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As Windows network administrator, we need to follow standards in the naming of the PCs and Desktops used in corporate environments. A computer name can describe the user of the computer, the department which the PC belongs to, the item count on your inventory, etc. As to the importance of establishing the standardize way of naming your domain computers, it can be stated from the list below:
- Establish easy identification of the Computer from other Domain Computers on your network.
- Readily available information on the computer name speeds support and access based on needed system administration task.
- Identify the company owned computers on the network as other PCs not following naming convention will be considered guest computers.
- Can be used to instantly identify the user assigned to the PC when checking the user logon from server
Establishing identification of individual PCs is the main objective of the Computer Description standardization. It is easy how IT support lose track of each computer basing just on the default Computer Description that comes up on every purchase of equipment. Usually, branded computers like HP, Dell, etc. Have their default computer description out of the box. If you are to manage a network of computers, you will realize its easier to view computers as “ACCT-USERXXX” vs “NFG56HJ90”. From this example, the sample computer name indicates the abbreviation of the Department with a dash then followed by the designated user. Hence, instead of memorizing the non-standard computer description, you will be able to identify the User and even more, the Department the user is under from the computer description alone. Instead of going through the IT inventory every time an incidence happened, the user and computer can be found easily from the vast list of computers if the network has more than 20 computers.
With all the appealing reasons for computer name standardization, we administrators can enforce the name standardization from the issuance of the computer to the new user. Computers are often setup and configured for new users by backing up data and optimizing computer settings. For more details on new user computer setup and optimization please check my upcoming post. Going back, new user setup gives administrators time to rename the computer before user takes over the computer and start working. However, there are times the PC is still being used and no opportunity for administrators to rename the computer description. Such events can be summarized below:
- User consistently use the computer and do not comfortably give time for interruption.
- User is on a different location as in case of Wide Area Network type of connection.
- User prefer to keep the default name due to various preferences.
For the stated reasons, we administrators need to enforce the standardization as part of our prerogative to offer better support to users. Hence, I selected a tool that can easily accomplish the rename of the computer description on user end remotely. The tool is PSEXEC.exe. You can download this free and safe tool from here. PSEXEC is part of a kit of Sysinternals command-line tools that aid in the administration of local and remote systems named PsTools according to their site description.
Download the tool and extract. You can save the file to your C:\Windows folder for easy use with Command Prompt. To start, run command prompt as administrator if logged in as administrator. Or if as ordinary user, run as different user. For more information on running as different user on non-admin user, please check my post on the next topic. For the meantime, login as administrator and run command prompt as administrator. It is important to do so since remotely accessing a computer by running a remote service (PSEXEC.exe runs as service on local PC to run your administration tools and/or scripts) since it is in a domain environment. When the command prompt appears, enter the following script with the correct parameters:
psexec \CURRENTPC-NAME-h -u DOMAINADMIN-ACCOUNT cmd /c wmic computersystem where name=”CURRENTPC-NAME ” rename name=”DEPARTMENT-USERXXX“
The CurrentPC-Name can be the current computer name or can also be the IP address. Domain refers to Domain Name and Admin-Account is your domain admin account. Hit enter and the script will run. The command will provide information if the command is successful. Changes will take effect upon restart. It is important to restart the computer within the network. If in case the computer is a laptop, hibernating the computer and restarting it at home will give login issues when the computer is brought back to network. Typical error is Domain trust relationship error. I would advise contacting the user to restart their computer if it is a laptop before going home.
After restart, Admins can see the computer name changed to their standard name as defined on the script.