process. NBNS was created to replace this procedure.


NBNS maintains a central register of all participants on a network. This enables a fast query to establish whether a requested name is already reserved. NBNS simplifies and speeds up the process of registering a new network node.


As with Network Address Translation (NAT) and the Domain Name System (DNS) NBNS can also translate to IP addresses. The name service is accessed through a set of request messages. The format of these messages is defined in the NBNS Protocol.

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