Goatee PFE

Blog of Microsoft Premier Field Engineer Ashley McGlone featuring PowerShell scripts for Active Directory.

Goatee PFE

  • How To Remove SID History With PowerShell

    This post is part four in the "PowerShell: SID Walker, Texas Ranger" series on documenting and remediating SID history in your AD forest. In today's post we will look at the final step of remediating SID history:  removing the SID history data from our migrated AD objects using PowerShell.  Cleaning up this stale data will greatly reduce the chance of token size issues for your users.

  • Use PowerShell to Find Windows XP Computers Still Alive in Your Active Directory Domain

    Usually I like to offer deep technical content on the blog, but today I’m going to keep it simple. Everyone should be keenly aware that Windows XP support officially ends on April 8, 2014. Many companies are migrating from Windows XP and need a quick script to check their progress. This is a simple solution with a couple variations to meet your needs.

  • Active Directory OU Permissions Report: Free PowerShell Script Download

    In Active Directory we need to know who has the keys to our organizational units (OUs), the place where our users and computers live. Over the years OUs have grown to meet needs. Different teams may have been delegated access for managing users, groups, and computers. Then you come along as the new administrator. You probably have no idea where permissions have been granted to your OUs. And the scary thing is… neither does anyone else.  I know, because I’ve been there.  I hear the same thing from our customers.

    Out-of-the-box we do not have a specific tool to report all of the OU permissions. You have to click each OU and view the security tab one-by-one, and we all know that is entirely impractical.  Today’s post contains a free script download to generate a report of this vital information.

    I would advise all Active Directory shops to review this report on a quarterly basis to make sure there are no surprise administrators lurking in your domain.

  • PowerShell Get-WinEvent XML Madness: Getting details from event logs

    Announcements

    Before we jump into today’s script here are some current events:

    • This blog post celebrates three years of PowerShell blogging on TechNet as GoateePFE.  It has been a great ride, and I am far from done.  See the most popular posts here.  Thank you for making this blog successful.
    • The PowerShell Deep Dives book is out now.  I contributed a chapter on Active Directory token bloat taken from my SID history blog series.  This book has a ton of great chapters by a ton of great people. All the proceeds go to Save The Children.  Buy your copy today.
    • If you haven’t had a chance to watch the Microsoft Virtual Academy recordings Getting Started with PowerShell 3.0 Jump Start and Advanced Tools & Scripting with PowerShell 3.0 Jump Start then you need to put them on your list.  Jeffrey Snover and Jason Helmick do a fantastic job of covering everything you need to know to get started with PowerShell.  Make time for this over several lunches or knock it out in a couple training days.  These videos will seriously boost your career.  You could even gather the family around with a bowl of popcorn.
    • PowerShell Saturday 005 is coming up October 26th in Atlanta, Georgia.  My session is titled It’s Time To Part With Blankie: Moving from command line tools to PowerShell for Active Directory.  If you’re in the area stop by for a good time with several PowerShell celebrities.  I’m looking forward to Ed Wilson’s session PowerShell Workflows for Mere Mortals.

    Now for today’s topic…

    XML vs. IT Pro

    Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but I’ve just not found any clear documentation aimed at IT Pros for what I am posting today.  As an IT Pro type guy (not a .NET type guy) I have avoided XML for years.  CSV and HTML are so much easier.  XML seems to be a labyrinth of complexity in my mind, and it still is, at least from a PowerShell perspective.  The object model is convenient, but trying to navigate it loses me.  Yeah, I know XML makes the world a happy place, but I’m just not there yet.

    Despite this disparaging disclaimer I believe I have drafted a script that will help many of us IT Pros as we weed through event logs (or ETL trace files or EVTX files).

    Events:  The good, the bad, and the ugly

    The good:  PowerShell works with event logs out of the box.  You have two cmdlets:  Get-EventLog and Get-WinEvent.  Get-WinEvent is the one we’re all supposed to use now.

    The bad:  All of a sudden reading event logs gets complicated.  The filtering in particular requires some crazy syntax.  We are far removed from the simplicity of DUMPEL.  PowerShell team blog posts from 2009 here and here attempt to make this look routine.  Um… yeah.

    The ugly:  All of the juicy nuggets of event data in the message body are stored in XML.  And nearly every combination of event ID and provider has a unique event schema for storing the data we want.  Neo’s MSDN blog post gets us most of the way there.  AskDS and Hey Scripting Guy show how we can use the GUI to help write the XML filter syntax.  Now my head is spinning.  This is the farthest point from intuitive.  Don’t even get me started on XPATH.

    Note:  In all fairness to the product this data structure is necessary.  All events have a few common properties like provider, ID number, date/time, source, etc.  But in order to capture the unique details of each event we needed a way to store a variable number of properties.  So the design is good, just a bit complicated to script.

    In the life of every scripter you will come to challenges like this.  You just have to cowboy up and dive in.

