Computer name conventions

Computer naming conventions are like creating an Active Directory hierarchy – there is no wrong or right. Its more about what best suits your current and future needs. Over the years my naming conventions have evolved and below I will document my currently preferred method. First we will look at the technical constraints when naming them, and what characters I recommend using.

Technical Constraints

Please keep in mind there are technical constraints when dealing with both NetBIOS names and DNS names. Because of this i would recommend staying within the constraints of DNS so that your NetBIOS and DNS names are the same.


Minimum length 1
Maximum length 15 (in Windows) 16 characters by default but Windows uses the last character to depict the NetBIOS suffix.
Allowed characters abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
plus (+)
minus (-)
equals (=)
brackets ([ ])
comma (,)
tilde (~)
colon (:)
exclamation point (!)
at sign (@)
number sign (#)
dollar sign ($)
percent (%)
caret (^)
ampersand (&)
apostrophe (‘)
parentheses (())
braces ({})
underscore (_)
period (.)
The name cannot start with a period (.)
Disallowed characters backslash (\)
slash mark (/)
colon (:)
asterisk (*)
question mark (?)
quotation mark (“)
less than sign (<;) greater than sign (>;)
vertical bar (|)


Minimum length 2
Maximum length 24
Allowed characters abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
0123456789minus (-)period (.)
The name cannot start with a period (.)
Disallowed characters backslash (\)
slash mark (/)
colon (:)
asterisk (*)
question mark (?)
quotation mark (“)
less than sign (<;) greater than sign (>;)
vertical bar (|)

The above information was retrieved from RFC, Wikipedia and Microsoft.

My Preferred Naming Convention

Here is a computer naming convention I have used in the past.

X = D for desktop or L for workstation, T for tablet or V for virtualised client.
Y = Serial number of the hardware. We retrieve details from BIOS using WMI at the time of computer build. If its longer than 15 characters it will get trimmed from the right, and remove any spaces. (VMware have spaces in their serial number)
D-HHD741S – Dell Desktop
L-2CE12707GF – HP Laptop

X = 3 digit international airport code (if they dont have one we will apply common sense)
Y = Description. I.E. EXC for Exchange, FS for File Server, SCCM for System CenterConfigurationManager, SPW for SharePoint Web server, SPA for SharePoint Application server.
Z = incremental number to distinguish similar servers.

Other Common Naming Conventions

Below are common naming conventions that I have seen in the past. They may have worked well in the past but with automated deployments its unnecessary to have this information in a computer name:

  1. (location)-(username)
  2. (username)
  3. (asset-number)
  4. (location)-(model)-(incremental-number)

Keeping Track

In our active directory environment, we use a logon VBScript to add the users name to the Description field programatically to help our service delivery team identify machines. Refer to my other article regarding this script here.


Naming conventions in Active Directory for computers, domains, sites, and OUs
Internet Host Table RFC

Wiki – NetBIOS

Limits in NetBIOS

5 thoughts on “Computer name conventions”

    • Thanks – your comments are very much appreciated!
      I do find that a lot of blogs out there fail to give end-to-end blogs so I try my best in that regard.

  1. Do you also get the information if it’s a desktop, laptop from WMI during computer build. Could you please share a script. Also what do you use for deploying computers, SCCM, MDT…?


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