Technology Explained

7 Naming Tips for Your Hardware Devices: Routers, USB Drives, and More

Ben Stegner Updated 14-05-2020

You might not think much about the device names for your phone, computer, and other electronics. After all, whether you leave the name as “HP-8910245” or change it to “I’m So Awesome” has no effect on its performance.

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However, using good device names can result in better organization, productivity, or even just enjoyment. Let’s look at some tips for coming up with names for devices, including some strategies to avoid.

1. Don’t Leave Names as Default

Before we look at some do’s and don’ts of device name ideas, we have to get one major point out of the way: you shouldn’t use the default names for your devices.

Most devices ship with generic names like “LENOVO-97FPM91” or “Samsung Device”. While default names can be passable if you only have one or two devices on your network, they aren’t scalable. Trying to keep track of a dozen or more devices, especially if you have more than one from the same manufacturer, is a huge hassle.

The best device names uniquely identify what they are so you don’t have to play guessing games.

2. Don’t Use Uncommon Characters

And apparently you can also use emojis in your host name. Sorry, Networking Team at work. from Windows10

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While you might be tempted to use characters that aren’t part of the normal alphabet when coming up with cool names for your devices, you should stick to a standard character set for best results. Using characters from other languages, emojis, rare symbols, or similar could result in problems down the road.

Even if your device’s operating system displays the name properly, other devices that you connect it to might have issues with those characters. Bluetooth devices, network sharing services, and some protocols might refuse to work because of the name. This is especially the case with older systems.

For best results, you should also avoid spaces and most symbols (like slashes and percentage signs), which don’t play well with some operating systems. Stick to letters, numbers, and hyphens.

3. Keep Names Short and Simple

Remote Desktop Long Name

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While long funny names like “Destromicon, Epic Annihilator of All Humans” might give you a chuckle at first, you should avoid them. As we’ve discussed so far, device names often come into play in the context of networking. Having to type lengthy names all the time or worry about them getting cut off in displays will quickly become annoying.

Similarly, you shouldn’t make device names difficult to spell. You don’t want to have to double-check the spelling of “Onomatopoeic Thecodontosaurus” when you’re trying to remotely connect to it. And if you ever have to give someone your computer name, you’ll sound silly spelling out something long and confusing.

A short and succinct computer name will benefit everyone who comes in contact with it. When in doubt, don’t use names that you wouldn’t want to say to Google Assistant or Alexa all the time.

4. Use the Owner’s Name

Windows computer domain status

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A plain but practical solution for naming your devices is to use the name of whoever it belongs to. For example, you might have “Bill-Desktop”, “Amy-iPad”, and “Julie-Kindle”. While this isn’t particularly interesting, it’s easy and clear when looking at all the devices on your network.

In addition, compared to some of the other naming ideas we’ll look at, device owners tend not to change often. While you might move a PC from one room to another, you probably won’t reassign the device owner.

Using the name can also help differentiate if multiple people in your home own similar devices, like a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. You don’t want to accidentally connect to your roommate’s earbuds when you try to play music.

5. Use the Device’s Location

chromecast casting chrome list

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Another simple naming scheme, especially if you don’t have multiple people in your home, is to assign the device names based on their location. Examples include “Kitchen-Speaker”, “Den-Laptop”, and “Bedroom-Chromecast”.

This comes in handy if you have several units of the same device, like a streaming stick or Wi-Fi extender. It doesn’t make much sense for something like a laptop or phone, which moves around regularly. For those, you should apply another naming convention.

6. Use Name Patterns

If you don’t like any of the super-practical solutions above, you can still come up with cool device names that aren’t frustrating to use.

One easy way to do this is to stick to a pattern with your devices. The best one for your use will depend on your needs and what’s memorable, but you’ll find some examples below:

  • Names of planets in the solar system
  • The phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc.) in sequential order
  • Names of ancient gods from mythology like Hermes, Poseidon, and Athena
  • Character names from your favorite TV show, movie, or video game series
  • Species of insects, birds, or other animals
  • Elements from the Periodic table
  • Cities in a country you’d like to visit

These are just a few examples of the many you could use. Pick something that makes sense for you, and consider combining one of the above schemes with a more practical device name. For instance, you could have “Helium iPhone” and “Zinc Kindle” instead of just “Helium” and “Zinc”.

