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In XP Pro how can I create a local alias for hostnames of some other computers on the domain?

When I created an entry in any of hosts, lmhosts, or lmhosts.sam, I can ping a computer with the alias, but when I attempt to connect to a file share \\alias_name\share_name, I get the following error:

You were not connected because a duplicate name exists on the network. Go to System in Control Panel to change the computer name and try again.

I can connect to \\host_name\share_name with or without the alias in the hosts file.

I simply want the aliases on my computer for convenience so I don't have to remember or look up specific computer hostnames in a spreadsheet I keep for information on our ~50 computers.

Note: I am not a domain admin, and I don't believe this issue is important enough to ask to have it changed at their level.

The following is output from nslookup showing the alias does not already exist as a hostname. The output was the same regardless of an entry being in the hosts file. (I masked information below.)

C:\Documents and Settings\USER>nslookup host_name
Address:  ###.###.###.50

Address:  ###.####.###.19

C:\Documents and Settings\USER>nslookup alias_name
Address:  ###.###.###.50

*** can't find alias_name: Non-existent domain

EDIT2: Hosts file       localhost
###.###.###.14  alias_name
share|improve this question
Your hosts file should be the hostname ONLY and not the trailing domain name. That is the lookup domain and is set by Active Directory and is tied in to DNS. Post some of your host file. – skub Aug 1 '11 at 22:45
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The "duplicate name exists" error is because the (NetBIOS) name of the Windows computer conflicts with some other name on the network. The instructions tell you how to resolve the issue - Go to System in Control Panel to change the computer name and try again.

You need to change your computer's name since windows won't allow PCs to have the same name in the same workgroup.

You will need to reboot to flush everything out.

share|improve this answer
I don't want to change any computer names. The IT dept assigns and maintains that. I just want to provide an alias to easily connect to computers I connect to on a normal basis with hostnames easier to remember than xy04da4434. – Steven Aug 1 '11 at 18:41
Chances are that there is already a server with the name you are trying to assign in DNS (or AD) and this is why you're having an issue. Try and arbitrary name like, 12xy044ZZX1, and see if you can connect. The whole point of AD/DNS/etc, is to have these sort of things centralized. Hosts files defeat this. – skub Aug 1 '11 at 18:47
The aliases i added to the hosts file do not already exist on the network. Before I added, I pinged the hostname... not found. After I added, I pinged the hostname... pings just fine, but I get the error connecting with netbios (file sharing). – Steven Aug 1 '11 at 18:56
Just because you can't ping the host name doesn't mean it doesn't exist it may not accept icmp requests.... try an nslookup on the hostname instead. – Not Kyle stop stalking me Aug 1 '11 at 20:37
I don't think the SMB protocol works with aliases very well. You'd be better off registering an alias in a proper DNS system. – Aug 1 '11 at 22:18

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