Naming Rules for Computers on Windows Networks

Violating Naming Rules Causes Computers Not to Network Properly

Computers in empty office
Getty Images/Chris Ryan

When setting up a peer-to-peer Windows network, each computer name must be configured properly. Computers running Windows 7, XP, and 2000 with names that violate Windows guidelines may, for various technical reasons, fail to network with their peers on the local area network (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.
  • Each computer name should be no longer than 15 characters.
  • Ensure no computer name contains spaces. Old versions of Windows ((Windows ME and earlier) do not recognize computers that have space characters in their names.
  • Avoid special characters in computer names. Do not use any of these characters when naming Windows computers: / \ * , . " @
  • Avoid using lowercase 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 uppercase is recommended to avoid possible name conflicts that could prevent Windows computers from identifying each other.

Setting or Changing a Computer Name

Set or change a computer name in Windows 7, XP, 2000, or earlier versions 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 and 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.
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