7. Get Help From a Name Generator

Seventh Sanctum Names

If you’re really struggling with naming your phone or another device, you can get some help with online name generators The 13 Funniest Online Name Generators Want to have a new cool name for your online persona? Here are some of the top random and silly name generators available online. Read More . These help you make unique names for your devices without any of the heavy lifting.

Naming Schemes is a great resource for this. The site contains hundreds of categories, such as soda brands, seas of the world, and baby animal names. Most of these are scalable, allowing you to refer back to the page when you add a new device.

Seventh Sanctum is another resource for generating names. Pick a category like Technology, Characters, or Names and Naming, then choose a specific type of generator in that category.

Some of them ask for a few pieces on input, while others simply generate names right away. After a few rounds of generation, you’re bound to find something that works.

Unique Names for Every Device

We’ve looked at some ways to come up with good names for your devices. Of course, it doesn’t make sense to to use all of these at the same time. Try whichever ones make sense for your setup—you can always change them in the future.

For most people, a combination of the device’s owner and location will work well. But if you’d like to get more creative, you have several ways to do that while still keeping a general theme.

For more naming fun, check out the best funny Wi-Fi names 50 Funny Wi-Fi Names to Impress Your Neighbors A good WLAN name makes it easy to find your own network, but a funny Wi-Fi name is entertaining for everyone around you. Read More to give your neighbors a laugh.

Explore more about: Computer Peripherals, Hard Drive, Hardware Tips, Router, Solid State Drive, USB Drive.

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  1. CS
    May 15, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    I named my home wifi network "MALWARE". All of my neighbors are scared of it. I've never told them that it's me.

  2. Lamoismynamo
    December 16, 2019 at 1:21 am

    I look around the room i use my device in and name it something I see.
    As in: Alarm Clock, Humidifier, Coasters...
    Or I name my devices a beverage that i would enjoy drinking while using the device.
    As in: Cold Water, Cold Milk, Cold Beer...

  3. Terrence Beresford
    February 7, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    I name my devices in Icelandic. For me, it's easy to remember, as I go by Icelandic words derived from patterns in their IPs or from their device names (ex. My old OnePlus 3, 1+3=4, Icelandic is Fjorir) If it's a group of items in an area, such as my Hue lights, I still use Icelandic, but include codewords I use for each room and a cardinal direction used for locating them.

  4. Epson Support
    August 20, 2018 at 4:32 am

    security is a big issue for any computer devices. we can secure our data with the help of security password or OTP called one time password.

  5. John Phoenix
    August 5, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    My Android Marshmallow phone is named Lola. With the case it's called Sexy Lola. In honer of Phil Colson from Agents of Shield.

  6. Terrence Beresford
    September 5, 2016 at 2:41 am

    I usually name my devices based on their codenames from when they were still in development or their final model names, such as Togari for my old Xperia Z Ultra, or Bond for my HP Spectre x360. I find it easy since I always do a ton of research on a device before buying it, which embeds that codename or model in my mind.

  7. Mel
    August 17, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    I name my devices with a two step process: stare at the device, a name will pop up into my head. Usually it works, very rarely do I have to research or contemplate for too long. My Chromecast is Glitter, my Apple Watch is Vanilla, my Surface is Skye, my iPhone is Meow, my car is Lovely. Pretty feminine, pretty "me".

  8. Nuno André Catarino
    February 7, 2013 at 12:14 am

    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?

  9. Mimmo Mallamo
    February 6, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    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, ...)

  10. Cindy
    February 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    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. :)

    • dragonmouth
      February 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      If I had an iPhone I would name it Locutus or 7of9. (grin)

  11. Daniel Huss
    February 1, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    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.

