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MaxPowerSoft Active Directory Reports Lite is a free Active Directory reporting tool that allows you to generate Active Directory reports very quickly and easily. This utility was already in the list of free Active Directory tools under the name “Active Directory Reporting Tool” a while back. It was available only as a commercial tool for some time; now, the Lite version is back as a freeware tool. This is an update of my former review, just in case you wonder why some of the comments are older than the publish date of this article.
The user interface of Active Directory Reports Lite is well designed and intuitive to use. I sometimes call such tools “click-as-you-go” applications. That is, you don’t have to grapple with a manual or mess with complicated syntax, and you can just focus on your real task. So aside from being able to use a mouse, you only have to know Active Directory in order to create reports with this tool.
For most reports, you will only need two or three mouse clicks. You need the first click to select one of the six tabs (Forest, Users, Groups, Organizational Units, Computers, GPO) and the second click for one of the properties in the navigation pane. These properties cover the most common report types. For instance, the User Accounts Status Reports section on the Users tab offers reports for disabled user accounts or users with expired passwords, and the Computers tab has reports for machines running a certain Windows version. All in all, Active Directory Reports offers more than 150 such reports.
In most cases, you are already done after those two clicks. Sometimes you might need a third click if you want to sort or group the results according to a certain Active Directory object attribute. If the report generates too many results, you might want to apply an additional filter.
The easiest way to create a filter is to type a search term right below a column heading. As you type, Active Directory Reports will limit the output to the objects that match your search term. It is also possible to search multiple columns. At the bottom of the results pane, you will see the filter that you have created this way.
If you need to perform a more sophisticated search, you can access the tool’s Filter Editor by right-clicking one of the column headings. This filter editor is also in the “click-as-you-go” style. Nevertheless, it is quite powerful as it allows you to create any thinkable Active Directory query. You can group multiple queries and relate them with AND, OR, NOT AND, and NOT OR operators.
I like that the filter is still active when you select another report in the navigation pane. Thus if the objects you were looking for don’t appear in the results pane, you can try some of the other reports.
It is possible to remove or add columns in the report. A useful feature is the “Best Fit” function, which adjusts the column width to the size of the largest row. The “Best Fit (all columns)” function does the same for all columns. Why doesn’t Excel have such a feature? It would have come in handy numerous times.
Active Directory Reports Lite is the little brother of Active Directory Reports Professional, which has quite a few additional features. Most noteworthy is that you can’t export and print reports in the free tool. The Lite version limits the number of objects that can be displayed in a report to 200. Note that this does not mean that you can only use the free version with an Active Directory that has fewer than 200 objects. It only means that a warning will be displayed whenever your query produces more than 200 objects as a result. In most cases, I think the 200 object limit probably won’t be a big problem. Please have a look at the comparison table at the vendor’s site to get an overview of the additional features that Active Directory Reports Professional has to offer.
I think both Active Directory Reporting tools are worth a try.
Update: Also check out AD Info, a new Active Directory reporting tool.