Troubleshooting: XP File & Printer Sharing, Computer missing?

By LookinAround
Jun 10, 2008
  1. Troubleshoot: Part2, XP File & Printer Sharing, Computer missing? Chk Browser Service

    TROUBLESHOOT: Part2, XP File and Printer Sharing
    Computers Not Found? Diagnose Computer Browser Service

    File and Printer Sharing between Windows computers requires you properly select and configure a “mix-and-match” set of Windows components and options. For brevity, this guide refers to File and Printer Sharing as F&PS

    Network visibility and access errors are indicative of underlying problems in F&PS
    Visibility. You can’t find all Windows Network devices under My Network Places
    Access. Access/privilege errors occur when you open a workstation or workgroup you should have access to​
    This guide helps find and fix most causes behind Visibility and Access errors. The settings suggested are fairly generic and support most users. Once errors are fixed, you can further modify these settings as meet your needs
    The system details / instructions herein are specific to XP Pro and XP Home running SP2 or SP3. For other versions, you can still gain an understanding of “things to look for” but can’t use these instructions to fix other versions
    This guide is divided into 3 parts

    • Part 1, “Troubleshoot: XP File and Printer Sharing, Computers not found? Check your basic configuration focuses on common problems and F&PS configuration issues which cause visibility errors.
    • Part 2, (this document) focuses on Computer Browser Service and how it may cause visibility errors. The guide explains

      • The Computer Browser service and its role in a peer-to-peer Windows network
      • How the service might cause network visibility problems
      • Tools and methods to find, fix and prevent Browser problems
    • Part3, Troubleshoot: XP File and Printer Sharing, Fixing access privileges helps fix access errors between machines. This document not yet published
    This guide assumes your computers are on a single subnet. There are additional issues if on different subnets

    1. Overview
    NOTE: ”Browser” in this context has nothing to do with Internet Explorer

    Microsoft Windows Network is a networking protocol used between Windows based computers. It allows them to communicate with each other, share resources (files and printers) and function in a Windows architecture

    Computer Browser Service must be enabled and running on at least one computer per workgroup. (Rule of thumb: Run it on each wired LAN computer.) Browsers are dynamically assigned roles including:

    • Master. Browsers jointly "elect" one of themselves as Master. The Master “browses” the network to both maintain and distribute a browse list. The browse list contains info on computers and resources in the workgroup. This list is shared with others in the group
    • Backup. Backup browsers keep copies of the browse list and stand ready to elect a new master if the current one fails
    Computers not running the master don’t browse the net themselves. They obtain the browse list from a master or backup browser
    2. Issues of Design
    => 2a Multiple Masters
    There should only be one master browser
    However, a brief network interruption can force an election and a new master. When the old master reconnects some recovery scenarios may result in 2 masters. This then causes visibility problems. Use browstat to
    Confirm all computers report the same master
    View browser properties of each computer. Only one should be master

    To avoid problem scenarios
    • Only run browser service on LAN (not wireless) computers
    • Choose one reliable computer as “preferred master”. Modify registry keys under HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Browser\Parameters\ to influence elections. Possible key values are shown. Set bold value for preferred master

      Yes – Always a master or backup
      Auto – Windows chooses browser roles
      No – Never a browser

      True – Preferred master
      False – No preference
    If the problem still occurs, reduce number of backup browsers by disabling the service on some computers

    => 2b Time between change & effect
    By design, a change in Windows Network can take up to 45 minutes to be seen by all
    A workstation announces itself when started and is reannounced at up to every 12 minutes. If initial broadcasts are lost in net traffic, it may take up to 12 minutes for all the net to recognize a new workstation or group. Worse yet, and by design, workstation or group removal can take up to 45 minutes before it’s known to all

    To avoid this delay while testing
    • Restart master browser
      .– Find master’s host computer. Open command prompt. Enter Services.msc
      .– Right click Computer Browser ->Restart, or
    • Shutdown all then restart each machine
    3. Browstat
    Use browstat to troubleshoot browser services on your net: locate and confirm only one master, view and compare all browse lists, “announce” missing computers
    • Create directory C:\browstat
    • Download and unzip browstat into directory
    • Update PATH variable
      • Right click My Computer ->Properties ->Advanced ->Environment Variables
      • Select PATH from user variables and append ”;C:\browstat” to the end (without the quotes “”)
      • Click OK, close boxes

    Some Commands
    Run browstat from command prompt (Start ->Run, type cmd, hit OK)
    Some of the output lines below are numbered for clarity
    For brevity, TEST refers to the computer you’re using to test

    Returns transports monitored by Browser. Transport is a physical network card bound to a protocol
    > browstat dumpnet
    L1..1 \Device\NetBT_Tcpip_{AA68C027-7C03-418F-8EDE-273D3D63175F}

    L1: NetBT_Tcpip_ indicates “NetBIOS over TCP/IP” protocol
    .=> If you see other protocols, understand why
    .=> Disable LAN connection and re-run to verify device is in fact for the LAN
    .=> The digit preceding each transport will be used in other commands to indicate the transport

    Display Master status. Also try it using “status –v”
    > browstat status
    L1 Status for domain MYGROUP on transport \Device\NetBT_Tcpip_{AA68C027-7C03418F8EDE-273D3D63175F}
    L2….Browsing is active on domain
    L3….Master browser name is: XP-PRO2
    L4……..Master browser is running build 2600
    L5….1 backup servers retrieved from master XP-PRO2
    L7….There are 1 servers in domain MYGROUP on transport \Device\NetBT_Tcpip_{AA68C027-7C03-418F-8EDE273D3D63175F}
    L8….There are 1 domains in MYGROUP on transport \Device\NetBT_Tcpip_{AA68C027-7C03-418F-8EDE273D3D63175F}

    • [*]L1: For browstat, domains and workgroups are same
      [*]L3: Computer’s name running the master. Same name s/b reported by all computers. Else see #2a
      [*]L4: Indicates s/w build # of master. But, build # is solely debug info. Errors getting build # don’t always mean a problem with Browser services
      Error 5 can be issue of connectivity or access rights between TEST and master. You may defer to Part 3, this guide, which addresses access rights
      Error 53 Browstat uses Remote Registry service. You may see error if browstat accesses a master on
      – XP Pro not configured to allow remote registry access or on
      – XP Home (which has no Remore Registry service)
      [*]L7: # of computers in workgroup
      [*]L8: # of workgroups seen

    If no master exists, either no one is running a master or a firewall is blocking it. You’d see
    Browsing is NOT active on domain
    Master name cannot be determined from GetAdapterStatus

    Get browse list from master (default) or from \\host where host is a computer name
    > browstat view 1 \\XPHOME
    Remoting NetServerEnum to \\XPHOME on transport \Device\NetBT_Tcpip_{xxx } with flags ffffffff
    \\XP-PRO2 NT 05.01 (W,S,PQ,NT,PBR,MBR)
    \\XPHOME NT 05.01 (W,S,NT,PBR,BBR)

    W-workstation, S-server, PQ-print server, PBR-potential browser, MBR- master browser, BBR- backup browser

    Request all workstations announce themselves within 30 seconds
    > browstat forceannounce 1 MYGROUP
  2. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,473   +126

    I've mentioned this prior, but you have a lot of info

    Master browser can be done in the services.msc

    Master Browsers
    Computer Browser Started enabled set to auto
    Network Connections Started enabled set to auto

    None Master PCs

    Computer Browser disabled no started
    Network Connections enabled and started

    Browstat - status
    command is what most user can use
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