ManageEngine has created a great suite of free tools that helps Active Directory admins by simplifying common tasks that admins would typically accomplish via PowerShell or an MMC console. Using Free Active Directory Tools can tremendously expedite mundane tasks like viewing/setting a group password policy, forcing replication between domain controllers, or querying the Active Directory database.
I have been a Windows administrator for eight years and currently focus on Group Policy, backup, and IIS/Apache administration.
Let’s take a look at some of the ManageEngine Free Active Directory Tools.
ManageEngine Free Active Directory Tools
Password Policy Manager
Admins in a crunch can use the Password Policy manager tool to quickly view and edit a domain’s password policy. Rather than hunting down the effective GPO, you can quickly “login” to the manager using an administrative username and password and view/set enforced password history, minimum and maximum password age, minimum password length, complexity requirements, and whether or not to use reversible encryption to store passwords. You can also restore the default settings for a new domain.
Free ManageEngine Free Active Directory Tools – Password Policy Manager
Even experienced Windows administrators sometimes have to deal with duplicate object creep in their domains, something that can cause unexpected issues and waste considerable time. Among the AD Tools is the Get Duplicates tool, which simplifies duplicate object identification (but does not allow you to clean it up). Using Get Duplicates you can verify that your domain does not contain any messy duplicate objects.
ManageEngine Free Active Directory Tools – Get Duplicates Tools
Empty Password Checker
If you inherited a domain that did not enforce a password policy or you do not employ such a policy, you may inadvertently end up with accounts that do not have passwords. This is an obvious security risk and all accounts should have passwords (with very specific exceptions). You can use the Empty Password Checker tool to check for empty passwords in a particular OU or in your entire domain.
ManageEngine Free Active Directory Tools – Empty Password Checker
AD Replication Manager Tool
Possibly the most useful tool of the suite, the AD Replication Manager Tool makes manual, “push-button” replication a breeze. Instead of using command line tools or navigating through the clunky Active Directory MMCs, you can use the manager to force replication across your domain, between two domain controllers, or to view information about previous replications.
It is a pretty nifty tool – if you create a user in your Branch Office domain controller and need that user to be authenticated in another site (such as one where Exchange is located) you would normally have to wait for replication to occur. Using AD Replication Manager you can force replication to happen immediately between the two sites, easing potential headaches and reducing wait time. The replication information is also very useful for troubleshooting replication issues, displaying any errors that may have occurred in previous replication attempts.
ManageEngine Free Active Directory Tools – AD Replication Manager Tool
This tool allows you to shut off Terminal Service (and Remote Desktop) sessions remotely, which is great if you have encountered “this terminal server has exceeded the maximum number of allowed connections” error and need to eliminate a stale session. If you work in an environment with users who frequently leave administrative sessions hanging (and this is most certainly not optimal) you can clean up the mess as needed with a few clicks.
ManageEngine Free Active Directory Tools – Terminal Services Manager
AD Tools are great for the time-crunched administrator who wants a cost-and-worry free “toolkit” for some of the most common and annoying Active Directory tasks. While none of the tools are groundbreaking individually, and some administrators undoubtedly already have scripts that perform some functions, they are collectively very useful in a pinch. Give AD Tools a try today!