Difference between Netbios and Host name

Active Directory
Microsoft Windows
Networking services
Dear all,

I am preparing for MCSE certifications. Could you please let me know what is the difference between Netbios name and Host name. According to me WINs server will be used for Netbios Name resolution and DNS servers will be used for Hostname resolution. Both names specifies the machine name only, But where the actual difference comes? Please let me know what NetBios name specifies and what Host name specifies.

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Hostnames or NetBIOS names were used to provide a friendlier means of identifying servers or workstations.

NetBIOS names is based on an older protocol and should be used within a LAN only and registers itself on that network everytime that PC is powered up or rebooted using LMHOSTS, broadcasts or WINS to provide resolution of a NetBIOS hostname to it’s IP address. Thet are limited to 16 characters in length with 15 characters visible. NetBIOS names cannot be used as part of a doamin. The underscore character “_” is only used in NetBIOS names.

Hostnames TCP/IP based are resolved either with a static HOSTS file on your PC or from a DNS service. They typically are used as part of a domain. The hostname uses “-” instead of “_” as most DNS will reject this character and can be up to 255 characters in length.
From Windows 2000 on you can disable NetBIOS and your network will be a lot quieter. I would recommend acquiring some basic TCP/IP books which also cover NetBIOS and experiment with your systems. You wil really need two PC’s minimal and some sort of sniffer tool to understand. You can read all you want, but until you play with these two protocols it won’t really click. The NetBIOS name cannot be readily distinguished from a hostname until you get a domain established. I have only glossed over this question and I am sure others will throw in probably better explanations.

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  • Jstew65
    I came across this ancient bookmark of mine when I was studying for the same about 2-3 yrs ago: http://members.tripod.com/xdluvnx/notes_on_tcp.htm Beware it is tripod page -- make sure your popup blocker is on! At any rate, it has some very good simple networking information that did help me a bit. It also includes some of the unnecessary trivia (but necessary for the tests!) that you will need to know for these ridiculous cert tests. Good luck!!! Harlin Seritt
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  • Nandhanaresh
    NetBios Name: NetBios Name is the computer(Host) name which is proprietary for windows. Host Name: Host Name is also the Computer(Host) name which is general for all Environments i.e. in Linux, Unix and Windows as well. So the Main Difference is Windows-NT is only capable of resolving NetBios name to IP that means it doesn't have capability resolves the Linux or Unix Systems Names to IP. But Windows2000 and earlier Servers have capability of resolving Host Names(what ever Environments may be Linux Or Unix or Windows ) to IP.
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  • Pjb0222
    NetBIOS is a set of services: Naming, session, datagram. Wikipedia has a great explanation and see KB119493 for info from MS. NetBIOS itself is not a network protocol but is implemented on top of network protocols. You will see it referred to as NetBIOS over TCP/IP, NBT, or NetBT. The DNS host name and NetBIOS names are often the same but are not required to be the same. For Windows systems, they are almost always the same. NetBIOS names are 16 characters total. Only 15 are used for the name with the 16th character used to define the NetBIOS services a system provides. And here is the reason most windows systems only allow 15 characters for the name. NetBIOS can be used in conjunction with WINS servers. The WINS servers are used to provide a name lookup service for NetBIOS names and services. NetBIOS use can be local broadcast, WINS lookup or a hybrid. The current default is hybrid. In DNS, you register a primary name and then as many cnames as you like. For NetBIOS you have the primary and as many alternate names as you desire. Using both WINS and DNS allows you a backup naming solution to find resources. It does complicate your design and troubleshooting. It can also be used to help segregate internal versus external devices. NetBIOS was designed to stay inside the LAN or corporation. It does not have a FQDN form like DNS and is generally not resolvable outside of an organization or over the internet. Inside an organization with a properly configured DNS suffix search order, resolution of a short form name can be transparent to the user. Using the short form of a system name may resolve either by NetBIOS broadcast in the local LAN, from WINS name servers or a DNS server. Order of resolution is program and configuration driven. And thus, resolving a name resolution issue in a multiple naming solution network becomes "fun" for the technician. Tools to use for troubleshooting include: ipconfig nslookup nblookup nbtstat
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