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.
1. Don’t Use Your Personal Details
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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Do Use Short Names That Are Easy to Identify
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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
How Do You Name Your Devices?
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!