Deleting and tombstoning records

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 8 Beta

Deleting and tombstoning records

WINS now provides improved database management through support for the following deletion operations:

  • Simple deletion, for deleting WINS database records stored on a single server database.

  • Tombstoned deletion, for deleting WINS database records replicated to databases on other WINS servers.

  • Multiple-group selection of displayed database records, for either simple or tombstoned deletion.

The WINS console also provides a simple and convenient utility for administratively removing records of any type, regardless of whether they are statically or dynamically added. In previous releases of Windows NT Server, other available WINS management tools could only administratively delete entries (such as static mappings) that were added in the same way.

How simple deletion works

Simple deletion removes the records that are selected in the WINS console only from the local WINS server you are currently managing. If the WINS records deleted in this way exists in WINS data replicated to other WINS servers on your network, these additional records are not fully removed. Also, records that are simply deleted on only one server can reappear after replication between the WINS server where simple deletion was used and any of its replication partners.

How tombstoning works

Tombstoning marks the selected records as tombstoned, that is, marked locally as extinct and immediately released from active use by the local WINS server. This method allows the tombstoned records to remain present in the server database for purposes of subsequent replication of these records to other servers.

When the tombstoned records are replicated, the tombstone status is updated and applied by other WINS servers that store replicated copies of these records. Each replicating WINS server then updates and tombstones these records. When all WINS servers complete replication of these records and a specified length of time (determined by the Verification Interval for each WINS server) elapses, then the records are automatically removed from WINS.

In most cases, WINS records should be tombstoned at the WINS server that originally owned them, to prevent deleted records from reappearing in WINS after subsequent replication with other servers.

The owner of a given WINS server record is typically the first server contacted by the WINS client during the registration process and the server first actually used to register the local names of the client in WINS. In most cases, the WINS server that owns a client name record in WINS corresponds to the primary WINS server configured on the WINS client computer. If the configured primary WINS server is not available during client registration, a configured secondary WINS server can perform the actual registration of the client name and become the owner.

Example: Tombstoned deletion in replicated WINS

Where tombstoned deletion is used at an owner WINS server in a replicated WINS network, the following sequence of events occurs to effect full removal of the selected records from all WINS servers that replicate the selected records.

  1. The owner WINS server marks and changes the status of the selected WINS records in its local WINS server database from Active to Tombstoned.

    WINS then treats the records as inactive and released from use. When these records are tombstoned locally, the owner WINS server does not respond to or resolve NetBIOS name queries for these names unless the records are registered again by the WINS client.

  2. The owner WINS server replicates the selected records as tombstoned at subsequent replication cycles.

    The records are not forcibly and immediately removed from WINS, but are flagged or marked for eventual deletion. The exact replication cycle interval is configured by the server Intervals properties, which you set in the WINS console. Records are not removed from WINS data until the time specified in the Extinction Interval has elapsed. This allows other WINS servers to be notified that these records are no longer in use, update their replicated mappings for these records, and further replicate this updated WINS data to other servers.

  3. Records become extinct on all replicated WINS servers and are eventually removed physically from all WINS servers.

    After all WINS servers that participate in replication complete a full replication cycle and arrive at a consistent state, the tombstoned records expire and are removed from the WINS database of each server at the next database scavenging operation. After scavenging occurs on all servers, the records no longer appear in the WINS console and are no longer physically stored in the WINS database.


  • Even if records are manually tombstoned (or otherwise marked as released by WINS), released records remain in the WINS database for some time before being completely removed during subsequent scavenging operations. Typically, the period before records extinction is the sum of the following settings:

    • Extinction interval

    • Extinction time-out

    • Verification interval

    You can view and configure these settings on the Intervals tab, located in the WINS <Server name> Properties dialog box. By default, the sum of these settings is 36 days.