Reviews on Top 10 Active Directory Tools
Microsoft’s active directory gives system administrators a better way to handle network services. It is the general opinion that though active directory provides lots of features, it also requires the technicians to do more manual labor. To help minimize this problem in AD administration, there are several active directory tools that are available.
These tools are very useful in minimizing the time spent by system administrators on AD administration. Their pricing also range from freeware to shareware. Here, I will be reviewing about the top 10 active directory tools including both freeware and shareware. This list will help you to select the AD tools that will best suit your needs.
Check the original site links for the actual prices.
Manage Engine AD Manager Plus 4.4
Using Manage Engine AD Manager Plus will make the AD administration tasks of creating and modifying multiple users, contacts and groups very easy. AD Manager supplies us with a variety of tools to help us do the above tasks. This is totally a web-based product where jobs can be easily assigned to each technician and they will have access to only those specific areas where they have to do the job and not the whole active directory environment. This will enhance the security of AD administration. You can also easily delegate access permissions to each user or computer. Setting up templates for users is very simple. Within a matter of time, you can create a large number of user accounts.
Modifying user accounts and managing user accounts can also be done in a jiffy. This simplifies the task of searching by searching computers, users, and operating units. You can even make mass changes in the search findings. Browsing the domains had never been so easy than with Active Directory Explorer. You can also create Active Directory Reports using this tool and then use these reports to make bulk modifications. There is also the option of converting these reports to excel format. One other nice feature of AD Manager is the ability to make changes to many computers at the same time. Overall, there are no big issues with AD Manager Plus and even when you have issues, their customer support is excellent and it will be sorted out within hours. Though this product is expensive, considering all the features it has, price alone should not be a barrier to use this. Moreover, you have a trial version to start with.
Product Name: Manage Engine AD Manager Plus 4.4
System Specifications: Windows 2000, XP
Product Price: Standard Edition starts from $495 and Professional Edition starts from $795
Quest’s Recovery Manager for Active Directory
Quest’s Recovery Manager for AD is another useful tool for administration of AD, which obviously as the name suggests is used in backup and recovery of objects. The salient feature of this product is the recovery of objects until 60 days after deletion, only after which the objects will be deleted permanently beyond recovery. Recovery of objects is done through a wizard where we can recover even the whole Active Directory or just a single object and no scripting is required. It also supports Microsoft’s tombstone feature. One main drawback of Recovery Manager is the installation time takes longer, but this can be attributed to the too many features provided by Recovery Manager. Recovery Manager gives us various options to backup like backing up active directory and restoring active directory and so on. You can even schedule your backup process. There is an undelete option in the wizard, which helps us to recover the deleted objects. You can also categorize or group the deleted objects.
The Recovery Manager’s deployment guide explains the recovery process very clearly. It also helps us to decide between agent-based and agent-less methods while recovering. Many recovery processes can be automated, so that will reduce human resource requirements and downtime. This product supports a feature called Granular Backup Retention. This means that you can mention the maximum number of backups you want to retain and when this number is reached older backups are deleted, which will free system space. It also comes with a Clone Wizard, which will help you to restore your active directory after a crash in an entirely different hardware.
Product Name: Quest’s Recovery Manager for Active Directory
Product Price: Can be obtained by quoting on their website.
Dove stones AD Bulk Users 2.7
Active Directory Bulk users is a tool from Dove stones, which is used to manage users in bulk. It is used to manage a large number of users like creating users, modifying them, and we can even find the last log-on time for every user. The interface is user friendly where we can see about the attributes that will be imported for each user and we can also ensure that each user is imported correctly. We can clean our active directory by deleting the unused accounts, which we can easily find out by using the last log-on time. It also has the feature of creating home folders for each user and we can easily grant access permissions to them. The newest feature is importing from CSV or MySQL database and the ability to use command line options.
Product Name: Dove stones AD Bulk Users 2.7
System Requirements: .Net 2.0
Product Price: AD Bulk Users Single Administrator License (1 User) $99
AD Bulk Users Site License (unlimited users at 1 site) $299
Active Directory Janitor 2.0
Active Directory Janitor is a system maintenance AD tool. A pressing problem faced by active directory users is that after using it for some time the number of redundant users and computers increase. This has been easily solved by the Janitor. It helps us to easily find out these redundant user accounts and then delete or disable them or move them. It has a nice graphical user interface. We can scan and search using 3 different ways and then enable or disable accounts easily and we can also export the scanned results. Janitor also increases the security of AD.
