Network Neighborhood / My Network Places / Find Computer

How does the “Network Neighborhood“/”My Computer Places” work ?
Please, spend the time to learn about this, it explains the sometimes strange behavior.
On a network based on Microsoft networking, there MUST be for each workgroup one system
acting as the book-keeper, this system is called the “Browse-Master“.
When you have a network of Windows95/98/ME/2000/XP systems and you switch on these systems,
one of first things done by the network-software is to check on the network for the presence of
a Browse-Master:

If no Browse-Master is found, then a Browse-Master is elected.
Only a system with “File-and-Printer Sharing” installed can be elected to become a Browse-Master
On a network with a mixture of Windows95/98.ME and Windows NT/2000/XP systems,
the “strongest system” wins the election and becomes the Browse-Master.
strength of Windows Versions :
– Windows 3.x ————- > “weakess system”
– Windows 95
– Windows 98
– Windows ME
– Windows NT4 Workstation
– Windows 2000 Workstation (internal name : NT 5.0)
– Windows XP (internal name : NT 5.1 ) —–> “Strongest system”
On a network with a Windows NT or 2000 server, the server becomes the Browse-Master,
( a server is always “stronger” than a workstation )
each system sends the list of available shared resources to the Browse-Master:

if you use the “Network Neighborhood” / “My Network Places” to view the list of available
resources on the network, then your system sends a request to the Browse-Master, which sends
back the list of the available resources back for display:

to be able to use the network, it is required on
Windows95/98/ME to have as part of the
Network configuration the
Client for Microsoft Networks
and you must define as
Primary Network Logon” to use the
Client for Microsoft Networks

and when powering on / starting up your system , you must “Logon” to the system using the
Network login (“Enter Network Password” ) :

If you press the ESC-key or click on “Cancel” then you did NOT validate your
network Username and will not have access to the network , i.e. you can not use the
Network Neighborhood“/”My Computer Places” !

This “Master Browser” configuration and its election process explains now some of the “strange”
behavior of the Network-Neighborhood:

Your own system does NOT have
File-and-Printer Sharing” installed:
Your system could not find a
“Browse-Master” on the network.
Your own system has
File-and-Printer Sharing” installed:
Only your own system is displayed,
not any other system on the network.

First: after switching on Windows, it can take a few minutes to elect the Browse-Master,
it may help to close the “Network Neighborhood” and open it again after a few minutes.
Second: when a system is switched on or off later, it can take up to 15 minutes before the
display-list of the Browse-Master is updated (for deatils, see the Resource-kit )
If you are still not getting a proper display, then check the following:
– verify, that all systems are defined to use the SAME workgroup.
– only systems with “File-and-Printer Sahring” installed and SOMETHING shared are displayed.
test the network connection

There are some network configurations, where you can not use the Network Neighborhood,
like on some Dialup-Network connections (via modem) or when using a Direct-Cable connection.
In such cases, use “Find Computer” to access other systems.

Select in the Windows menu
Find“, then “Computer“,
and enter the computername of
the system to access , then
use “Find Now”.
It will search the network,
( not asking the Master Browser)

When using “My Network Places”,
use the “Search” button and then
enter the system, which you like
to access (with or without the
help of Fido/Rover, the animated dog)
( all WIndows versions)
You can also search for a system by
entering in the RUN- windows (on the
windows menu) the computer-name
preceeded by double-backslash, like:

On networks using TCP/IP-protocol, you can find out which system is acting as Browse-Master.
If you like to control yourself, which system is acting as the Browse-Master :

view the “Properties” of the “File and Printer Sharing“:
by default, the setting for “Browse Master” is “Automatic“, which is causing the systems to
elect a Browse-Master.
You can name a system to be the Browse-Master by changing the “Browse Master” value to
Enabled“, but then you MUST on ALL other systems in this workgroup change the value
to “Disabled“.

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