What Are the Forms of Network Names?

Network names are text strings that refer to a computer network

Red, green and blue plastic tubing on white background.

PM Images / Getty Images

A network name is a text string that devices use to reference a particular computer network. These strings are, strictly speaking, separate from the names of individual devices and the addresses they use to identify each other. Network names take several different forms.

SSID

Wi-Fi networks support Service Set Identifier (SSID), a type of network name. Wi-Fi access points and clients are each assigned an SSID to help identify one another. In common conversation, wireless network names typically refer to SSIDs.

Wireless broadband routers and wireless access points establish wireless networks using SSIDs. At the time of their manufacture, these devices are configured with default SSIDs (network names) at the factory. You should change the default name for your devices to prevent unauthorized access and other security problems.

Windows Workgroups and Domains

Microsoft Windows supports assigning computers to named workgroups to facilitate peer-to-peer networking. Alternatively, Windows domains segregate computers into named subnetworks. Windows workgroup and domain names are both set separately from the names of each computer and function independently from SSIDs.

Clusters

Yet another distinct form of network naming is used to identify computer clusters. For example, most server operating systems such as Microsoft Windows Server support the independent naming of clusters. Clusters are sets of computers that work as a single system.

Network vs. DNS Names of Computers

IT professionals often refer to computer names maintained in the Domain Name System (DNS) as network names, even though they aren't technically names of networks.

For example, your computer might be named "TEELA" and belong to the domain "a.b.com." The DNS knows this computer as "TEELA.a.b.com" and advertises that name to other devices. Some people refer to this expanded DNS representation as the computer's network name.