Not Just Any Name: Tips For Picking Good Names For Your Devices

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Assigning names to devices is a small action that has very few real consequences. Whether the name of your latest computer peripheral stays as “CORSAIR 829495” or changes to “Bingo” has no effect on the device’s performance. But on a personal level, naming your devices properly can have lasting implications for your productivity, organization, or just plain enjoyment.

I bet you’ve rarely thought of device names as important. In fact, some of you reading this article probably weren’t aware that devices could be renamed. Either way, I’m going to give you some tips on how to make the most of the names you decide to use.

Don’t Use Your Personal Details As An Anchor

The first time you install an operating system like Windows, you’re usually prompted for your name. In turn, when the installation finishes, your computer is automatically named something like “Patrick-PC.” This may seem fine to you, and really, there’s nothing inherently bad about it.

But, counter-intuitively, using your name can make your devices impersonal and boring. Would you name your beagle “John’s dog”? Probably not. Your dog is a separate entity from you, so you give it a name of its own. In the same way, you should name your device uniquely.

More practically, it can get confusing. Say your computer is named “Home-PC,” which is bland but it won’t break your system. What if you bought another computer? Or two? Would you name them “Home-PC-2″ and “Home-PC-3″? Or maybe “Home-Computer” and “Home-Desktop”? You can see the potential for confusion here.

Don’t Assign Purpose To Your Devices

I’m sure there’s a lot of philosophical thought that could go into whether or not devices truly have a purpose or not, but a device’s name is not where you want to make that decision. For example, don’t name your computer “Gaming Laptop” and don’t name your phone “Note Phone.”

Why? Because devices can have multiple purposes and because a device’s purpose can change over time. At one time, my portable netbook would’ve been “Writing Netbook” but now I only use it for random web browsing.

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Don’t Use Locational Descriptions

Perhaps your desktop workstation is located in the rear office room of your company’s business, so you decided to name it as “Rear Office PC.” That’s all good and nice… until you’re promoted (or demoted) and now you have to rename it to “Penthouse PC.”

The location of a PC will change over time. Even if your home computer is located in the living room, you never know when your son wants to move it into his bedroom. Just leave location out of it.

Don’t Use Strange Letters Or Characters

Your device names have to be used for any number of things. Bluetooth is a good example, but also for services like HomeGroup, network sharing, etc. If you use really strange letters and symbols, you make it more difficult for people to type your device’s name out.

Furthermore, certain symbols may not even be recognized by the system. Even though the name “‡Fjœrk‡” might work on your Windows operating system, what happens when you hook it up to your phone or to another computer on another operating system that might not recognize those symbols?

Strangely enough, some operating systems don’t support spaces (“ “) either, so be wary of that. When in doubt, use only letters, numbers, and sometimes hyphens.

Do Use Short Names That Are Easily Identifiable

Since device names are mostly used in the context of networking, making them short and simple is usually best. Long names or phrases might be unique or comedic, but given enough time, they’ll just become annoying and disruptive. Keep your device names between 4 to 8 characters whenever possible.

Similarly, if your name is hard to read, generic, or otherwise difficult to identify, you’ll just make the networking experience that much more unpleasant. A good test is to imagine your friend asking you, “What’s your device called?” If your response is convoluted or confusing, you may need a new name.

Do Use Names That Are Easy To Spell

Again, imagine if your friend asked you for the name of your device. You tell him what it is and he responds with, “Oh, how do you spell that?” It doesn’t seem so bad until you end up having to spell it out every single time someone needs your device name.

Sure, it may look easy to spell when it’s “Xavathon” on paper, but once you say it out loud, there’s some confusion that arises from it. Skip the hard-to-spell names for your own convenience.

Do Use a Pattern Of Names For Multiple Devices

If you have a lot of devices to name (let’s say 3+), it might be beneficial for you to use a certain pattern, set, trend, or grouping of names across all of your devices. For example, my computer peripherals follow the pattern of “(element)duck”. My desktop is Heliumduck while my external hard drive is Chromeduck. Don’t ask me why.