Product Name: Active Directory Janitor 2.0
System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Windows 2000/2003/XP server
Product Price: Starts at $399.95
Though active directory comes along with administration tools, using these tools alone to maintain AD will be a tedious task. Hyena 8.1 helps to manage the tasks, which we use daily and it provides additional features for system administration. The explorer-like interface helps managing users, domains, groups, computer, etc. All the tools required to manage AD are provided by Hyena. Given all the features provided by it, the pricing is very cheap. Hyena supports changing admin passwords at a single time for multiple computers. This can be done in simple steps.
1. In Hyena, select the group of computers from the right pane.
2. Click More Functions.
3. Click Set Account Password and do the necessary change.
Similarly we can also add users easily to global group or local group. One main drawback of Hyena is its nagging screen.
Product Name: Hyena 8.1
System Requirements: Windows 2003, 2000, Vista, NT, XP, Server 2008
Product Price: Starts at $199
Ideal Administration 2010 10.7
Ideal Administration is also another tool, which helps in users, servers and domains. If you happened to have Windows NT, XP, 2000 and 2003 networks, then all these networks can be easily managed using one single tool without the necessity to go for different tools and all the tasks can be done through internet, Wan, VPN or internet. With Ideal Administration, you can easily create and modify NT services on many computers at once. It is also possible to have a database recording of the users and the statics of the sessions they were involved in like log-in time, log-off time, session length, etc. Through a single user-friendly interface you can do all the administrative tasks.
Product Name: Ideal Administration 2010 10.7
System Requirements: Windows 2003, Me, 95, 2000, Vista, NT, XP, Server 2008
Product Price: 399 Euros.
Having seen most of the widely used paid or free-to-try active directory tools, let us see now about some of the freeware versions of active directory tools.
Joeware is a site where you can find a number of useful active directory tools, which you can use for free. In addition to being free, these tools provide most of the features available in the paid versions. Some of the AD tools from Joeware are AdFind, AdMod, and OldCmp.
This is a command line query tool that is used on AD objects. Using AdFind we can do many search functions, which will be difficult to do using command line arguments alone.
This is a free tool used to modify AD objects. It is also based on command line arguments. AdMod makes the functions of creating, naming, renaming, moving, and deleting objects using command line. Some commonly used AdMod commands are –add, -move, -undel. You have to understand that since this is a command line, after undelete to restore an object completely; we have to perform authoritative restore.
Another important tool is OldCmp with in-built security features. It is used to search AD for unused objects for a long time and then it will just create a report, disable them, move them, or delete them. It has the feature of confirming the administrator before deleting more than 10 accounts and it will also confirm before deleting an account which has not been disabled.
Product Name: Joeware
System Requirements: Not specified.
Download Location: http://www.joeware.net/freetools/index.htm
Blackbird Auditor Express
Blackbird Auditor Express is a free handy AD tool of Blackbird Auditor. It will keep track of all the modifications that have been done in AD and GPO configurations. Factors that are monitored are who made the change, what change was made, where the change was made, and when the change was made. It also supplies us with the IP address from which the change was made. This will help us to track the culprit whenever a change is made with bad intentions. Also, when a change is made, it is clearly highlighted. While providing lots of innovative templates for report creation, it also has a wizard that will help us to create our own customized report. We can also send reports automatically through e-mails to all the people concerned.
Product Name: Blackbird Auditor Express
System Requirements: Windows XP, minimum Pentium 1 GHz hardware.
Download Location: http://www.blackbird-group.com/downloads#
This is another free tool that helps to keep track of the last log-on time of users and then you can perform a desired action based on this. If you want to find the user accounts without any log-in for a long time, this tool will find out the user accounts that have not been in use in the recent time using the last log-on time and gives you a report. Using this report, you can perform any action like deleting or moving on any redundant accounts. Before deleting any account, you can even send a message to confirm that the account is no longer in use.
Product Name: AD Tidy
System Requirements: Not mentioned.
Download Location: http://www.cjwdev.co.uk/Software/ADTidy/Download.html
NetWrix Active Directory Object Restore Wizard
This is another mostly used free AD tool. It takes AD snapshots and it is used to restore objects, but it should not be considered a backup. When you have accidentally deleted a user account or several user accounts, it can be easily restored if you are using NetWrix. It also helps to undo the changes that you recently made. It also comes with another tool Active Directory Change Reporter. This tool helps us to manage changes that have occurred to user accounts, so manual tracking is avoided. Moreover, it is easy to modify the number of times snapshots are to be taken each day.
Product Name: NetWrix Active Directory Object Restore Wizard
System Requirements: Windows 2000, 2003, Windows Server 2008, .Net framework 2.0 or later.
Download Location: http://www.netwrix.com/requestd.html?product=adrw
Above mentioned are some of the AD tools that are used by many of the system administrators. These tools are very instrumental in saving time and to automate many tasks, which will take a long time when using windows administration tools alone.