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Active Directory objects naming convention


Have you ever wondered about Active Directory objects naming convention in your domain environment? If not, but you wish to standardize their naming convention because your current one is not satisfactory then this article is for you.

Of course this is only a suggestion how to build the naming convention because there is no default and suitable template for all environments.

I will try to show you couple of examples for particular Active Directory objects and I hope you would be able to adjust them to your environment’s requirements.


Every domain environment is full of users. That’s why good to have some naming convention for them to avoid mess.

The most popular template is based on user’s first and last name. This allows you to define variety naming conventions.

One of them defines user’s login combined with first name and last name separated by special character like:

  • dot
  • hyphen
  • underscore
  • no special character

Let’s take a look closer to an example for a person: Krzysztof Pytko. Possible logins could look like:

  • Krzysztof.Pytko
  • KrzysztofPytko
  • Krzysztof_Pytko
  • KrzysztofPytko

There is nothing wrong in this convention but what will happen if some day another Krzysztof Pytko would be hired in a company? In this case you need to somehow differentiate users. One of available options is to add a digit/number at the end of user’s login for example:

  • Krzysztof.Pytko1
  • Krzysztof.Pytko2

and so on.

Another option uses user’s last name and part of first name (let’s say 3 letters), in example:

  • pytkokrz

You can of course use a lot of variants based on a solution shown above but this also does not guarantee unique logins in the environment.

It’s good to have a naming convention which defines unique logins. One of option is to use employee number assigned by HR department. This should be unique for every employee in the company. Of course this might be difficult to remember by user but after few usages it should be easily remembered.

Let’s take a look for few examples

  • 1001000001
  • 0000001
  • 1150010001

everything depends on your company’s policy assigning employee numbers.

The last one example uses country and location identifiers with the next free number. Let’s consider this for Poland/Wroclaw for 15th employee

  • PLWRO015 (for smaller environments up to 1000 users in a location)
  • PLWRO0015 (for medium environments up to 10000 users in a location)
  • PLWRO00015 (for larger environments up to 100000 users in a location)
  • PLWRO000015 (for huge environments up to 1000000 users in a location)

That was not all possible options but this should show you a direction to create your own user’s naming convention.


As in previous paragraph, every domain is also full of groups. They are mostly used to grant access to resources but they have other purpose like:

  • role
  • fine-grained password policy
  • mail group
  • or other not mentioned here

However, regardless of their destination, every group must belongs to one of those types:

  • domain local
  • global
  • universal

So, you can use as group prefix, its type and it would look like:

  • l – for domain local groups
  • gfor global groups
  • ufor universal groups

OK, I have mentioned group prefix, so this probably means that I have some template to build group’s name? Yes, you’re right, I have something like that. Group naming convention relies on 2 variants in this case and depends on:

  • group is for resource access
  • group is not for resource access

 Let’s take a look what we need for group’s name, designated for resource access control:

  • group prefix
  • department owner
  • group role
  • group suffix

As group prefix, it’s good to choose group type, to simply underline what kind of type it is. Another possibility is to use prefix indicating for a group role. For department owner, specify short name or unique id of team to which it is designated. Group role should clearly define for what this group is used and it may be few words separated by hyphen () or underscore (_). However, I would recommend using hyphens only, it is much more readable form. Group suffix is mostly used only for resource access groups, which states if group has read-only (-r) or modify (-rw) permissions.

OK, let’s see few examples of resource groups for couple of departments:

  • IT department with licensing data
  • HR department with payroll data
  • Finance department with invoices
  • Common resources for all departments with instructions

All group types for IT department in above example are presented below:

  • litlicensing-datar (for read-only access); litlicensing-datarw (for modify access)
  • gitlicensing-datar (for read-only access); gitlicensing-datarw (for modify access)
  • uitlicensing-datar (for read-only access); uitlicensing-datarw (for modify access)

All group types for HR department with payroll data in above example are presented below:

  • lhrpayrollr; lhrpayrollrw
  • ghrpayrollr; ghrpayrollrw
  • uhrpayrollr; uhrpayrollrw

All group types for finance department with invoices data:

  • lfinanceinvoicer; lfinanceinvoicerw
  • gfinanceinvoicer; gfinanceinvoicerw
  • ufinanceinvoicer; ufinanceinvoicerw

and all group types for common resources share in read-only mode as modify is rarely used for all departments:

  • lallinstructionsr
  • gallinstructionsr
  • uallinstructionsr

That was not all possible options but this should show you a direction to create your own groups’s naming convention.

Computers and Servers

OK, now we are going into another important part on naming convention. This scheme is related with user devices and servers. It is really good to have common template for those machines as it would simply allow identifying them without logging on onto them.

There is a lot of possibilities and they rely on how much big is your environment. I will show you just couple of options which may direct you into your own scheme.


You need to remember that we are still limited to 15 characters in a computer name which is caused by NetBIOS.

Let’s start with the environments where up to 10000 computers in single location is enough.