    The thing I’ve not seen in these blog posts is how to dump out the event message data in a CSV file where I can easily report and manipulate the data I need.  For example, if I’m collecting logon failure event 4625, then I want the guts of the message body in separate columns where I can easily summarize and report on the user and computer accounts involved.  While I can harvest event logs from multiple servers in the GUI, it is just not friendly for mass reporting, sorting and visualization like Excel.  This is the problem I am trying to solve. 

  • PowerShell Module for Working with AD SID History Updated

    Today I am releasing updated functionality in the PowerShell Active Directory SID History module.  New features include: inventory SID history in share permissions, new Access database reporting template, bug fixes, and more!

  • Step-by-Step: How to use Active Directory PowerShell cmdlets against 2003 domain controllers

    This post describes the exact steps to use the Active Directory PowerShell cmdlets in your 2003 environment today.

  • Dude, where’s my GPO? Using PowerShell to find all of your Group Policy links.

    Get-GPOReport from the Group Policy PowerShell module can report all GPOs, but it can be a bit overwhelming.  What if you want a simple spreadsheet listing of the same information?   This script gives you a thorough CSV report of all GPO links, where enforced, where blocked, and more.  If you support group policy, then this script is guaranteed to please.

  • How To Use The 2012 Active Directory PowerShell Cmdlets From Windows 7

    Today we have several domain controller operating systems that support the Active Directory module cmdlets. Clients on Windows 7 and 8 can install the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) to script with the Active Directory module against these DCs.

    With all of these versions now the first question that comes to mind is compatibility.

    • Are Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 compatible with my existing AD PowerShell scripts?
    • Can I use the Windows 8 RSAT AD module against 2008 R2 or 2003 DCs?
    • Can I use the Windows 7 RSAT AD module against 2012 DCs?

    The Windows Server 2012 Active Directory PowerShell module has some handy new cmdlets.  However, many IT shops struggle to stay current on the latest operating system releases due to a variety of issues (budget, resources, compatibility, etc.). They desperately want to use the latest features, but their deployment standards have not caught up yet. This leaves them with workable, but sometimes inefficient, tools from previous releases.

    Today’s article will show you how to use the latest Windows Server PowerShell modules in a legacy Windows 7 environment.  As a bonus we’ll explore compatibility of the AD cmdlets across the different operating systems.

  • Using PowerShell to resolve Token Size issues caused by SID history

    Today we will address the token size SID history scenario with a PowerShell script that documents the extent of SID history in your environment and creates a SID mapping file for use with the ADMT to migrate security resources to the new SIDs.

  • Everything you need to get started with Active Directory

    As a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer I frequently get asked for more information on Active Directory topics.  Most of the time I end up passing along one or more of the links in today's post.  This list will be extremely valuable for anyone who wants to get started with Active Directory or even for a seasoned AD admin who wants to go deeper.

  • Finally! Copy and merge GPOs! PowerShell saves the day!

    The Problem I wish I had this script five years ago. At the time I was searching for a way to combine or merge GPOs, but there simply wasn’t a way to do it. And today there still isn’t a way to do it… until POWERSHELL! Almost every...
  • PowerShell to Find Where Your Active Directory Groups Are Used On File Shares

    Today's post gives you a script to crawl your file shares and document the AD users and groups referenced in NTFS permissions.  I’m sure others have published similar scripts, but I want to approach it from the angle of Active Directory group cleanup. Using this output together with the script from my last post will give you plenty of insight to go after stale groups.

    Finish this familiar quote, “I can’t delete that group, because ______________ .”  Multiple choice:

    • “I have no idea where it is used.”
    • “The last admin told me to never delete that group.”
    • “That is how the leprechauns get access.”
    • All of the above.

    What would we do without file shares?  Well, actually, we would use SharePoint or OneDrive. The truth is file shares have been around for decades, and in most cases mission critical data resides there.  But who can access that data?  That is the big question, and many of us cannot give a complete answer.

  • How to copy AD user attributes to another field with PowerShell

    Have you ever needed to copy data between attributes in Active Directory? Maybe you need to copy an ExtensionAttribute value into a different ExtensionAttribute. Maybe you need to copy email, UPN, or SIP addresses. You may even want to move the EmployeeNumber value into the EmployeeID attribute instead. What if you needed to create a new Description based on a combination from other attributes?

  • AD PowerShell Password Reset Shortcut for Helpdesk

    Introduction

    Back in May I released a post on the Hey Scripting Guy blog showing how to create a shortcut to unlock a user account with a PowerShell desktop shortcut.  That post was very popular, and the comments evolved into another shortcut to reset passwords.  Due to the popularity and utility of the idea I decided it deserved its own blog post.  I’ve also learned a little more about the Set-ADAccountPassword cmdlet to simplify my previous code.

    Monday Morning on “The Desk”

    You know the drill.  It’s Monday morning.  Last Friday 47 users decided it was a good idea to change their password before the weekend.  It’s Monday.  They forgot, just like I would.  Personally I never change my password on a Friday for this reason.  I need a couple days to use it before the weekend.

    What could make this worse?  Holiday weekends… like US Thanksgiving.  (grin)  Now it’s been at least five days since I reset that password.  There’s no chance I’ll remember it unless it’s written down on that sticky note under the mouse pad.

