Changing the name of My Computer so that the user's computer name is displayed instead is particularly useful for phone support, when the user needs to identify his or her computer name quickly. Since the computer name appears on the user's desktop, the user won't have to search My Computer's Properties to hunt it down. Also, by modifying the name through the registry, you can make the change remotely or through policies, both of which are useful when you need to change several computers. (To see how to change the name of My Computer, read "Make supporting Windows 2000 Pro easier with these handy registry tips.")
Once you change the name, you'll want to make sure it stays that way. Things can get confusing if the user decides to change the name of My Computer to something entirely unrelated to his or her computer name. This could cause you to spend hours tracking down a problem only to hit a dead end because the computer name was not what you thought it was. Luckily, the fix requires only a quick registry modification.
Before we begin
Warning: The following article involves editing your system registry. Using the Windows Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems requiring the reinstallation of your operating system and possible loss of data. TechRepublic does not and will not support problems that arise from editing your registry. Use the Registry Editor and the following directions at your own risk.
It's all in the registry
It's relatively easy to prevent a user from altering the name of My Computer once you change it. Simply modify the permissions on the registry key that defines the name, giving users only Read permissions on the key. Open Regedt32 and select this branch:
Select Security | Permissions. Remove the Everyone group, add Authenticated Users, and configure permissions so that the Authenticated Users group has Read permission but not Full Control, as shown in Figure A.
If Allow Inheritable Permissions From Parent To Propagate To This Object is checked, it's likely this will need to be unchecked before you can remove the Everyone group. You'll also want to make sure that some groups still have Full Control over this registry branch; in this case, Administrator and Administrators will still need permissions. This will allow you to change the entry at a later date if you desire. When you are satisfied with your changes, click OK and exit Regedt32.
More Windows registry tips
Check out the following TechRepublic articles for more information on the Windows registry:
- "Look like a Windows NT registry pro with these quick tips"
- "Windows 2000: Choose favorites in the registry and stop date and time losses"
- "What's all the buzz about registry hives?"
- "Apply local Windows 2000 restrictions with the Group Policy console"
- "Learn to rebuild the Windows registry from DOS"
- "Windows 95/98 tips for phantom apps and hardware profiles"
- "Control the console prompt and password expiration in Windows 2000"
- "Comparing the Windows 98 and the Windows NT registries"
- "The fix is in for a disappearing CD-ROM"