What makes a good naming scheme? It should be easy to use by both you and your users. It should generate unique names that are memorable and manageable. Finally, it should be flexible enough to solve multiple problems without needing updates often.
After seeing a recent question, I wanted to share a naming scheme that I’ve used. While nothing magical, it does fit each of the criteria from above and can be used as a starting point for all of your devices. This includes networked printers, projectors, babies, access points, displays, and more.
The real beauty is when you can walk into a room and know how to connect to nearly any device in the room. Need to mirror a display to that networked projector, or connect to a printer? Easy! Just follow a naming convention like this:
There is nothing radical here; the main thing is applying a consistent name across all of your networked devices. Let’s break down each component in this naming scheme and build a name along the way.
A shortcode for each physical location. 2-4 characters long. Ideally, known by end users as well. If you prefer a logical organization or are just one site, this might be left off.
Use a dash between some components in the name. These show up if hyperlinks are ever needed (where some people overlook an underscore) and provide an easy way to sort data containing names as you have a built-in separator.
Describes the exact room of the device. Due to legacy systems (mainly 15 character computer name lengths), keep any abbreviated names short. For sorting, be sure to place leading zeros in front of room numbers. If you have a hundred rooms, start the first room with 001 instead of just 1.
This tells you what the device is and allow you to find it just by name. One or two characters in length are perfect. Here is a table that can be used as an example:
|Node/Computer for teacher/admin
|Laptop for teacher/admin
|Node/Computer for student/general use
|Laptop for student/general use
|Printer, 3DPrinter, Copier, etc.
|Interactive Display, Touch Panel, etc.
|Projector, short throw projector
|Switch, Mini-switch, router, etc.
|Access Point, Wireless
|Camera, IP Camera, etc.
|Telephone, VOIP handset, etc.
The device prefix allows every device in a room to have a unique name in DNS. It also solves a secondary problem for us. Our state requires an annual inventory of certain device types. We have to report the number of staff desktop, student desktops, staff laptops, student laptops, etc. A quick PowerShell query can tell us our device counts by use and location!
Finally, we have the number of devices in that room. Like our previous room number, be sure to add leading zeros. In most cases, this will just be a 2 digit number (01-99).
The final example tells us that this device is located at the GA location in room 108 and it is the first student computer that you come to in the room.
Final Thoughts on Naming
With a unified and universal naming convention, you can simplify management and make resources easier to access. PowerShell and other tools can make remotely naming devices a breeze while providing automatic checks on devices out of standard.
Finally, don’t get too caught up with creating a perfect naming scheme. Make a list of your sites, a list of rooms in those sites, and play with device prefixes. The most important thing is to find what works for your organization, to make it consistent, and to do the work of implementing it!
Let me know your naming convention, tricks for managing device names and how you make this process easier for your organization in the comments below.