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IT Terminology

Active Directory

Active Directory is a directory service developed by Microsoft for managing and organizing network resources within a Windows domain. It is a centralized database that stores information about network resources, such as user accounts, computers, printers, applications, and other objects, and enables administrators to easily manage and control access to these resources.

Active Directory is based on the LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) and DNS (Domain Name System) protocols and uses a hierarchical structure to organize objects in a domain. The key components of Active Directory include:

  • Domain: A domain is a logical grouping of network resources, such as computers, users, and devices, that share a common directory database. Domains can be interconnected to form a domain tree or domain forest, providing flexibility in organizing resources and delegating administrative tasks.
  • Domain Controller: A domain controller is a Windows server that runs Active Directory services and stores a copy of the Active Directory database for its domain. Domain controllers authenticate users, process logon requests, and replicate directory information with other domain controllers to ensure consistency across the domain.
  • Organizational Units (OUs): Organizational Units are containers within a domain that allow administrators to organize and manage objects based on department, location, or organizational structure. OUs can have their own group policies and security settings, providing granular control over resource management.
  • Group Policy: Group Policy in Active Directory is a feature that allows administrators to define and enforce security settings, configurations, and restrictions for users and computers within the domain. Group Policy Objects (GPOs) can be linked to domains, OUs, or individual objects to apply specific settings across the network.

Active Directory simplifies network administration tasks by providing a centralized platform for managing user accounts, resource access, security policies, and other network settings. It enhances security, scalability, and efficiency in large and complex IT environments, making it a key component of Windows-based network infrastructures.

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