  12. dragonmouth
    February 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    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
      February 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      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.

      • dragonmouth
        February 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm

        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
          February 4, 2013 at 5:15 am

          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
          February 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm

          "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. :)

      • Daniel Huss
        February 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

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

  13. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    February 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    I once found a website which list name idea based on how many devices you have, like The Greek Muse for nine devices, The Gemini Twin for two devices, etc. Could anyone tell me what's the name of that website?

    • Daniel Huss
      February 1, 2013 at 9:43 pm
      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        February 2, 2013 at 11:58 am

        Exactly! Thank you very much.

      • Joel Lee
        February 4, 2013 at 5:12 am

        That's awesome! It'll come in handy for a couple of personal projects I have. :D

  14. claudine ratelle
    February 1, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Good article! I never thought of all this before naming stuff. I'll be keeping that in mind next time. Thanks!

  15. Fik of Borg
    February 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    "Don’t Assign Purpose To Your Devices" [because purposes can be reassigned]. I disagree: if the purpose is reassigned, the name should also be reassigned.

    Users don't see physical devices as in "the computer with the grey front and blue stripe", they see devices that offer some service(s) as in "the computer where videos are stored" (or whatever). For example, if the hardware from //Hermes, the email server is replaced with the hardware from //Kubrik (the computer with the grey front and blue stripe where videos are stored), the latter should be renamed as the former so users don't see the change and keep using //Hermes even though the hardware was //Kubrik's.

    I often upgrade user's hardware at work, but keep the names as in //Accounting-03, //Management-01, //CustService-02, etc. Our servers are the three musketeers (I toyed but rejected the idea of naming them after the three stooges).

    At home I pick less formal names but somewhat related to the computer function, so the kitchen/den computer is //Guinan (toyed with naming it //Neelix), the library computer is //Demetrius, the firewall/proxy is //Cerberus, the media server is //Kira, the home security system is //Worf and the home automation machine is //HAL9000. General purpose machines are more spur of the moment, //SergeGraystone, //Barbarella, //MaxHeadroom, //Arwen and //Frodo (an old PDA), //Yamato, //PADD (a tablet. duh).

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      February 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      I'd have to say constantly reassigning name is a hassle, and it's better to pick universal name to begin with. BTW,I think I can guess your interests based on those names. The last one is surprisingly bland compared to others, though.

      • Fik of Borg
        February 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm

        Hi Lisa, thank you for your comment.

        I don't reassign computer names "constantly", only "often". Say, 2 or 3 every couple of months. Not much of a hassle, I think. How is your universal name convention? They just use "Computer-nn" at wotk before my time, but many users were prone to get lost that way, and sometimes end up printing at the wrong printer, for example.

        Did you guess my interests? What gave me away? he hehe...
        Which name is bland, HAL9000 or PADD? I'm guessing PADD, I don't like it very much either (but it stuck). I think I will change it when I get a second tablet. Suggestions?

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          February 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm

          I'm bad with names, so I try to name my devices just once and let it be.
          What I meant with universal name is name that isn't related to the purpose of said device so it's much more flexible (pretty much like what you did with your own devices).
          Haha, correct me if I'm wrong, but putting //Kira and //Yamato or //Arwen and //Frodo isn't exactly difficult.
          You said the names are still somewhat related to their functions, so I'm very curious about that PDA named Frodo. What exactly you're using it for?
          Yes, I think PADD is bland, but I can't say I'm good at naming myself. How about Freedom?

        • Fik of Borg
          February 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm

          Arwen's naming was spur-of-the-moment (ok, I had a crush with Liv Tyler at the time), so it's name is not related to its purpose.

          Frodo is a Compaq iPaq 3630 Pocket PC I bought for using while on the road at the same freelancing jobs I worked with Arwen at the time. Activities related to Arwen and it was small, so... Frodo. (whoa, I just tried and it stills turns on after 12 years! battery is busted though)

          Kira the media server was named after the muse in the movie Xanadu, because music and arts.

