I have managed a few small networks as a hybrid sysadmin/developer for small organizations (<25 people) either as an employee or as an independent consultant.

One thing that has always challenged me is to find a naming convention for workstations. And, of course, I am very particular about names and naming.

One problem, from what I understand, somewhere on the NetBIOS level or something, I can't have a Windows machine name the same as a Windows user name...

I like to name the user with the first name of the person (e.g. "james" is my user name), but I can't name the machine the same thing, so the machine cannot be named "james" also.

For workstations, what do people use for naming conventions?

I would like to use the name of the person, perhaps their last name?

But, at one organization, we had a bit of turnover, so I started naming the machines by role, e.g. "sales1, sales2, sales3, marketing1, marketing2, etc. - but that seems so cold...

I would like it to be easy to identify which workstation goes with which employee, etc.

Does anyone want to share their workstation naming conventions for workstations?

[reminder: this is not a server naming question]

Thanks, -james


For servers, I use:


where cc is a 2-letter abbreviation for the name of the company (e.g. Acme Tacks would be at-) and then I name the ff as the function of the machine, fs for file server, db for database server, etc. So, I might have at-fs, at-db, at-dev (development server) and so on. I am totally happy with this naming convention (taught to me by a former co-worker, to whom I am much indebted...propers to you Gabe if you're reading this).

closed as not constructive by Chris S Jan 27 '12 at 4:56

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

locked by HopelessN00b Dec 5 '14 at 9:14

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. See the help center for guidance on writing a good question.

Read more about locked posts here.


We use a very simple naming scheme for PCs, just pc001, pc002 etc. Then to make the connection to the user who is currently at that machine, we use the 'description' field. In here we generally put the name of the user at that machine.

The description can be very easily changed - much more so than the actual name of the pc itself.

In order to see who is using which machine, a simple 'net view' command will generate a list of pc names and matching descriptions. For example:

\\PC001               John Smith
\\PC002               John Doe
\\PC003               Long John Silver

This perhaps doesn't scale that well when you get thousands of users, but we have approximately 250 and have no trouble at all with this method - it works very well for us.

  • Totally forgot about the Description field, great point! – mundeep May 14 '09 at 1:46
  • Thanks Cap, that's a great idea - name by hardware/os+sequence# or whatever (simple :))- then maintain the metadata in the description field. I am going to have to go see if Mac has an equivalent to description field... :) – qxotk May 14 '09 at 20:59

I agree with Kevin that you shouldn't be naming the machines after staff or company.

I would also go further and say that you shouldn't be naming the machines after 'staff roles' either as having once managed machines for a small company you would often end up with a situation where your newly hired accounts assistant would be running on the "SALES3" machine because one of your sales staff left and that's the only spare machine.

This generally leaves you with the even 'colder' alternative of naming the machine with in a more generic pattern, in which case take your pick of the suggestions by Kevin, Sam & JFV.

However personally if i was only running a small number of machines in an office environment I would go with a something VERY simple like PC{Number} eg. PC001 or if you wish OS{Number} eg. XP001... and then to easily know which machine is where just maintain a small list/spreadsheet of which machine is allocated to who (and also for ease of network maintenance use the machine number as the last digit of the IP).

IMO that is a lot 'nicer' than having machine names that in the end won't match the users name/role/location anyway as small companies often move machines around, and if you don't have many machines the list/spreadsheet should be very small (1 page) and easily maintainable.

N.B: The more complex the environment the more you complexity you may want to introduce into the names (eg. if you have different sort of 'builds' for each machine eg. a dev machine with visual studio, vs a sales machine with just office then it would be worth sticking with Kevin suggestion of including machine purpose eg. XPDEV001, XPWRK001).

  • Mundeep: I also like your thinking, I voted you up - but gave the answer to CapBBeard, since he had the description field idea. Props to you tho-...I like the idea of simple names where machines migrate to whatever staff/purpose they take on (that happens in my current company... GREAT idea about matching up the IP with the simple name...I do that with my IP phones...will do it with machines too. – qxotk May 14 '09 at 21:01

Actually, I wouldn't name a server starting with the name of the company. it's too volatile and the minute that the company name changes you either have to rename all the servers, or you have to leave the server name as some archaic throw back to the old company which after a while will cease to be descriptive. No joke, this actually happened, by the end we had two or three different companies' servers due to accounting running multiple corporations, and then we got bought out. After about 6 mos, a lot of the people were let go or quit and new people came in who had no idea what the old company abbreviations stood for or what they contained. It was a nightmare until those servers were retired.

Here we name the computers the same name as the user login (we haven't had a problem with the netbios). Frankly it sucks. A user can't have two machines or more, and that especially starts to be a problem when you need to migrate a user's data on a machine to a new one.

At other companies we name every workstation just like we do a server. Something like OS + machine type + Purpose + number in list. So servers would be something like 2k03SvrDb1. Workstations would be XPWkDev03. It's a little cryptic at first, but if you follow standard naming conventions it makes sense pretty quickly. As far as linking them to users we have reports which we pull to show who is using what.


If you use an Asset Tag, then I would suggest you use the dept abreviation and the asset tag information. For example: I work in MIS at the Home Office in Delaware, OH - DELMIS000123, or I work in Marketing in Atlanta, GA - ATLMKTG000124, etc.

Let me know what you think!



Small companies often favour naming after users, which can cause problems when people leave as you either end up having to rename the machine, or having names that no longer make sense. A small comapany I worked for, which had a number of branch offices, like to name there machines with a prefix for location, then the first name of the user. If 2 users had the same name, they got an initial at the end. Not a great solution.

Another company I found just liked to assign random strings of digits to the name, which was no help at all when trying to find the machine.

Personally I prefer names that give me some idea about the machine, the OS, its location, its purpose are all good things. Naming them all after Lord of the Rings charectors, however, is not helpful.


We go back and forth on this all the time, but our naming convention looks like it's settling down around the format "dds-[location or room number]-[sequential number]" for PCs and "dds-mac-[location]" for Apple devices ("dds" because we're the School of Dentistry). Usernames prove to be problematic because users leave and move more often than computers do. I tend to think that location is the most useful piece of information in a device name, at least for us.


As a point of interest, a lot of management consoles (Symantec's antivirus management is the most accessible one I have currently) have client views that will show computer name as well as last-logged-in user. 1000x better than a static field, if you have users like mine, who enjoy swapping hardware. ;)


Location and asset tag number here as well. Very very handy if you're geographically distributed, as you can easily reconstruct the machine name if required by asking the user for the tag number, rather than asking them to go delving into control panel applets.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.