What Are the Forms of Network Names?

Network names are text strings that refer to a computer network

Wi-Fi House on Cityscape Background
Getty Images/Alex Belomlinsky

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. There are several different forms of network names.

SSID

Wi-Fi networks support a type of network name called SSID (Service Set IDentifier). Wi-Fi access points and clients are each assigned an SSID to help identify one another.

When a person speaks of wireless network names, they typically are referring to SSIDs.

Wireless broadband routers and wireless access points establish a wireless network using an SSID. These devices are configured with a pre-defined default SSID (network name) by the manufacturer at the factory. Users are encouraged to change the default name.

Windows Workgroups and Domains

Microsoft Windows supports assigning PCs to named workgroups to facilitate peer-to-peer networking. Alternatively, Windows domains can be used to segregate PCs into named sub-networks. Both Windows workgroup and domain names are set separately from the names of each PC and function independently from SSIDs.

Clusters

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

Network vs. DNS Names of Computers

It's fairly common in the IT world for people to refer to computer names as maintained in the Domain Name System (DNS) as network names even though they aren't technically names of networks.

For example, your PC may be named "TEELA" and belong to a domain called "a.b.com." The DNS will know this computer as "TEELA.a.b.com" and advertise that name to other devices.

Some people refer to this expanded DNS representation as the computer's network name.