NetBIOS name

Definition of NetBIOS name in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is NetBIOS name?

A 16-byte name for a networking service or function on a machine running Microsoft Windows NT. NetBIOS names are a more friendly way of identifying computers on a network than network numbers and are used by NetBIOS-enabled services and applications.

NetBIOS names are used by Windows NT applications such as Windows Explorer and Network Neighborhood as well as by the Windows NT net commands.

In Windows 2000, NetLogon and other networking services now register in DNS, but legacy network command-line applications still use NetBIOS names to access these services.

How It Works

Each service that is NetBIOS-enabled requires a unique NetBIOS name to identify it on the network. This NetBIOS name consists of a name assigned to the computer during installation, which can be up to 15 characters, along with a 1-byte hexadecimal sixteenth character that identifies the type of service or function. The 15-character name can be the computer name, the domain name, or the name of the user who is logged on.

For example, the sixteenth character identifying the Windows NT Messenger service has the 1-byte hexadecimal identifier 03h. On a computer running Windows NT named SERVER12, the Messenger service would be uniquely identified on the network with the NetBIOS name SERVER12[03h]. NetBIOS names are also distinguished by whether they are

  • A unique name, which applies to a single IP address
  • A group name, which applies to a subnet group of IP addresses
  • A multihomed name, which applies to a multicast group of IP addresses

The following table shows some of the more common suffixes that constitute the hidden sixteenth character of a NetBIOS name and the networking service with which they are associated.

Common Suffixes for NetBIOS Names

Suffix (Hex) First 15 Characters Networking Service
00
Computer name
Workstation service
00
Domain name
Domain name
03
Computer name
Messenger service
03
User name
Messenger service
06
Computer name
RAS Server service
20
Computer name
File Server service
21
Computer name
RAS Client service
1B
Domain name
Domain master browser
1C
Domain name
Domain controllers
1D
Domain name
Master browser
1E
Domain name
Browser service election
TIP

To view the NetBIOS names registered for your computer, use the nbtstat command.