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

Everything you need to get started with Active Directory

Everything you need to get started with Active Directory

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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.  I finally decided to put these all in one place for quick reference.  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.

Blog etiquette says that I shouldn't use long, ugly URLs in the text of my post.  But today I am including the full URL of each link in case you decide to copy and paste the links into an email

 

AD 101

Active Directory Domain Services Overview
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831484.aspx

What is Active Directory?
http://www.microsoft.com/en-in/server-cloud/windows-server/active-directory-overview.aspx

Active Directory Services Overview (wiki)
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/1026.active-directory-services-overview.aspx

Microsoft Active Directory: An Introduction (Microsoft Virtual Academy video series)
http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/IntroToAD

Wiki: Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) Portal (Fantastic!)
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/13752.wiki-active-directory-domain-services-ad-ds-portal.aspx

Wiki: Active Directory Features in Different Versions of Windows Server
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/19037.active-directory-features-in-different-versions-of-windows-server.aspx

 

AskDS / AskPFEPlat


The AskDS blog remains the most amazing place on the internet to find deep technical answers to all of your AD questions.  Here are links to some of their best articles related to learning Active Directory.  Each of these posts contain links to key Active Directory information that every admin should know.
http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2010/07/27/post-graduate-ad-studies.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2009/01/30/seeing-the-domains-through-the-forest-what-you-need-to-know-to-build-your-career-in-directory-services-technologies.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2010/06/25/friday-mail-sack-1970-s-conversion-van-edition.aspx (scroll to bottom)
And here are two bonus posts that I couldn't pass up.
http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2011/12/08/effective-troubleshooting.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2011/09/02/accelerating-your-it-career.aspx

First, Do No Harm (DCPROMO checklist, highly recommended)
http://blogs.technet.com/b/askpfeplat/archive/2012/08/06/first-do-no-harm.aspx

 

White Paper Downloads


Active Directory Domain Services Operations Guide
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=16849

Best Practice Guide for Securing Active Directory Installations
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=16755

Best Practices for Delegating Active Directory Administration
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=21678

Windows Server 2008: Planning for Active Directory Forest Recovery
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=16506

Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Branch Office Guide
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=5838

Read-Only Domain Controller (RODC) Branch Office Guide
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=3608

Planning and Deploying Read-Only Domain Controllers
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=11003

Infrastructure Planning and Design: Active Directory Domain Services
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=732

Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) Guide: Migrating and Restructuring Active Directory Domains
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=19188

 

TechNet Library


How Active Directory Replication Topology Works
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc755994(WS.10).aspx

How Operations Masters Work
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc780487(WS.10).aspx

How the Windows Time Service Works
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc773013(WS.10).aspx

How the Data Store Works
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc772829(WS.10).aspx

Active Directory Maximum Limits - Scalability
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/active-directory-maximum-limits-scalability(WS.10).aspx

How Domain and Forest Trusts Work
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc773178(v=WS.10).aspx

Capacity Planning for Active Directory Domain Services
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/14355.capacity-planning-for-active-directory-domain-services.aspx

 

Understanding FSMOs

Phantoms, tombstones and the infrastructure master
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/248047

FSMO placement and optimization on Active Directory domain controllers
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/223346

Windows 2000 Active Directory FSMO roles
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/197132

 

Support KBs


Virus scanning recommendations for Enterprise computers that are running currently supported versions of Windows
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/822158

Service overview and network port requirements for the Windows Server system
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/832017

Things to consider when you host Active Directory domain controllers in virtual hosting environments
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/888794

 

DNS


How DNS Works
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc772774(WS.10).aspx

How DNS Support for Active Directory Works
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc759550(WS.10).aspx

DNS Technical Reference
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd197461(WS.10).aspx

DNS in Small Networks Step-by-Step Guide
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=11156

DNS Best Practices
http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2010/07/17/friday-mail-sack-saturday-edition.aspx
Scroll half way down the article.