          Yamato the Samsung Galaxy 2 was named after the 2nd starfleet galaxy class spaceship in the Star Trek universe.

          Regarding PADD/Freedom, I'd like to get a small "fleet" of cheap chinese tablets to have around the house to be used as remotes and/or media players, so eventually I will name them all in that light. Maybe Starfleet's (or NASA's) shuttles?

    • Joel Lee
      February 4, 2013 at 5:11 am

      Like Lisa said, I believe it's detrimental to change names regularly--even if it's only once a month or whatever. Instead, I think the more user-friendly method would be to associate purpose with a name instead of inscribing a device with purpose. To be honest, I think your naming system (uniquely named devices where each has a purpose unrelated to its name) supports my point of view. Maybe I just didn't convey it well?

      • Fik of Borg
        February 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        Hi Joel, thanks for your comment. I think we agree, but haven't agreed in how to agree.
        I'm not sure I get why "to associate purpose with a name" and "inscribing a device with purpose" are mutually exclusive. The way I see it it's both: at work most computer devices do have a natural purpose, and this purpose gets associated with it's name. I suppose one could name the computers after flowers or something like that, it could be friendly but not intuitive. Care to elaborate?

        And of course it’s detrimental to change names regularly, but It depends of what causes the name changing. One can say that I change the names to keep the names.
        Let me elaborate: suppose I have these users: A in accounting, B in sales and C in Maintenance. A's machine has a printer shared with his coworkers, and gets a new software that needs a more powerful computer. B's computer has a folder shared with his coworkers, it is a little outdated but it gets by. C gets his work done with pencil and paper but could use a computer.
        A gets a new hardware to run the new software, and this new yet-to-be-named machine gets the same name of the old one, ACC02. If I assign the new machine a new name like ACC02-b, I must also go reconfiguring A's coworkers'machines to print with the shared resource which now is in //ACC02-b.
        B gets handed down A's old machine, which is faster than the one he has. I wipe the files in the old ACC02, transfer B's files to it AND CHANGE IT'S NAME to SALES01, B's old machine's name. If I don't change the original name according to it's new purpose in sales, It would not be friendly to sales' staff to have a machine named ACC(ounting)xx. Here I also would need to reconfigure B's coworkers machines to access the shared files, and of course there would have been a conflict with two ACC02 in the network.
        C gets the old SALES01, but it also get it's name changed to MAINT01. It would be confusing to the people in maintenance to have a computer named SALESxx, beside the network name conflict if I don't change SALES01.

        By "I reassign computer names often, say 2 or 3 every couple of months" I didn't mean I go saying "It's been weeks since I changed this computer name, lets change it". As I said, I change the names to keep the names: I change the HARDWARE'S names to keep the WORKSTATION'S name associated with it's purpose, and every couple of months I find myself in that circumstance.

        At home I use a less formal naming scheme (and wear shorts instead of a suit), but still are somewhat related to each machine purpose. There I would also change the hardware names to keep the workstation or server name, so If I get a new hardware for the media server, the new hardware gets the old name (so the rest keep getting media from the same network resource) and the old hardware gets it's name changed according to whatever use I put it.
        But being less formal, if I get a new phone or some other general purpose device, I don't rename the old one, I just think of a new name for the new one.

        p.s.
        Sorry for the uppercases, I prefer to use italics for emphasis but I don't now how to do that here.

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          February 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm

          You can use HTML tags here like this.

          Thank you for the explanation. Now I see your point and I agree, that'd be the best in your case. I think I'd do the same when dealing with corporate networks.
          What caused the misunderstanding was you somewhat implied that you might change the names every now and then without real reason.

        • Fik of Borg
          February 5, 2013 at 7:39 pm

          Hi again Lisa.

          Off topic: I didn't know HTML tags could be used here... and as I'm typing I still don't, your comment doesn't show formatting, at least now in my browser. Let's try bold, italics and underline and see if they work after I click "Post".

