Understanding Computer Names

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 9, 2017)

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When you first start a computer with Windows installed on it (or when you first install Windows on an existing computer), you are asked to provide a name by which the computer will be known. Your computer's name is used to differentiate it from other computers on a network. The name can also be a help to other people on your network, so that they can identify your system.

In small networks, it is not unusual to give computers a name related to the person using the computer. For instance, I have a computer named "Allen" and another named "AllenLaptop." Computers might also be named according to their purpose, such as "AccountsReceivable" or "Shipping." These are just suggestions, however: What you name computers (and any conventions you may follow within your organization) is entirely up to you.

The key thing about computer names is that they must be unique within the network to which they are attached. This is why I have computers named "Allen" and "AllenLaptop": Because I cannot have two of them named "Allen."

In addition, there are some restrictions on what characters can be included within a computer name. You may have figured that out because I have a computer named "AllenLaptop" instead of "Allen Laptop." The reason is because you cannot use a space in a computer name. You also cannot use a quote mark ("), a comma, or any of the following: /\[]:;|+=?*_.

In order to change the name of your computer, check out this tip: Changing a Computer's Name.

 This tip (13166) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is one less than 7?

2017-10-09 06:26:31

Tom Van Dam

I work in a smaller company (60 people) with about 35 computers. We started naming computers based on the user but as we grew and a computer was moved to another person to give the original user an upgraded computer, the names became cumbersome. I know just use the initials of the company and a number (USA01, 02, etc.). This works effectively for us and I can put the user name in the description of the computer on the domain.


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