Every once in a while we have occasion to change the name of a computer or user on our Active Directory domain. I've changed several computer names without running into any problems... so far. I haven't tried a username yet (to the disappointment of several users who have gotten married and changed their real names).

My question is: can you think of anything that might break if I change the logon name of a user, or the name of a computer (in System Properties > Computer Name) on a domain system? I'm thinking about domain access and authentication issues, but also things like software with draconian (and poorly-designed) license control. Of course I'm most worried about the things I haven't thought of.

My ideas: obviously, changing a server name will break any URLs or user-created references to the server -- mapped network drives, "recent files" links, bookmarks to hosted web pages, etc. Changing a domain controller name might certainly be a delicate process. But I'm mostly just interested in changing workstation names, though. Some users RDP into their workstations, and their saved RDP files would no longer work, but I'm not aware of any other places where a user would connect to a workstation using a stored computer name.

(I've got XP systems on a 2003 domain, but I'm also interested in Win 7 and 2008 domains.)


Internally, AD uses SIDs for access control and authentication, so in most cases, accounts/groups/etc can be renamed without consequence. However, if you have applications authenticating against AD via LDAP, the dn they look for will obviously change when you do the rename.

| improve this answer | |
  • This is a good point, and I plan to vote it up as soon as I have the necessary reputation! :) I'm not currently using any LDAP authentication, but I might soon. I'm also looking into Kerberos authentication against AD, where the same warning would obviously apply. – Josh Jan 5 '10 at 4:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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