NetBIOS Session Service


The NetBIOS Session Service (NBSS) is a protocol designed to facilitate communication between various devices in a local network. It establishes a connection-oriented session layer, allowing programs on different systems to share data and resources seamlessly. As part of the NetBIOS suite, NBSS is majorly used with older Windows network operating systems and plays a prominent role in Windows network file sharing.

Key Takeaways

  1. NetBIOS Session Service (NBSS) is a connection-oriented, transport-layer protocol that enables communication between devices in a Windows-based network, allowing them to use NetBIOS names for identification.
  2. NBSS provides reliable session-based communication for applications, allowing them to establish, maintain, and terminate sessions, while ensuring data integrity and error detection during data transmission.
  3. Although NetBIOS Session Service is an older protocol and has been largely replaced by more modern technologies like DNS, it is still widely used in local area networks (LANs) and is supported by most operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and MacOS.


The NetBIOS Session Service is important because it plays a crucial role in facilitating communication between devices within a local network.

This technology, also known as “Session Layer Interface,” allows applications and systems to communicate in a standardized format, enabling file sharing, printer sharing, and messaging services in a Windows network environment.

Through managing and establishing stable connections, NetBIOS Session Service supports the seamless flow of data between devices, ensuring the reliable delivery of messages and enhancing overall network performance and efficiency.

Therefore, its significance lies in its ability to provide essential communication services for devices within a local network, thus making inter-device interactions and resource sharing more convenient and dependable.


The NetBIOS Session Service serves a critical purpose in network communication by providing a connection-oriented communication channel between devices across a network. This service allows devices to establish, maintain, and terminate connections, facilitating seamless data exchange between them. The primary use of the NetBIOS Session Service is to enable applications on different devices to share information and resources in a secure and organized manner.

It supports various applications and services like file sharing, print services, and directory services, which play an essential role in network management and resource allocation across devices. Moreover, the NetBIOS Session Service ensures that only authorized connections are established, and devices can trust the integrity of the data being exchanged. It does so by providing session-layer features like name registration, name resolution, and session management.

Name registration helps to uniquely identify devices on a network, while name resolution assists in mapping network device names to their IP addresses. Session management is responsible for the actual transmission of data packets and monitoring the connections between devices. By combining its various functions, NetBIOS Session Service simplifies network communication and boosts the efficiency of applications running on local area networks (LANs), making it a vital component of today’s interconnected digital world.

Examples of NetBIOS Session Service

NetBIOS Session Service (NBSS) facilitates communication between devices on a local network using the NetBIOS protocol. Here are three real-world examples illustrating its usage:

File Sharing:In an office setting, employees often need to share documents, images, or other files across computers on the local network. Using NBSS, computers on the network can locate and communicate with one another, enabling seamless file-sharing capabilities. For instance, a shared folder on a Windows computer can be accessed by other devices using the NetBIOS protocol.

Printer Sharing:NetBIOS Session Service is also used for printer sharing within a local network. In businesses or educational institutes, multiple devices often need to access the same printer. Configuring a shared printer using NBSS allows devices to discover and send print jobs to the printer over the local network.

Network Drive Mapping:In many organizations, centralized storage servers host shared folders that can be mapped to computers as network drives. Using NetBIOS Session Service, computers can locate these shared storage servers and map network drives, allowing users to access and manage files stored on the central server. This is common in companies that centralize data storage to manage backups and monitor file usage efficiently.

NetBIOS Session Service FAQ

What is NetBIOS Session Service?

NetBIOS Session Service is a protocol in the NetBIOS suite that provides a reliable, connection-oriented communication channel between two devices on a network. It manages the establishment, maintenance, and termination of sessions between devices and facilitates data transfer between them.

What is the role of NetBIOS Session Service?

The role of NetBIOS Session Service is to enable communication between devices on a local network, allowing them to share resources and perform tasks like file and printer sharing. It operates at the transport layer of the OSI model and provides session management, ensuring that data is sent and received correctly between devices on a network.

How does NetBIOS Session Service work?

NetBIOS Session Service works by establishing, maintaining, and terminating sessions between devices on a network. It uses a three-way handshake process for session establishment, where the client sends a request to the server, the server responds with an acknowledgment, and the client acknowledges the server’s response. Once a session is established, NetBIOS Session Service manages the communication between the devices, ensuring data is sent, received, and acknowledged correctly. When the session is no longer needed, the service handles its termination.

What is the difference between NetBIOS Session Service and NetBIOS datagram service?

The main difference between NetBIOS Session Service and NetBIOS Datagram Service is the communication method used. NetBIOS Session Service provides a connection-oriented communication channel, meaning that a dedicated connection is established between devices for the duration of the session. In contrast, NetBIOS Datagram Service is connectionless and provides a one-to-many communication mechanism, where messages are sent to multiple devices without prior establishment of a dedicated connection.

Is NetBIOS still used today?

NetBIOS is still used today in certain situations, but its usage has significantly decreased due to the growth of more modern networking protocols like TCP/IP. While NetBIOS was once the primary protocol for Windows-based networking, Microsoft has since shifted focus to using DNS for name resolution and SMB for file and printer sharing, which operate on the more widely-used TCP/IP protocol stack.

Related Technology Terms

  • NetBIOS Name Service (NBNS)
  • NetBIOS Datagram Service (NBDS)
  • NetBIOS over TCP/IP (NBT)
  • Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
  • Transport Control Protocol (TCP)

Sources for More Information

  • Microsoft Docs – Microsoft’s official documentation platform, featuring a wide range of technical information, including details about NetBIOS Session Service.
  • Cisco Systems – A technology company providing valuable resources like whitepapers and support documentation regarding networking technologies, including NetBIOS Session Service.
  • IBM – A well-known technology company, offering in-depth information on various networking technologies and services, including NetBIOS Session Service.
  • TechRepublic – A technology-focused website offering news, analysis, and advice on various technology subjects, including detailed resources about NetBIOS Session Service.

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