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Active Directory Schema

Posted on 2014-03-24
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In simple terms, what is the active directory schema?

How does it affect me as an administrator?

What are some of the things that can go wrong with the schema, perhaps while modifying it?

How would you go about backing it up and restoring it?

What are some tools that I can use to view the schema and make changes to it?(Microsoft tools as well as third party)
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Question by:elchermans
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by:KCTS
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Think of it like a table definition in a database - its is list of all the 'fieldnames', datatypes and attributes.

Different server versions have slightly different schema, some applications such as exchange also make changes to the schema
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Seth Simmons earned 400 total points
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In simple terms, what is the active directory schema?

as mentioned, it can be likened to the parts a database.  if an application (like exchange) needs to extend the schema, it will add more "fields" as it were, to the schema that are specific for that application

How does it affect me as an administrator?

schema updates come in to play as required by installation or upgrade of exchange, as well as introducing a domain controller of a newer operating system in to an existing environment (say, promoting your first 2012 R2 domain controller in an existing 2008 R2 domain).  the schema version would then be updated also

What are some of the things that can go wrong with the schema, perhaps while modifying it?

you generally shouldn't need to modify schema objects.  there might be a very rare chance where you would need to manually create a schema object but is highly unlikely.  at my last place, we had a linux application that did ldap authentication against AD and we manually added a couple of schema objects to use for granular access rights in that application.  again, it isn't a normal thing and most environments you won't have to worry about that

How would you go about backing it up and restoring it?

this is part of the windows backup utility, though many 3rd party products do this also allowing AD to be backed up (which includes the schema).  you can boot a server in directory services restore mode as one recovery option

Active Directory Backup and Restore in Windows Server 2008
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2008.05.adbackup.aspx

What are some tools that I can use to view the schema and make changes to it?

i'm not aware of any 3rd party tools but you can use built-in ADSI edit.  when you open it, connect to schema (in the well know naming context drop down list).  expand schema on the left, click the schema object then on the right the attributes will be listed
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