Hello and welcome to this topic, “Configuring DNS and WINS”. This is a multi-part series, and this is our first launch. Now you are wondering what is DNS, and what is WINS. It’s really very simple. In this treatise, we are going to learn what these two terms mean, how they work, how to configure them for our use, and where they almost get us confused from knowing which is at work. By the time we are through, you would have a solid understanding of DNS and WINS, you will be able to explain it to others, and most importantly, you will be able to configure and administer it to solve your personal information system problems, and that of larger organizations, leading up to your expertise as a solution expert in the Microsoft space. In the 70-410 and 70-411 exams, this aspect covers 15-20% of the total questions asked. It is a core area in technology, very vital architectural foundation for practically anything else in the information technology world. In this treatise, it is as vital to know the technical terms, but even more vital than the technical terms is the “understanding” and “comprehending” the romantic interplay of the components that underpin this areas.

What is a DNS

Starting with DNS, it is an acronym that stands for Domain Name Service. I have heard other people call it Domain “Naming” Service. If that is better for your tongue-twisting, it is totally okay. Now you know what DNS is. It has to do with domains. A good example of a domain is www.yahoo.com. Another domain you probably know again is www.google.com. Yes those are domains. In fact if you can afford it you can have a domain on your own name www.MyFirstnameMyLastname.com. These are popular internet domains. But there are other domains as well that are not available on the internet. They are still domains. A good example will be those used by private organizations, even public organizations and you could even have one for yourself at no special name cost. Imagine that you have an organization called XYZ, and you are into the production of alphabets A B C D E and the rest of them. If you are to set up an organizational domain, it can be anything you want to call it ranging from xyz.com; xyz.org, xyz.net, xyz.local, xyz.you. Just about anything you want to call it because it is internal and you have no need to take it to the internet world. And if you were to decide to take it to the internet world, there are ways to do it. That is just wonderful. This is the freedom the domain naming system offers. So, a DNS takes a domain name, or a service that a domain offers and maps it to a series of numbers that we call the IP address, where IP is an acronym meaning “Internet Protocol” and is in the format of xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (102.120.210.201; something like that, as long as the figure is not above 255. So take it out of your mind that an IP address can be 511.675.963.300, that cannot exist forever, it is not accepted when it is above 255). So now you know what a DNS is. So, what about the other guy, WINS. A typical DNS console from a server looks like this.

What is WINS

The acronym stands for Windows Internet Name Service. To explain this, you are aware that every computer has a name. My own PC right now is called JAMES-PC. This name is known as the NETBIOS name of that PC. Long before DNS became really so popular and overshadowed WINS, it was WINS that was the popular guy. WINS is Microsoft’s implementation of what was known back then as the NBNS (NETBIOS Name Service). It was a way to resolve computer name to IP addresses, and IP addresses back to computer names. While DNS is to resolving IP addresses to domain names, and domain names back to IP addresses. WINS was such a powerful guy in his time, and it still is, just not popularly pointed at, and it is taken for granted. While WINS is still provided for in Windows Server, its work is to enable a server to acts as a NetBIOS name server that can register, keep and resolve names for the applications that function with WINS, we call these applications WIN-enabled clients, but mostly computers are the primary consumers of WINS server. The sad part of the story that made WINS lose its fame is because later versions of Windows including Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 use Domain Name System (DNS) names in addition to NetBIOS names. And it is such that if you do not have operating systems older than this, or legacy applications from that same world (I think they died in the DNS-led genocide) then you really don’t need WINS, because DNS is far more effective. Sorry WINS. I mean, you were supposed to win, but its fate I guess.

How to Install DNS

First off, back then when planning something like this, you just go straight-in. Right now, the challenge is what version of Windows Server am I basing this installation procedure? Well, I can use Windows Server 2003, or 2008, or 2012. I will opt for 2008 just so to stay in neither extremes. And if you can sort out a 2008 install, then a 2012 installation will be no big deal at all. Now, remember that the principle behind the DNS system is that it should be used in TCP/IP networks for naming computers and other network services such as intranet websites, extranet websites, resource services such as printing services, file services, and anything else that can be conceived. Now because DNS naming locates computers and services through user-friendly names. When a user enters a DNS name in an application, DNS services can resolve the name to other information that is associated with the name, such as an IP address, or call up the application or service to render an interactive session, or a non-interactive session in the background. Basically, a DNS service is frequently installed with the Active Directory Domain Services (ADDS), or it can be done much later independently using the Server Manager’s Add Roles option in the console. The console looks like this:

It is important to state here that there are a few questions you will have to answer before you start your DNS installation procedure so you don’t have to halt and start scratching your head when you meet a dialog box you don’t understand. These considerations are:

  1. Determine if you are adding the DNS server role to support Active Directory or if you just want an independent DNS server that will accept request or forward requests.
  2. Next is to obtain the IP address of one or more DNS servers hosted by your ISP to use as a forwarder.
  3. Find all the security policies of your network and/or company to make sure you are not breaching, then see how they can be maintained when broadcasting DNS data over the Internet if that is part of your objective.
  4. Choose the first DNS domain name for your company, and know that this name will be the first DNS zone.
  5. Check with your ISP to determine that your network Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are registered with an Internet registrar. Register your DNS domain name with an Internet registrar. This is not needed if you are just playing with this feature to test.
Step by Step Installation

From the Start menu, select Administrative Tools –> Server Manager.

Expand and click Roles from the left window. Choose Add Roles.

Select the DNS Server role. If you meet any item checked when you came to this dialog box, leave it alone, and do not uncheck them. Simply select the DNS role you want to add.

Click NEXT and then INSTALL to install DNS in Windows Server 2008.

The DNS role is installed, and you get this. Click CLOSE.

Then navigate back to the Administrative Tools console and launch DNS.

Right-click your computer name and choose Configure a DNS Server.

The Configure a DNS Server Wizard is launched. Click NEXT and then select the first option, Create a Forward lookup zone (recommended for small networks).

When you get to the next screen, leave the default option selected, This Server maintains the zone, and click NEXT.

Enter the domain name that you want to create your first zone.

Click NEXT, and NEXT again on the next two screens.

On the Forwarders screen, select the option “No, it should not forward queries“.

Click FINISH. DNS is now configured for basic operations.

In the next part, we will delve into configuration of DNS to meet certain general needs and specific needs of your enterprise. We will take a look at the tools available, the command line and GUI (Graphical User Interface) that we can use to do management tasks. Recursive and non-recursive queries, authoritative name servers, DNS resolver, circular dependencies and glue records, reverse lookup, record caching, dynamic zone updates, forwarders, client lookup, uninstalling DNS, among others. It is good to note that with Windows Server 2008 came with the ability for DNS to support IPv6 which up till now was not the case in earlier version of Windows Server.