    Now all 47 of those users must call the helpdesk first thing Monday before they can begin another week of productivity for the company.  The self-service password project has not gotten enough budget or resources for implementation, and until it does every Monday morning is going to look very familiar.  That’s where we come in with PowerShell.

  • Using PowerShell to Find Stale and Duplicate Active Directory Groups

    I have often told customers…

    “Most companies clean up stale users,
    a few companies clean up stale computers,
    but no one cleans up stale groups.”

    Generally it is easy enough to tell if a computer or user account is stale, but how do we do that for groups?  Today’s post is going to give you some reports to analyze group staleness, population, and duplication.

  • PowerShell: SID Walker, Texas Ranger (Part 1)

    Do you remember SIDWALK?  This resource kit utility was written back in the NT 4.0 days to assist with domain migrations.  It used a mapping file to rewrite old SIDs with new SIDs across ACLs.  That utility is a teenager now.  It's time we rewrite it... in PowerShell.  In part one of this series we will learn how to parse SIDs out of SDDL that we receive from Get-ACL.

  • Three Steps to Migrate Group Policy Between Active Directory Domains or Forests Using PowerShell

    Have you ever wanted to copy all of your production Group Policy Objects (GPOs) into a lab for testing?  Do you have to copy GPOs between domains or forests?  Do you need to migrate them to another environment due to an acquisition, merger, or divestiture? These are common problems for many administrators.

    There are VBScripts provided with the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), but that is so "last decade". (Really. They were published in 2002.)  What about WMI filters, OU links, login scripts, and embedded credentials? I’ve drafted a PowerShell module to do this with speed and style. This post discusses the pitfalls, preparations, and scripts for a successful GPO migration.

  • Freaky neat Active Directory site links with PowerShell

    Today's post will help you clean up site link descriptions and give you some nice reporting capability.  Some folks like to set their site link description field to list each of the member sites in the link. If that is you, then you'll love this script.  Today's script enumerates all of the member sites in a site link and then concatenates their names into the description of the site link.  Also, it will make a note in the description for any site links that have change notification enabled.  Now that's handy!  There is also a bonus site reporting script in the download attached.

  • Touch-Free PowerShell DCPROMO in Windows Server 2012

    Do you schedule DCPROMO activities for the weekend?  After hours?  Middle of the night?  I remember those days.  Often it was hard to get in the right frame of mind to think through all of the exact procedural steps during those late night change controls.

    Today’s post will show you how to easily promote and demote a Windows Server 2012 domain controller remotely with a script.  You don’t even need to logon to the target server.

    Generally change controls have three plans:

    • Implementation
    • Validation
    • Back-Out

    You have all three of these scripts for DCPROMO in today’s post.

  • Oh Snap! Active Directory Attribute Recovery With PowerShell

    Have you ever had to repopulate a batch of corrupted attributes or properties for a large set of Active Directory objects? (Think Exchange or Lync, for example.) The Active Directory Recycle Bin is great for recovering deleted objects, but it will not help with corrupted objects. Authoritative restore is the textbook option, but there is a better way. Yes, you can buy expensive third-party products to do this, or you can use the free features in the box for your own attribute-level recovery solution for Active Directory. This blog post will explain how.

  • Back To The Future: Working with date data types in Active Directory PowerShell

    Set your watch for January 1, 1601, Marty.  Today we’re working with crazy dates in Active Directory PowerShell.

    If you have ever tried to script out Active Directory reports that included date fields, then you have likely run into this challenge.  There are “real” dates, and then “those” dates.  You know… the ones that just look like a bunch of numbers.  Today’s post shows you how to make sense of those crazy Int64 date fields.

  • Do Over: SID History One-Liner

    The very same day I posted the SID history script I found a shorter way to do it.  I'm calling a "do over".  When you display a list of object properties sometimes one of those properties contains multiple entries in an array or object collection.  In order to expand those multiple values into single rows we pipe the output to Select-Object -ExpandProperty.

  • TIP: 2 Ways userAccountControl Is Easier In AD PowerShell

    TIP:  Anyone who wants to write scripts for Active Directory will eventually run into the famous userAccountControl attribute.  The good news is that in PowerShell we have two cmdlets that make this easy: Set-ADAccountControl and Search-ADAccount.

  • PowerShell Module for Working With AD SID History

    This post is the fifth in the "SID Walker, Texas Ranger" series on SID history remediation with PowerShell.  Today we're wrapping up with a handy summary of each post in the series. We will also take the function library we've been using and upgrade it to a PowerShell module. Then we'll walk through the entire SID history remediation process using the provided cmdlets in this module.

  • How to do PowerShell on your phone

    Even Spiderman would envy this web action. Today we're going to walk through setting up a portable PowerShell v3 Web Access demo. Using this demo guide you can explore PowerShell from any web-capable device: your phone, your tablet, or your Raspberry Pi.  The links in this post will guide you to all of the key documentation to build your own PowerShell Web Access lab.