 

DNS Scavenging


Managing the aging and scavenging of server data
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc776907(WS.10).aspx

Optimizing your network to keep your DNS squeaky clean
http://blogs.technet.com/b/networking/archive/2009/02/09/optimizing-your-network-to-keep-your-dns-squeaky-clean.aspx

Don't be afraid of DNS Scavenging. Just be patient.
http://blogs.technet.com/b/networking/archive/2008/03/19/don-t-be-afraid-of-dns-scavenging-just-be-patient.aspx

A Complicated Scenario Regarding DNS and the DC Locator SRVs
http://blogs.technet.com/b/ad/archive/2008/08/08/a-complicated-scenario-regarding-dns-and-the-dc-locator-srvs.aspx

How DNS Scavenging and the DHCP Lease Duration Relate
http://blogs.technet.com/b/askpfe/archive/2011/06/03/how-dns-scavenging-and-the-dhcp-lease-duration-relate.aspx

 

PowerShell


Any administrator worth their salt MUST know PowerShell.  Here are some great links to help you get started.

Windows PowerShell: Learn It Now Before It's an Emergency
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/scriptcenter/dd742419.aspx
This five-part video series by Ed Wilson, the Microsoft Scripting Guy, is a fantastic place to start.

Windows PowerShell: Scripting Crash Course
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/hh551144.aspx

List of Free PowerShell eBooks
http://www.hofferle.com/archives/624

GoateePFE – PowerShell for Active Directory
http://blogs.technet.com/b/ashleymcglone
Yes.  I am promoting my own blog as your source for learning how to use PowerShell with Active Directory.

 

Miscellaneous


Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displayLang=en&id=7887
This download gives you the admin tools on Windows 7. Enable them from Control Panel - Programs - Turn Windows features on or off - Remote Server Administration Tools.
 
MCITP Certification & Exams
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcitp.aspx#tab2
Use the exam guides linked here for a great list of topics to measure your knowledge.  If you see a term you don't recognize, then study it. 
 
TechNet Virtual Lab: Windows Server 2008 R2: What’s New in Active Directory
https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032437246&culture=en-us
This is a free online lab where you can practice with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Active Directory.  It includes a 2008 R2 domain controller, a Server Core member server, and a Windows 7 client.
 
Windows Command Reference
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=2632
Wow! This CHM (compressed HTML) help file contains syntax and examples of nearly every Windows command line utility, including Active Directory commands. Every administrator needs a copy of this. Note: After downloading the file be sure to unblock it (Right click the file, Properties, click the Unblock button, OK). Then you will be able to view the contents.

 

Can you help me?  Yes!

If you would like to have me or another Microsoft PFE visit your company and assist with the ideas presented in this blog post, then contact your Microsoft Premier Technical Account Manager (TAM) for booking information.

For more information about becoming a Microsoft Premier customer email PremSale@microsoft.com.  Tell them GoateePFE sent you.

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Comments
  • Terrific list.  You might also consider adding a section for commercial products such as books and training material. I know of several I would suggest.

  • This could be the greatest blog post ever... :)

  • WOOOWWW!! thx for sharing.. can be the best reference post !! thank you so much ..

  • Amazing collection of articles about AD. I request you to add some nice links about DFS and DFSR (if possible). Thanks a lot.

  • Great list of links. Thanks for compiling all of these.

  • You point to some really great resources here.  Thanks!

  • and in 2014, the content is still exactly what I'm looking for!!! THANK YOU, wish Microsofts Training was more real world.. learn the book stuff and them boot camp was more like front lines to help engineers really learn this stuff.

  • I was looking for some online AD Virtual environments that would allow someone to get real time experience but this is a great post with great references to learning, AD

  • Hi John,
    You can use the TechNet Virtual Labs for free online VMs to try AD.
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/virtuallabs/bb467605.aspx
    Enjoy!
    Ashley @GoateePFE

  • Thank you

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