Definition of NetBIOS in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is NetBIOS?

Stands for Network Basic Input/Output System, a specification created by IBM and Microsoft that allows distributed applications to access each other’s network services independent of the transport protocol used.

NetBIOS provides network input/output services to support client/server applications on a network. From an architectural viewpoint, the NetBIOS specification defines two things:

  • An interprocess communication (IPC) mechanism or application programming interface (API) that allows applications that are NetBIOS-enabled to communicate remotely over a network and request services from lower levels of the protocol stack. This is the primary and original definition of NetBIOS.
  • A protocol operating at the session and transport layers of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) reference model that enables functions such as session establishment and termination as well as name registration, renewal, and resolution.

NetBIOS has more overhead than other IPC mechanisms. NetBIOS can take different forms depending on the network protocol on which it is running. The following table lists some common network protocols and the form that NetBIOS takes on each.

NetBIOS Protocol Stacks

Network Protocol Name When Combined with NetBIOS
NBF (NetBEUI Frame protocol)
NWLink IPX/SPX-Compatible Transport
NetBT (NetBIOS over TCP/IP)

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