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Difference Between WINS and DNS

mac_ipWINS vs DNS

WINS is an abbreviation for Windows Internet Name Service and DNS stands for Domain Name System. As the name suggests, WINS is specifically for devices based on Windows, like PC’s, laptops or NT servers. On the other hand, DNS is mainly for servers and network devices. WINS is basically platform dependent, whereas DNS is platform independent, and works for Windows, Linux, Unix, Cisco, etc. WINS is used for dynamic IP addresses, like DHCP systems, where the IP addresses keeps changing hourly. Contrarily, DNS is primarily used for only static IP addresses, like servers or gateways, where the IP addresses remain the same. DNS does not support DHCP systems.

The primary purpose of WINS is to resolve the NetBIOS names to IP addresses, and not vice-versa. The names included in WINS are in one flat namespace and 15 characters in length, and, the registration of these names is done automatically with dynamic IP addresses. DNS is used for resolving host names to IP addresses, and can also perform a reverse search, i.e. translating IP addresses to host names, when required. The names included in a DNS are in a hierarchical structure and consist of any octet expressible character. The full domain name in a DNS can be up to a maximum of 253 characters. The registration for these DNS names is manually configured with a static IP address.

WINS endorses incremental reproduction of the data, which implies that only modifications made to the database are copied between WINS servers. This is done periodically to maintain consistency. Whereas, DNS does not approve such incremental reproduction of the data, and copies the entire database whenever any sort of changes are made. When registering a domain to get it hosted, it usually takes 2-3 days to get the IP address distributed and updated amongst all the DNS servers. However, this is not the case with WINS, as the IP address mappings are updated dynamically, and these updated IP addresses are accessible to all the clients on the network.

WINS is used mainly for those clients that are related to Microsoft, and are on Microsoft networks. These clients can register their name only once. However, DNS is basically used on the Internet and also on local computer networks, and uses TCP/IP addressing mode or TCP/IP hosts. With DNS, administrators can produce multiple distinct aliases for a single host. WINS does not support TCP/IP application services like email routing, whereas, DNS supports all TCP/IP application services.


1. WINS is platform dependent, whereas DNS is platform independent.

2. WINS supports dynamic IP addresses, whereas DNS supports static IP addresses.

3. WINS translates the NetBIOS names to IP addresses, while DNS translates host names to IP addresses.

4. WINS supports incremental reproduction of the data for any modifications, while DNS copies the entire database.

5. WINS does not support TCP/IP application services, whereas, DNS supports all TCP/IP application services.

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  1. Excellent article. Now I’m trying to install DNS on Windows and Ubuntu Server. I will make a performance test of these OS running DNS. Thanks.

  2. Very good article, it helped really well…

  3. Some of the things mentioned are not true:

    1. You can use DNS with DHCP. This is possible since DNS now allows dynamic updates.
    2. DNS Zone transfer (database replication) is available in 2 modes: full (opcode AXFR) and incremental (IXFR)


  4. hi,
    very good article got enough info..thanks

  5. very nice article

  6. Good and simple explanation. Good job

  7. There’s a lot of bad information here. DNS handles DHCP just fine. In a Domain environment, DNS fully supports incremental (delta) replication.

    Internal DNS (on a Domain) updates as fast as the rest of active directory for AD-integrated DNS Zones, and replication intervals are fully configurable for non-integrated zones. You are conflating DNS with the external Domain Registration process required to provide internet access to a resource – a function which WINS does not and cannot provide.

  8. Very good article to describe the difference between Net bios and DNS and what the jobs they do.

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