Naming Windows Workgroups and Domains

Avoid Peer-to-Peer Networking Issues

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Each Windows computer belongs either to a workgroup or a domain. Home networks and other small LANs utilize workgroups, whereas larger business networks operate with domains. Choosing proper workgroup and/or domain names is essential to avoiding technical problems in networking Windows computers. Ensure your workgroups and/or domains are named appropriately according to the following rules.

  • Ensure each workgroup and domain name is no longer than 15 characters.
  • Ensure no workgroup or domain name contains spaces. Windows ME and earlier versions of Windows do not support workgroups or domains with spaces in their name.
  • Whenever possible, ensure all computers on the LAN use the same workgroup/domain name. Using common workgroups/domains makes it easier to browse the network and avoids some security complications when sharing files. Note that the default workgroup name in Windows XP is "MSHOME" but in older versions of Windows is "WORKGROUP."
  • Ensure the name of the workgroup/domain is different from the name of any computer on that network.
  • Avoid special characters in workgroup and domain names. Whenever possible, do not use any of the characters when naming Windows workgroups and domains: / \ * , . " @
  • For simplicity, avoid using lower-case letters in workgroup or domain names.
  • The workgroup name need not match the network name (SSID) on a Wi-Fi LAN.

To set or change workgroup/domain names in Windows XP, right-click on My Computer or open the System icon in Control Panel, then choose the Computer Name tab and finally, click the Change... button to access the workgroup/domain name fields.

To set or change workgroup/domain names in Windows 2000, open the System icon in Control Panel and choose the Network Identification tab, then click the Properties button.

To set or change workgroup/domain names in older versions of Windows, open the Network icon in Control Panel and choose the Identification tab.