Naming Rules for Computers on Windows Networks

Windows 7, XP and 2000

Computers in empty office
Getty Images/Chris Ryan

The Importance of Name Rules in Windows 7, XP and 2000

When setting up a peer-to-peer Windows network, each computer name must be configured properly. Computers having names that violate Windows guidelines may, for various technical reasons, fail to network with their peers on the LAN.

Naming Rules for Computers on a Peer-to-Peer Windows Network

Ensure your computers are named appropriately according to the following rules:

  • No two computers can possess the same computer name. Ensure all computer names are unique.
  • Ensure each computer name is no longer than 15 characters.
  • Ensure no computer name contains spaces. Very old (Windows ME and prior) versions of Windows do not recognize computers having space characters in their name.
  • Avoid special characters in computer names. Whenever possible, do not use any of these characters when naming Windows computers: / \ * , . " @
  • Avoid using lower-case letters in a computer name whenever possible. On Windows Vista, the case of letters (upper or lower) is ignored. Older versions of Microsoft Windows, however, treat computer names as case sensitive. Entering computer names in all upper case is recommended to avoid possible name conflicts that would prevent Windows computers from identifying each other.

Setting or Changing a Computer Name

Set or change a computer name in Windows as follows:

  • Windows 7 - from the Start menu, right-click on Computer and click the "Change settings" link next to the Computer name displayed
  • Windows XP - right click My Computer, or open the System icon in​ the Control Panel, then choose the Computer Name tab
  • Windows 2000 - open the System icon in Control Panel and choose the Network Identification tab, then click the Properties button.
  • on older versions of Windows, open the Network icon in Control Panel and choose the Identification tab