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Computer Browser (System Services for the Windows Server 2003 Family and Windows XP Operating Systems)

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Service Name: Browser

Executable Name: svchost.exe -k netsvcs

Log On As: LocalSystem

Description: Maintains an up-to-date list of computers on your network, and supplies the list to programs that request it. The Computer Browser service is used by Windows-based computers that need to view network domains and resources. Computers designated as browsers maintain browse lists, which contain all shared resources used on the network. Earlier versions of Windows applications, such as My Network Places, the NET VIEW command, and the Microsoft Windows NT Explorer, all require browsing capability.

There are several different roles a computer may perform in a browsing environment. Under some conditions (such as failure or shutdown of a computer designated for a specific browser role) browsers—or potential browsers—may change to a different role of operation. Windows NT assigns the following special roles to computers running the Computer Browser service:

  • Domain Master Browser - Used only in domain environments. By default, the DC (domain controller) for a domain operates in this role. The domain master browser collects and maintains the master browse list of available servers for its domain, in addition to any names for other domains and workgroups used in the network. It also distributes and synchronizes the master browse list for master browsers on other subnets that have computers belonging to the same domain.

  • Master Browser - Collects and maintains the list of available network servers in its subnet. The master browser fully replicates its listed information with the domain master browser to obtain a complete browse list for the network, and distributes it to backup browsers located on the same subnet.

  • Backup Browser - The backup browser receives a copy of the browse list from the master browser for its subnet, and distributes it to other computers upon request.

  • Potential Browser - Capable of becoming a backup browser when instructed to by the subnet's master browser, the potential browser operates similarly to a non-browser under normal conditions.

  • Nonbrowser - A nonbrowser is configured so it cannot become a browser, and it does not maintain a browse list. It can operate as a browse client, requesting browse lists from other computers operating as browsers on the same subnet. When the Computer Browser service is turned off there is no mechanism to discover other computers to populate the My Network Places, and so on.

If this service is stopped or disabled, computer browsing features will not be available.

Available on: Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional; Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition; Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition; Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition and Windows Server 2003, Web Edition.

Installed through: Default operating system installation

Startup type: Automatic

Service status: Started

This service depends on the following system components:



The following system components depend on this service: None

IP Port Numbers used:

TCP: 139

UDP: 137(browsing requests of NETBIOS over TCP/IP), 138 (browsing datagram responses of NetBios over TCP/IP)

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