What criteria are used to decide which machine will be the Master Browser?

A. There are 5 roles a machine can have

  • Master Browser - This machine maintains the list of resources on the network and listens for announcements from other machines to add to the browse list.
  • Domain Master Browser - The primary domain controller (DC) of a domain is given a special bias in browser elections so that it will become the Domain Master Browser. This design ensures effective browsing when a domain spans multiple subnets. The Master Browser on each subnet uses a directed datagram to announce itself to the Domain Master Browser. The directed announcement is made possible through an entry in the LMHOSTS file on the Master Browsers for the DC. Using the LMHOSTS file requires a Windows 2000 Professional, Windows NT Advanced Server, NT Server, or NT Workstation computer to browse across WAN connections.
  • Preferred Master Browser - A machine can be designated as the preferred master browser and when this machine starts it will force a browser election and will win unless one of the other machines is the PDC or also has the preferred master browser flag set.
  • Backup Browser - This type receives a copy of the browse list from the master browser, if it cannot find the Master Browser it will force an election.
  • Potential Browser - This does not receive a copy of the browse list, but can be promoted to a backup browser by the master browser, or actually become the master browser as the result of an election.
  • Non-Browser - A non-browser does not maintain a browse list.

When an election takes place, a number or criteria are used. Firstly the browser type

  • Preferred master
  • Master
  • Backup browser
  • Potential browser

If two machines have the same role then the operating system is used

  • Windows NT Server that is the PDC
  • Windows NT Server that is a BDC
  • Windows NT Server
  • Windows NT Workstation
  • Windows 95
  • Windows for Workgroups

If there is still a tie, the Windows NT version is used

  • 4.0
  • 3.51
  • 3.5
  • 3.1

To set a machine as a certain type of browser perform the following

  1. Start the registry editor (regedit.exe)
  2. Move to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Browser\Parameters
  3. Double click on MaintainServerList
  4. Set to
    No - for the computer to be a non-browser
    Yes - the computer will be a master or backup browser
    Auto - will be a master, backup or potential depending on the number of browser currently in action
  5. Click OK
  6. Close the registry editor and reboot

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.