4. FAQ

Q. I have been using the original naming standards. Do I need to rename existing PCs according to the revised standards?
A. No, this would be impractical. Just name any PCs you install from now on according to the revised standards.

Q. Do I need to rename existing NT domain controllers according to the standards?
A. Renaming domain controllers can be difficult, especially if you have a lot of NT workstations in the domain, or have some of the backoffice applications (e.g. Exchange) installed. Renaming Windows 2000 domain controllers is impossible. We don't recommend renaming domain controllers unless it is unavoidable because a name clash is causing problems, and we advise exploring other options first — email winsmaster for advice.

Q. Do Windows 2000 PCs really end up with a DNS name that contains the unit name twice?
A. Yes, unfortunately they do, but there doesn't seem to be any other option. For example, an oucs PC with the NetBIOS name of oucs-fred will have the DNS name oucs-fred.oucs.ox.ac.uk.

Q. Does the NetBIOS name need to be the same, or similar to, the first part of the DNS name?
A. Only on Windows 2000. On Windows 95, 98, Me and NT the NetBIOS name and the DNS hostname (up to the first ".") can be completely different (NT will try to make them the same but it can be pursuaded otherwise). However in Windows 2000 Microsoft has linked the two names so that the NetBIOS name and the first fifteen characters of the DNS hostname (up to the first ".") are identical. Bear in mind that this is the DNS name that the computer thinks it has — there is actually nothing to stop you registering a different name against its IP address through the normal DNS update mechanisms. However, it is probably good practice to ensure that the PC knows the same DNS name for itself as the one that you register (and that the rest of the world therefore knows), and especially so for domain controllers.

Q. What characters are valid in NetBIOS names?
A. According to Microsoft, “a computer name can be up to 15 alphanumeric characters with no blank spaces. The name can contain the following special characters: ! @ # $ % ^ & ( ) - _ ' { } . ~ and the following characters are not allowed: \ * + = | : ; " ? < > ,” (see Q188997 - Microsoft NetBIOS Computer Naming Conventions.) However in Windows 2000, DNS naming restrictions also apply. This means that on Windows 2000 PCs you should only use alphanumeric characters and dashes (hypens “-”) in the Computer Name. Windows 2000 will actually allow you to enter some other characters (although it will warn you about using them) but I would recommend avoiding other characters since you will not be able to register names that contain them in the DNS.

Q. My unit uses a different naming scheme; can I continue to use it?
A. A number of units have developed their own naming conventions (in many cases this happened before the central conventions were developed). Where these contain some form of the unit name their use is unlikely to result in name clashes. However it may be a good idea to use the central conventions when naming any new domain controllers or servers.

Q. Can I check if a name is in the central WINS database?
A. You can’t check this yourselves. However, if you email the name that you want to check to winsmaster we will check for you. If you want to check that a WINS registration is correct, or for a name clash, please also include the IP address that name should be registered under.

Q. Where do I set the computer name and DNS suffix in Windows 2000?
A. Open the System control panel and go to Network Identification, then Properties. Set the Computer Name here (this is the NetBIOS name and the first part of the DNS name). Go to More to set the primary DNS suffix (i.e. the rest of the DNS name, e.g. oucs.ox.ac.uk).

Q. Where do I set the computer name Windows 95, 98, Me and NT?
A. For all of these operating systems, open the Network control panel and go to the Identification tab. For NT you then click on Change to change the Computer Name. For the other operating systems you just type the name straight in.

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