You can do something similar or you could do something more conventional. Name them after the 7 Deadly Sins, or the planets in the Solar System, or the colors of a rainbow, or cities in Germany. Giving them a pattern will make it easier for you to remember which device is which.

Conclusion

By using the naming conventions listed here, you’ll cut down on a lot of potential confusion. Plus, you may just find that you grow so attached to certain devices that their name alone evokes feelings that you didn’t know you had. I know I felt sad when I packed away my Apple iPod Touch (named “iDuck”) in favor of my current Android phone (“Anduck”).

What about you, readers? How do you name your devices? Do you even name them? Share with us in the comments!

Image Credits: Confused Drawing Via Shutterstock, Lap Tablet Via Shutterstock, Head Scratcher Via Shutterstock, Easy Spelling Via Shutterstock

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Comments (40)
  • Nuno André Catarino

    I have named my gadgets ‘Baby’ for my Nexus7 because its the latest addiction to my ‘tech-closet’. The Tf101 is the BigA4, like an A4 paper notebook, the Galaxy S3 was given the name of BlueBrain. Regarding Bluetooth of the cars my company has to ride I rename them on the phone, mixing the model with the registration plate letters.
    Am I performing good?

  • Mimmo Mallamo

    Historically all the personal notebooks I had so far (4 actually) were named “Pinturicchio”… I am Italian, we are mad for soccer and it is the nickname of Alessandro Del Piero (an Italian soccer player).
    At work (I am a network administrator) I name the computer with the first letters of my department (physio for physiology) followed by the last part of the IP addresses (i.e. physio-001, physio-002, …)

  • Cindy

    I named my Droid Bionic Steve Austin. When I talk about Steve, all my friends know I’m talking about my phone. Sadly, Steve is having issues. When I replace him, my new Bionic will be named Jaime Sommers. :)

  • Daniel Huss

    Here’s one of the best sites I know about in case you need help coming up with a naming scheme: http://namingschemes.com/

    I personally use names of Futurama characters.

  • dragonmouth

    Did you run out of ideas for articles? You have created a problem for which you are trying to provide a solution. Just because you don’t happen to approve of certain naming schemes does not mean that everybody else should avoid them.

    We have 4 laptops, one for each member of the family. Naming them something cute and approved by Joel Lee would be confusing as no one would remember what name laptop name goes with what family member. Therefore they are named “Amy’s PC”, “Bob’s PC”, etc.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid

      It’s not that rare of a problem actually, but I think it’s entirely situational. In your case, it’s perfectly acceptable to use owner’s name, but in Joel’s case, I’m under assumption he uses all the devices by himself, so it’s natural that he can remember all the names.

    • Daniel Huss

      I’ve been in this boat more than once… https://xkcd.com/910/

    • dragonmouth

      People name their computers and electronic devices in a manner so that they can remember the names. Those names may not be original and they may not be sexy or exciting. So what, as long as they are memorable?

      To quote Shakespeare:
      “What’s in a name?
      A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

      I don’ begrudge anyone their opinion. People do what they deem is best or most convenient for them. However, as a columnist for MUO, Joel implicitly carries a certain amount of authority. Anything he writes carries a bit more weight than what you and I may post. Many readers, especially those that are less experienced with computers, will read Joel’s opinions and accept them as the only way to do things.

    • Joel Lee

      Every tip article in the world (whether MUO or not) is implicitly “use it if it works for you.” After all, they are TIPS and not RULES. Tips are inherently subjective and situational. By your logic, perhaps no publication should ever release tip-based articles?

    • dragonmouth

      “By your logic, perhaps no publication should ever release tip-based articles? ”

      Depends on the tone or slant of the article. A “tip” recommending the use of Windows over Linux because to use Linux one must know how to compile and be fluent in CLI, is not worth the electrons it is written on/with. :)

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.