A naming convention for virtual machines and home networks (Windows User Series)


If you are a professional working in the Information Technology Domain you might have set up virtual machines to test different software versions, do Proofs of Concept or just use them for the ease of backup and restore.
But what name do you give those virtual machines?
As long as it are only a few, it doesn’t really matter.


It becomes a bit of a challenge when you are have different virtual machines all with a specific setup, e.g. different versions of the same software.


I want to share my naming convention that I use for virtual machines and my home network.
It is pulled together from different sources in the internet, as well as my own insight, so don’t be surprised if you see parts of other standards.

My device names consist of the following parts:
1. Device type
2. Operating System Line
3. Operating System Version
4. Separator
5. Purpose of the device
6. Sequence number

A naming convention for virtual machines and home networks

1. Device type

Minimum and maximum length

Device type is a single character.

Domain values

Namepart Description
V Virtual Machine
S Physical Server
L Physical Laptop
D Physical Desktop
C Cloud Computer
P Printer
T Tablet Computer
M Mobile Phone

2. Operating System Line

Minimum and maximum length

Operating System Line consists of exactly two characters.

Domain values

Namepart Description
WS Windows Server
WC Windows Desktop/Client
LS Linux Server
LC Linux Client

3. Operating System Version

Minimum and maximum length

Operating System Line consists of 1 to 4 characters.

Domain values

For Windows devices use the internal version number:

Namepart Description
51 Windows Server 2003
52 Windows Server 2003 R2
60 Windows Server 2008
61 Windows Server 2008 R2
62 Windows Server 2012
63 Windows Server 2012 R2
100 Windows Server 2016
A “C” can be added to server versions, if the “Core” version is installed. E.g. 63C
51 Windows XP
52 Windows XP Professional x64
60 Windows Vista
61 Windows 7
62 Windows 8
63 Windows 8.1
100 Windows 10

Get other/older versions from wikipedia.

4. Separator

Minimum and maximum length

The separator is a single character: a hyphen (-).

Domain values

Must be a hyphen (-).

5. Purpose of the device

Minimum and maximum length

Purpose of the device consists of 1 to 4 characters.

Domain values

For Servers:

Namepart Description
DC Domain Controller
FS File Server
PS Print Server
WEB Web Server
ORA Oracle database
SQL SQL Server database
DB other database(s)
EXH Microsoft Exchange
SHP Microsoft Sharepoint
CTX Citrix Server
ESX VMware ESX Server
HV Windows Hyper-V Host

This part is optional for desktop devices.
If implemented, you could use:

Namepart Description
STD or S Standard
DEV or D Used for software development
GRD or G Used for graphical design

6. Sequence number

Minimum and maximum length

The sequence number consists of 1 to 6 characters.

Picture credits: © Yan Zommer | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Numbering your Windows instances.

Domain values

A sequence number making the name unique.
You can decide to make it unique based on purpose only, so you could have:
DWC61-STD001 and LWC61-STD002 (so you do not use 001 for the latter).
If you have a limited number of devices, you could put some intelligence in the number so you know which version of the ‘purpose delivering’ software is running.

Example names

Example name Explanation
DWS63C-HV01 Physical desktop running Windows Server 2012R2 Core, being a Hyper V Host with sequence number 01.
VWS63-SQL141 Hyper V Virtual machine running Windows Server 2012R2 with SQL Server, sequence number 141 (intelligent number, indicates that it is my first virtual machine with SQL Server 2014 installed, I would use 08x for SQL 2008, 09x for SQL 2008R2, 12x for SQL 2012, you get the idea). You could use this if the number of virtual machines per SQL version is less than 10.
VWC100-DEV151 Hyper V Virtual machine running Windows 10, used for development, with sequence number 151 (intelligent number, 15 indicates it’s my Visual Studio 2015 virtual machine, as I have only one of those, 151 is an excellent number).
LWC61-STD0554 Physical Laptop with Windows 7, with software for a ‘standard workspace’, sequence number 0554.

A real life example.


Do NOT use this naming convention for enterprise networks! Problems that could arise if you use it include:

  • A physical location is not part of this naming convention. In enterprise networks servers often have a physical location reference in their name.
  • The operating system is in the name. This if fine for your own lab virtual machines and home computers, but can be very inconvenient in company networks where the device name is in an inventory system. Enterprises typically do not want devices to be renamed when the Operating System is upgraded.

So.. use this naming convention only for the intended purpose, and take advantage of it.

Conclusion / Wrap up

I posted my own naming convention for virtual and physical computer devices I use “AS IS”.
I do not say it is perfect or useful in all cases.
Use the parts you think are convenient and adjust further to meet your requirements.
I would be thankful if you would like to share your adjustments with me, so I can update this post.
I discourage to use this standard in enterprise networks. For more details see the warning/disclaimer above.

(c) 2016 hansmichiels.com – Do not steal the contents – spread the link instead – thank you.

Hans Michiels

Hans is an Independent Business Intelligence and Datawarehouse Consultant & Microsoft SQL Server Consultant, working in the Netherlands. He has been working in the software industry since 1996, with SQL Server since the year 2001, and since 2008 he has a primary focus on datawarehouse- and business intelligence projects using Microsoft technology, using a Datavault and Kimball architecture. He has a special interest in Datawarehouse Automation and Metadata driven solutions. * Certified in Data Vault Modeling: Certified Data Vault 2.0 Practitioner, CDVDM (aka Data Vault 1.0) * Certified in MS SQL Server: * MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) SQL Server 2012 - MCITP Business Intelligence Developer 2005/2008 - MCITP Database Developer 2005/2008 - MCITP Database Administrator 2005/2008

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2 thoughts on “A naming convention for virtual machines and home networks (Windows User Series)”

  1. Thank you for your collections!
    I have another confusion:
    What is the naming convention for computer names of windows operating systems? Some computer names of Win7 OS begin with “WIN-“, and others are “DESKTOP-“.

    1. Hi Sabastian,
      I do not understand what you mean, “WIN-” and “DESKTOP-” are not literals that where used in my blog post as part of the machine name.
      For a Windows 7 desktop machine, installed on a laptop, used as a standard workspace (not development or graphical design) a suitable name could for instance be LWC61-STD001.

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