  • CC – is for country code
  • LLL – is a location code
  • S – is for operating system type (Windows, Unix, Linux, Solaris, BSD)
  • VV – is operating system version (XP, 07, 08, 81, 10)
  • FFF – is machine function (WKS, NTB, TAB, MOB)
  • XXXX – next number for machine

and below you can find few examples of scheme usage for 2 locations (Poland/Wroclaw and England/London):

  • PLWROW07WKS0001 (for computer with Windows 7)
  • PLWROW81WKS0005 (for computer with Windows 8.1)
  • PLWROW81NTB0015 (for notebook with Windows 8.1)
  • PLWROW81TAB0002 (for tablet with Windows 8.1)
  • UKLONWXPWKS0001 (for computer with Windows XP)
  • UKLONW07NTB0004 (for notebook with Windows 7)
  • UKLONW81TAB0150 (for tablet with Windows 8.1)

in a companies where more devices (up to 100000) are needed in one location, this convention might be selected (this is modification of this one above)


  • CC – is for country code
  • LLL – is a location code
  • S – is for operating system type (Windows, Unix, Linux, Solaris, BSD)
  • VV – is operating system version (XP, 07, 08, 81, 10)
  • FF – is machine function (PC, NB, TA, MO)
  • XXXXX – next number for machine

just short single example: PLWROW81PC00005

and a case for really large companies where up to 1000000 devices are needed in one location (this is modification of this one above)

  • CC – is for country code
  • LLL – is a location code
  • S – is for operating system type (Windows, Unix, Linux, Solaris, BSD)
  • VV – is operating system version (XP, 07, 08, 81, 10)
  • F – is machine function (Pc, Notebook, Tablet, Mobile)
  • XXXXXX – next number for machine

just short single example: UKLONW81T000015


Situation with servers name is similar to computers with the same limitation to 15 characters of NetBIOS name. You can simply apply the same scheme with small modifications.

Below scheme is good for environments where no more than 1000 servers of the same role are located within the same site.



  • CC – is for country code
  • LLL – is a location code
  • S – is for operating system type (Windows, Unix, Linux, Solaris, BSD)
  • VV – is operating system version (03 – 2003, 08 – 2008, 12 – 2012)
  • R – is for operating system release (1 – release 1, 2 – release 2)
  • FFF – is machine function (DCR, DCW, FIL, PRT, APP, MGM)
  • XXX – next number for machine

Machine function in template above states:

  • DCR – Read-Only Domain Controller
  • DCW – Domain Controller
  • FIL – File Server
  • PRT – Print Server
  • APP – Application Server
  • MGM – Management Server

Ok, let’s consider few servers according to above naming convention:

  • PLWROW121DCW001
  • PLWROW122DCW002
  • PLWAWW122DCR001
  • PLWROW082FIL001
  • PLWROW082PRT001
  • PLPOZW032MGM003

this should be enough for most environments but if this is too less then you need to replace one server function character for the digit like:


you have less letters to describe more detailed server’s role but this allows you to have up to 10000 servers with the same role in the same site.

Let’s see short example of this scheme usage  PLWROW121APP0001


To define printer naming convention you have a lot of possibilities, so I will present only one which seems to be good in my opinion. This is using:



  • SSS – printer signature
  • P – is it pooled or not (0 – no , 1 – pooled)
  • MMM – device manufacturer (SAM – Samsung, LEX – Lexmark, CAN – Cannon, HPP – HP Printer, KYO – Kyocera, RIC – Ricoh)
  • XXX – device number

Let’s see how this looks in practice:

  • PRT0LEX001
  • PRT0HPP002
  • PRT0RIC001
  • PRT1SAM001

Remember! Put detailed information of the printer’s location in printer’s properties as this is not available in naming convention.

I think that’s all for printers. As I said there is a lot of possibilities but I chose this one.

Group Policies

One more object remained on my list. This is GPO which is rarely used according to any naming convention. Especially in outsourced environments where many administrators are managing group policies.

I strongly suggest to apply some good scheme for those objects as it is much more convenient in management where a lot of policies are deployed.

For Group Policy naming convention you can use:

  • GPO prefix
  • GPO function (words separated by hyphen ““)
  • GPO suffix
  • GPO description (optional out of naming convention)

where GPO prefix is one of:

  • WIN – for Windows policies
  • CTX – for Citrix policies
  • RDS – for Terminal/Remote Desktop Services
  • TST – test policies
  • CUS – customer policies
  • OLD – old policies awaiting for removal

where GPO suffix is one of:

  • LPM – for loopback policy in merge mode
  • LPR – for loopback policy in replace mode
  • SCF – security filtering enabled
  • WMI – WMI filter applied
  • GPP – group policy preferences defined

basing on that, you can create GPOs in your environment. Below couple of examples:

  • winie-restrictions-control-panel
  • ctxscreen-saverlpr
  • tstwsus-updatescf
  • winfolder-mapping-drive-hgpp

and that’s all about naming convention in this article. I hope it was somehow helpful for you and you could build your custom naming convention for Active Directory objects.

