Computer Browser Service is a feature of Microsoft Windows to get a list of computers and shared resources on a network and supplies this list to the computers on the network. If this service is stopped or disabled or not installed, this list will not be updated and any services or tools that explicitly depend on this service will not work.
Computer Browser Service is deprecated or not installed by default
The Computer Browser service is a legacy service that depends on SMBv1 protocol (SMBv1 client/server components). Microsoft publicly deprecated the SMBv1 (Server Message Block version 1) protocol in 2014.
Since Windows 10 (1709), Windows Server (1709), and later versions, the SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support component (which includes the Computer Browser service) is an optional component, and it is no longer installed by default. You can refer to this post to know more details about SMBv1 support.
For security reasons, Microsoft is working hard to persuade users not to use SMB v1. For more details, see this post: Stop using SMB1/SMB1 isn’t safe, not modern, and not efficient.
Network Explorer and NET VIEW command will not work without Computer Browser service
As already mentioned, if the Computer Browser service is not installed or stopped, the services or tools which depend on this service will not work. The following listed tools and APIs will not work without this service.
Explorer Network Browsing – workaround
The Computer Browser service relies on the SMBv1 protocol to populate the Windows Explorer (aka “File Explorer”) Network node. Without this service, you will not be able to view the computers and shared resources on the current network.
However, if you still want to use the Explorer Network, you can enable the WS-Discovery protocol as a workaround that is recommended in the Microsoft Support article. You can follow the below steps on your Windows-based computers that no longer use SMBv1.
- Start the “Function Discovery Provider Host” and “Function Discovery Resource Publication” services, and then set them to Automatic (Delayed Start).
- When you open Explorer Network, enable network discovery when you’re prompted.
Note: This needs to be done on all Windows computers.
NET VIEW command
The above workaround might not work for the net view command, it will only enable the network browsing in Windows Explorer (File Explorer).
The net view command will return the following error message if the Computer Browser service is not available or not running.
PS C:> net view
System error 6118 has occurred.
The list of servers for this workgroup is not currently available
Install and Enable the Computer Browser service/SMBv1 feature
As already mentioned, for security reasons, Microsoft is working hard to persuade users not to use SMB v1 (which includes the Computer Browser service). But if you really need it, you can enable it in a client machine by following the below steps.
- Open the Control Panel -> Programs -> Turn Windows Features On or Off
- Scroll down and select SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support and click OK.
- Finally, restart the machine and check the service.