Rules to Better Active Directory

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  1. Do you add Staff profile pictures into AD?

    You can upload Staff profile pictures into Active Directory. Exchange and Lync will automatically use these profile pictures. 

    ​Using a free third party tool AD Photo Edit tool which can be downloaded from you can upload Staff profile pictures into AD. You need to run the application with Domain Admin rights. After you have uploaded the picture for a user it will take some time for the change to be replicated through to Exchange and Lync if you have use these solutions.

    Figure: Profile picture imported from AD into Exchange 
    Figure: Profile picture imported from AD into Lync
  2. Do you have a postmaster account in your Microsoft Exchange?

    ​What is a postmaster account? 

    It is an RFC mandated specification email address use to identify the administrator of a mail server. Any errors in email processing are directed to the postmaster address.

    The email received at this address is sent to the mail server administrator, in our case the SysAdmins. 

    At SSW we have configured as a distribution group, with mail server administrators as members of this distribution group.

    Figure: Group members of​
  3. Do you standardize AD group names?

    The use of standardized AD Group names is a simple yet crucial step towards building more manageable software. Raining in on the number of AD Groups used by an application will make it simpler to manage and allow new developers to pick up an existing project faster.

    You can save yourself countless confused conversations by standardizing AD Group Names.

    For example: This is a list of AD groups associated with products.


    Figure: Bad Example – It is difficult to know the correct name for an AD group

    SSW LinkAuditor

    Figure: Good Example – By standardizing the names of AD groups it saves confusion

    For large organizations, a better way is to use a type of group (eg. Local or Global)… then the entity it is associated to… then the resource (or service).  

    Example #1:


    That becomes “L-SYD-SP-SSW-Users"

    Example #2:


    That becomes “G-SYD-SP-SSW-Users"

    ​Note: You would not use this naming convention for distribution groups – as they would display to users.

    It is recommended by default to have two AD groups per product. The following table should be used as a guide for naming them:

    SSW<ProductName>Distribution groupThis email is used to send emails to the development team for a product.
    SSW <ProductName>EventsMailboxActs as the collection point for all automatic notifications. For example notifications from Elmah and/or application insights.
  4. Do you use Group Policy to Apply Settings to all of your PCs?

    ​​Group Policy is simply the easiest way to reach out and configure computer and user settings on network based on Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). If your business is not using Group Policy, you are missing a huge opportunity to reduce costs, control configuration, keep users productive and happy, and harden security. Think of Group Policy as "touch once, configure many."

    ​You can manage all aspects of Group Policy by using the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC). You start the GPMC from the Start menu: Click Start, All Programs, Administrative Tools, Group Policy Management. You can also click Start, type Group Policy Management, and then click Group Policy Management in the Programs section of the Start menu. Windows Server 2008 onwards include the GPMC when they are running the AD DS role. 


    Figure: Group Policy Management Console showing GPO

  5. Do you use Group Policy to enable Hibernate option

    Group Policy is a fast and effective way to configure Hibernate on multiple PC's

    ​To enable Hibernate option in Group Policy open up Group Policy Management. 

    1. Create a new Group Policy Object and name it "EnableHibernate"

    2. Right click on "EnableHibernate" and click on Edit to bring up Group Policy Management Editor

    3. Select 'Show hibernate in the power options menu' from Computer Configuration | Policies | Administrator Templates | Windows Component | File Explorer and set to Enabled

    4. Back in Group Policy Management Enable Link for "EnableHibernate"  

    5. Wait for a few moment for GPO to refresh and apply. Alternatively manually force a GP Update through Command Prompt - GPUpdate /force. Check that Hibernate Option is now in Start Menu.

  6. Do you use separate Administrator account?

    When using a single account for normal user login and admin tasks the first thing that comes to mind is all of the Group Policy settings associated with that account. This could include scripts, software installations, drive mappings, printers and many other settings that would apply when you log on to a computer in the domain. You wouldn’t want all of these to apply when log on to a Domain Controller of any other servers.

    Another reason is you may step away from your computer and forget to lock the computer. This will expose your computer for your co-workers and tinker with your system and as a consequence if that account has domain administrator privilege they can change system security and settings on any Domain Controller and other servers.

    To prevent this, at SSW we create a separate Administrator account, with the prefix Admin. This signifies that it is an Admin account and does have administrator privileges. The Admin account is also placed in a separate OU to ensure that it is not receiving unnecessary Group Policies. This allows us to setup permissions easier, only provide access to machines required, and also makes the user aware that they are doing something dangerous so they are inheritably more careful. A standard account (Non Admin prefix account) does not and should not have access to any servers.
    Figure: SSW AD Users and Computers showing Admin accounts in separate OU