Windows Server

How to Rename a Windows Device

In this easy Ask the Admin, I’ll show how to rename Windows servers and PCs.

Renaming a PC using the GUI is essentially the same across all versions of Windows, with the exception that getting to the System Properties dialog varies a little depending on the version of Windows that you’re running. And as with most administrative procedures, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

You need to log in to Windows with local administrator privileges to perform the operations described below, or elevate a command prompt. Additionally, the instructions in this article don’t apply to domain controllers. For more information on renaming domain controllers, see Rename Windows Server 2008 Domain Controllers on the Petri IT Knowledgebase.

Using the GUI

The quickest way to rename Windows Server 2012 R2 is to use Server Manager. If Server Manager didn’t launch automatically when you logged in, you can run it from the Start screen or desktop taskbar.

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Rename a computer using Server Manager (Image Credit: Russell Smith)
Rename a computer using Server Manager (Image Credit: Russell Smith)
  • In Server Manager, click Local Server in the panel on the left.
  • Under Properties on the right of Server Manager, click the blue link to the right of Computer name.
  • In the System Properties dialog, make sure you’re on the Computer Name tab, and click Change.
  • In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog, enter a new name for the computer in the Computer name box, and then click OK.
  • Click More… if you want to change the DNS suffix.
  • In the DNS Suffix and NetBIOS Computer Name dialog, change the DNS suffix and click OK.
The System Properties dialog (Image Credit: Russell Smith)
The System Properties dialog (Image Credit: Russell Smith)

In most cases, the Change primary DNS suffix when domain membership changes box will be checked, and the primary DNS suffix for the computer shouldn’t need to be manually changed.

  • Click OK in the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box.
  • You’ll then be prompted that the device needs to be restarted. Click OK to confirm.
  • Close the System Properties dialog.
  • In the Microsoft Windows dialog, click Restart Now to reboot the device.

Not all versions of Windows have Server Manager, but you can get to the System Properties dialog from the Control Panel or the Start menu.

  • In Windows 8.1 or Server 2012 R2, right click the Start button and select System from the menu.
  • In the System dialog, click Change settings under Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings.
The System dialog in Windows 8.1 (Image Credit: Russell Smith)
The System dialog in Windows 8.1 (Image Credit: Russell Smith)

If you’re running Windows 8 or Server 2012, the process is the same as above, except that because there’s no Start button on the taskbar, you need to move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the taskbar and right click the Start screen icon when it appears.

Finally, if you’re using a version of Windows that has a Start menu, i.e. Windows 7 or earlier, right click Computer on the Start menu and select Properties from the context menu to open the System dialog.

Using the Command Line

If you have PowerShell 3.0 or later installed on a computer, you can use the Rename-Computer cmdlet:

To rename a remote computer, add the –ComputerName parameter to specify the name of the remote computer, and if the remote computer is joined to a domain, you can optionally specify domain credentials if you're not already logged in with an account that has permission to access Active Directory.

Using PowerShell to rename a remote computer (Image Credit: Russell Smith)
Using PowerShell to rename a remote computer (Image Credit: Russell Smith)
The –PassThru parameter makes sure that the results are reported back to the local PowerShell console.

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IT consultant, Contributing Editor @PetriFeed, and trainer @Pluralsight. All about Microsoft, Office 365, Azure, and Windows Server.
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