          I'm glad my (long!) explanation was useful. English is not my native language and sometimes I can't seem to explain myself. This is often the case with disagreements: they are really agreements before being better explained.

          But now you are giving me ideas! I'll start changing names without reason, just to keep users alert he hehe...

        • Fik of Borg
          February 5, 2013 at 7:43 pm

          Nope. The HTML tags didn't work, at least in two computers and two browsers (Chrome and Firefox). They didn't show in the posted text either.

        • Joel Lee
          February 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm

          Seems like your naming scheme works well for you. If that's the case, then hey, I won't say anything against it! These tips were meant for people who haven't ever given much thought when naming their devices, and even so, the tips are just meant to be guidelines. If you can deviate and be successful, then great!

          No problem on the uppercases. I use them for emphasis sometimes since italics are lacking. :)

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          February 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm

          Very strange. I thought italic would work because WordPress' built in comment accepts common formatting tags, and at least it renders linebreaks.

    • Jacen47
      February 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      This style is actually one I use myself.
      I name all of my flash drives after MLP characters depending upon the flash drives pupose.
      I name my external hardrives Store. Currently MegaStore, GigaStore, and TerraStore. Hard to guess how I have those names huh? MegaStore is actually an old hand-me-down from my father.
      I name my systems on variants of ovo since I use 90% lenovo systems. They generally aren't named according to pupose and are more spur of the moment for fun kind of thing.
      The tablet I'm soon to get will be named Tabletha and my subsequent tablets will follow a similar scheme of placing tablet somewhere in a female's name; even to the point of using foreign versions of tablet.
      My office actually has a sweet setup. We use different ssh servers to do different tasks. Since we have such large programming projects, we need a small super-computer to compile our programs. My boss had me seup that server in such a way that every system on the network could just run an alias command formatted "COMPILER " It gets the job done and is an easy import with a .bashrc.

      Hope you continue to have fun with your awesome naming scheme.

  16. Mac Witty
    February 1, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I have always named my devices and remember them still. My Mac SE/30, lovely computer, was EarlGrey, the beautiful Pismo was BlackMac and so on.

  17. Scott Macmillan
    February 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    The psychology of naming your device properly is fascinating.It was a real joy to read such a well thought article.

    • Joel Lee
      February 4, 2013 at 5:08 am

      Thanks for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed the article.

  18. Alexander
    February 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Great article! I am going to use this in the future, when i get new devices.

  19. Tim Veluwenkamp
    February 1, 2013 at 10:00 am

    A very informative article.
    I agree about the confusion newer devices will create and also can vouch for pattern naming system, I find it effective for naming devices or even while creating some folders.

  20. Dr.Samuel Chandra Kumar
    February 1, 2013 at 8:26 am

    A very informative article.
    I agree about the confusion newer devices will create and also can vouch for pattern naming system, I find it effective for naming devices or even while creating some folders.

  21. Rubis Song
    February 1, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Very useful article. I've never thought of most of the tips you give. And really it's confusing. I have several blackberry devices hooked on bridge on my tablet and sometime it's difficult to know which one is the one I am looking for. I will definitevely use your tips and rename all these lovely life-help ;)

  22. Nevzat Akkaya
    February 1, 2013 at 7:37 am

    I use department names for computer names at work, adding them just numbers. I use my name for my own, personal laptop, I didn't think too much on it :)

    • Fik of Borg
      February 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Same here, I associate the computer's name with the department name.
      If a computer gets upgraded, the new hardware gets the old name and the old hardware gets the name of whatever office it was handed down.

  23. Kirby
    February 1, 2013 at 2:59 am

    Very good article.

    When I need to do a ping test to a computer at work and forgot the IP address of that computer, I usually ping the computer name and it's just as good as pinging the IP add. For someone like me whom it's easier to remember the computer name than the IP address, it's a big help to have systematic \ organized comp names.

    • Joel Lee
      February 4, 2013 at 5:07 am

      There are very few people who would prefer IP addresses over systematic computer names, I think. Haha! But yes, you are right. That's a big benefit to properly named devices.