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In the past, when creating AD domains, I've used the common convention of using a sub-domain of the company's publicly registered domain name, e.g "" or "". I've always accepted the default NetBIOS name when running DCPromo, for fear that creating a NetBIOS name that differs from the sub-domain may cause complications.

I've recently been doing a bit of research on the consequences of providing an alternate NetBIOS name. The main reasons behind this are:

  • The NetBIOS name isn't particularly descriptive or unique to the company
  • Apparently generic NetBIOS names such as "CORP" or "INT" can cause issues when merging IT systems (although I've not had experience with this myself)
  • Providing something "before the slash" that means more to users (less important)

In looking at the possible downsides, the only one I can come up with is the disjointed namespace issue when configuring Exchange.

Can anybody with more experience than I elaborate on my findings at all?

Many thanks

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By "NetBIOS" do you mean what the domain properties call "Domain name (pre-Windows 2000)"? – Richard Sep 22 '12 at 10:21
It actually asks for the "NetBIOS name" in the DCPromo wizard, but as far as I know, they're the same thing. – dbr Sep 22 '12 at 13:52
up vote 2 down vote accepted

We have had that in place for 8+ years, with 13 domains and no adverse effects.

Where they are different, our Pre-Windows 2000 domain names are CNAMES (aliases) for the substitute names.

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Thanks Greg. Could you possibly explain a little more about your setup and why you chose to have differing NetBIOS and DNS names? Was it for any of the reasons I identified, or something else? – dbr Sep 22 '12 at 13:53
@Newt I've also supported disjointed domains - they were set up before my time but I believe the motivation was to provide a more intuitive name to users in the domain select drop down and before the slash. The only issues that I ran into aside from causing confusion were with third party software expecting the netbios name to be a working DNS name - which is mitigated by the CNAMEs that Greg mentioned. – Shane Madden Sep 22 '12 at 15:16
@Newt: we actually had something the opposite than you. For example, we have a domain with a Pre-Windows 2000 name of "International", and didn't want to type that in millions of times, so we created the "Int" name for that domain. In most cases, our preferred domain names are two or three letter characters, and the Pre-Windows 2000 names are really long or badly named. The Pre-Windows 2000 name still works for most things like authentication. – Greg Askew Sep 22 '12 at 16:38

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