Normally, when Windows 2000 is used for Internet Connection Sharing, the default is to have Windows use the ISP's DNS servers rather than any local servers. This can be problematic; many people who use remote-hosted DNS servers complain about constant outages or lookup failures. Even though Windows 2000 workstation (as well as other Microsoft desktop OSes) cache DNS lookup information, they don't do so with a great deal of robustness, and so perform lookups quite often. If an ISP's DNS server is exceptionally burdened, the lookups can time out.
Windows 2000 Server comes with its own DNS server, which performs hostname lookups (and registers DNS entries for Active Directory). It is, however, sometimes too much of a burden for a smaller machine that is only being used as a routing server. Some administrators may want to install a third-party DNS server on Windows, an implementation of BIND that is not as burdensome in size or system resources. A set of Win32 binaries and source code for BIND can be downloaded directly from the ISC. BIND is generally regarded as being cleaner and more authoritative than Microsoft's DNS server.
One of the best (and cheapest) third-party ports of BIND is BIND-PE, a free port of the BIND server to the Win32 platform. BIND-PE runs not only on Windows servers, but on XP Home and Professional as well, allowing a simple gateway computer to be turned into a full DNS server for an organization. The program installs automatically, and all an administrator needs to do is direct DNS lookups to 127.0.0.1 on the server itself. BIND-PE is easier to use than the original BIND and supports BIND 9 configurations, but comes with no technical support.
Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. Check out his Windows 2000 blog for his latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators – please share your thoughts as well!
This was first published in July 2003