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Computer names

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Computer names

You can use the advanced settings of Remote Installation Services (RIS) to define the naming policy that gives each client computer a unique name. This unique name, which is used to identify the client computer on the network, is similar to the network basic input/output system (NetBIOS) name used in previous versions of Windows and Windows NT.

When you define your naming policy, you can either choose from a list of automatic naming options (for example, First initial, last name), or you can click the Customized button and create a customized naming policy. If you want to ensure that each client computer is given a unique computer name, choose from the list of automatic naming options. All of the automatic naming options that are based on the user's name (for example, First initial, last name) add an incremental number at the end to ensure that the computer name is unique.

To create a custom naming policy, click Customize. You can then select one of the options in the following list to create the customized computer name automatically.

The user's first name is used as the computer name.

The user name is used as the computer name.

%[ 0][ n] #
The computer name includes an incremental number containing n digits. To include zero-padding in the incremental number, type a zero as shown. For example, if you use %03#, a three-digit number in the range from 001 through 999 is used.

The user's last name is used as the computer name.

The network card media access control address is used as the computer name.


  • Do not create a naming convention that could result in duplicate computer names. One way to avoid duplication in computer names is to use the incremental number option described in the previous list.

When you are defining your computer naming policy, you can limit the length of computer names by adding a numerical value to the text string. For example, if you want to limit the computer name to three characters of the user's last name with a two-digit incremental number appended, you would use the string: %3Last%02# Thus, for the fifth computer user whose last name is Smith, the corresponding computer name would be Smi05.

You can use customized naming options separately, or you can combine them. For example, if you want the computer name to consist of the first three letters of the user's first name, followed by the first three letters of the user's last name, followed by a three-digit incremental number, use the following string:%3First%3Last%03#

For instructions on how to configure the computer naming format, see Configure settings for new clients for RIS.


  • This topic does not apply to Windows Server 2003, Web Edition.

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