What is a Machine ID (Computer Name) and How Can It Be Changed?

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A Machine ID or Computer Name in a nutshell, is the name that a computer uses to identify itself from the other machines on a given network. There is also such a thing as a virtual name or id, but that is not the same thing as a computer name and is anot

What on Earth is She Writing About?

I have been writing for about 40 years and although my content has varied, it usually is based upon something having to do with a medieval theme. Alternative Healing, Gemstones, Relationships, Architecture, Literature and Poetry, are the categories that I am known for writing about. 

What the majority of my readers don't know about me is that I have been working mainly in the computer industry for the past 20 years and have a greater amount of expertise in this field than any other.  Although it was never my intent to write technology articles and I haven't written one since the days of the KB at many previous job sites.

I have recently seen a good number of basic tech questions here on Factoidsz that I can answer with my eyes closed or with very little research, so, I thought I would put my two cents in here.

What is a Machine ID or Computer Name?

A Machine ID or Computer Name in a nutshell, is the name that a computer uses to identify itself from the other machines on a given network.  There is also such a thing as a virtual name or id, but that is not the same thing as a computer name and is another lesson for another day. For example: I have a desktop computer, two laptops, a cell phone and a printer on my network.  The name of my network workgrouop is Camelot. 

The names that identify the individual devices (Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin and Galahad) on the Camelot workgroup are known as machine id's. The name that your computer has by "default" when you buy it is basically unnecessary once you have made your purchase and can be pretty ugly and difficult to remember, so changing it to something that you will remember and that represents you and/or your company may hold some obvious attraction for you.

To take this concept one step further, let's say that my network was the internet  domain named camelot.org.  The computer name or machine id will often stand as the host name of a particular machine on the network. One host or machine name might be www aka www.camelot.org, another might be lancelot, lancelot.camelot.org, etc. Often virtual host names are given to a machine within a domain so that it may use several different names on the network.

Changing Your Computer Name

Changing your computer name is generally an easy feat in Windows XP, 7 or Vista. When changing your computer name or machine ID, keep in mind that computers may have only 15 alpha-numeric characters per name(a-z and 0-9). Special characters are not allowed.

To change your computer name in:

Windows XP

  From the desktop:

  1. Right click on My Computer
  2. Choose Properties. 
  3. At the top of the screen click the Computer Name tab
  4. In the center click on the Change button
  5. Change the name in the top box
  6. Be sure to choose domain or workgroup and add the appropriate information 

Windows 7 or Vista

From the start menu:

  1. Right-click on Computer.
  2. On the left, choose Advanced System Settings.
  3. On the titlebar, you should see "System Properties". Verify that you are on the Computer Name tab.
  4. In the center click on the Change button.
  5. Change the name in the top box.
  6. Be sure to choose domain or workgroup and add the appropriate information.

So, there you have it. Now you know just what a computer name is, what it does and how to change it to something of your liking, rather than some silly and difficult to remember default name, provided by your OEM.

I hope this has been helpful.

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