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. 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
Active Directory Domain Services Overview
What is Active Directory?
Active Directory Services Overview (wiki)
Microsoft Active Directory: An Introduction (Microsoft Virtual Academy video series)
Wiki: Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) Portal (Fantastic!)
Wiki: Active Directory Features in Different Versions of Windows Server
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/2010/06/25/friday-mail-sack-1970-s-conversion-van-edition.aspx (scroll to bottom)
And here are two bonus posts that I couldn't pass up.
First, Do No Harm (DCPROMO checklist, highly recommended)
White Paper Downloads
Active Directory Domain Services Operations Guide
Best Practice Guide for Securing Active Directory Installations
Best Practices for Delegating Active Directory Administration
Windows Server 2008: Planning for Active Directory Forest Recovery
Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Branch Office Guide
Read-Only Domain Controller (RODC) Branch Office Guide
Planning and Deploying Read-Only Domain Controllers
Infrastructure Planning and Design: Active Directory Domain Services
Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) Guide: Migrating and Restructuring Active Directory Domains
How Active Directory Replication Topology Works
How Operations Masters Work
How the Windows Time Service Works
How the Data Store Works
Active Directory Maximum Limits - Scalability
How Domain and Forest Trusts Work
Capacity Planning for Active Directory Domain Services
Phantoms, tombstones and the infrastructure master
FSMO placement and optimization on Active Directory domain controllers
Windows 2000 Active Directory FSMO roles
Virus scanning recommendations for Enterprise computers that are running currently supported versions of Windows
Service overview and network port requirements for the Windows Server system
Things to consider when you host Active Directory domain controllers in virtual hosting environments
How DNS Support for Active Directory Works
DNS Technical Reference
DNS in Small Networks Step-by-Step Guide
DNS Best Practices
Scroll half way down the article.
Understanding Aging and Scavenging
Note that Windows Server 2008 changed the way DNS records are refreshed. Be sure to note which version of the documentation you read based on your server operating system.
Optimizing your network to keep your DNS squeaky clean
Don't be afraid of DNS Scavenging. Just be patient.
A Complicated Scenario Regarding DNS and the DC Locator SRVs
How DNS Scavenging and the DHCP Lease Duration Relate
Any administrator worth their salt MUST know PowerShell. Here are some great links to help you get started.
Microsoft Virtual Academy - PowerShell
Microsoft Virtual Academy - PowerShell for Active Directory
Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
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
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
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
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.