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

iSiek’s forum has been launched


I would like to announce you that iSiek’s forum about Microsoft Windows services has been launched!

iSiek's forum

iSiek’s forum

I hope you would participate in building new IT community on this forum. I hope we would be able to help each other.

You are invited! I encourage you to register your account for free and start posting your issues or try to help others.

Just some simple forum’s rules

  1. Forum is free of charge. It is maintained from ads.
  2. To contribute in community, free registration is required
  3. Write posts in English
  4. Check forums if similar problem does not exist
  5. Use appropriate forum to post issue
  6. Do not spam
  7. Use external services to attach images/logs and place only link to them
  8. Be polite and do not use vulgarism
  9. If you do not want to help, do not answer

Be a part of this new community and make family atmosphere here.

I hope we will make this IT world better!

Forum address is

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

Setting default domain password policy


Every domain environment needs a default domain password policy.

You have it, am I right?

Even if you don’t know, default password policy is available in your domain. By default, you will find all its settings within “Default Domain Policy“. This policy is applied at domain level.

Default Domain Policy

Default Domain Policy

To start with domain password policy, please read the article I published some time ago: Domain Password Policy

The question is: did you review password policy settings and considered password requirements for your environment?

Or just like the most administrators: “Hey, I was hired to this company much more later when password policy was in-place. I did not need to touch it!

Oh really?! Do you know that you (as a domain administrator) are responsible for password security? Yes, you are! So, let’s take closer look at those settings and what you can configure as reasonable default password policy.

 Default password settings

When you deploy new domain, you don’t have to configure password policy from the scratch. There are default values set up.

Default password settings

Default password settings

Of course, password settings should be adjusted to your company needs. Leaving the defaults might not be appropriate and I would strongly recommend to do that.

Let’s see what we can configure there. You will find password policies in two nodes under

Computer Configuration -> Policies -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Account Policies

These nodes are:

  • Password Policy
  • Account Lockout Policy

In Password Policy node you can configure:

  • Enforce password history
  • Maximum password age
  • Minimum password age
  • Minimum password length
  • Password must meet complexity requirements
  • Store passwords using reversible encryption

and in Account Lockout Policy node are these options:

  • Account lockout duration
  • Account lockout threshold
  • Reset account lockout counter after

Above options are responsible for building good password policy – default domain password policy.

Let’s see what they mean and what you can set up there.

Password Policy settings

This is really important node where you can define how the password would be built and how much secure it is. You need to remember that you are setting default password policy for your domain. All those settings will be applied to every domain account.

Password Policy settings

Password Policy settings

Remember! Users may complain about password setting but only then if you will force them to use very long passwords and if it will expire to often.

Enforce password history

To start building password policy you need to consider how many unique passwords user must set, before it would be possible to go back and use the oldest one.

For that “Enforce password history” setting is responsible. You need to define value, how many unique passwords are required to be set by user, before allowing him to use previous passwords.

Enforce password history explanation

Enforce password history explanation

Allowed value is between 0 (no password history) and 24 (maximum)

For default domain password policy I would suggest to set value of 10.

Changed enforce password history setting

Changed enforce password history setting

This is quite secure and allow much more simple calculation for other setting showed a little bit later in this article.

In this case, the setting means that user must set 10 unique passwords before he can go back and use first from the previous list of passwords.

There is slight chance that user would not reuse his passwords 🙂

Maximum password age

Another important setting in the policy is how often users must change their password.

Maximum password age explanation

Maximum password age explanation

Maximum password age value must be between 0 and 998 days.

Setting value of 0 causes that password expires every 0 days! That means in reality – password never expires

You definitively should avoid of using this value in productive environments! Especially that this is not easy to find out, because password never expires flag is not modified and you cannot see this directly in Active Directory Users and Computers console. Password never expires checkbox is NOT selected then!

Note! Good practice shows that password should be changed in range of 30 – 90 days.

When you set this value up too short, users would complain that they have to change password too often. This might cause a problem with “yellow sticks” around computer where users write their passwords!

For default domain password policy 90 days look reasonable and users are not complaining too much.

Maximum password age setting

Maximum password age setting

I would recommend of setting this value for the maximum password age. Password change once per 3 months is acceptable and no one should complain.

Minimum password age

This is really important setting and as I can see many administrators are afraid of setting this value to custom time.

Information! Minimum password age policy is responsible for controlling how often user is allowed to change the password.

Mostly, in the environments I see one of these two values:

  • 0 days
  • 1 day

By the default, you can find 1 day as minimum password age setting.

This means that user can change the password and in if he wants to do that again, he needs to wait 1 day before it would be possible again.

Minimum password age explanation

Minimum password age explanation

OK, but what’s wrong in this setting?

User is allowed to change the password once per day. That means, user can repeat this procedure every day to go back to his first (favourite) password.

At current stage, you defined 10 unique passwords, so after 10 days, user would be able to reuse his previous password again and use it for the next 80 days until system will force its change!

The situation looks even worse if the setting contains 0 days as a value.

There is no restriction to password change time limit for user! This means, user can simply go back to the previous password within the same day!

Setting strength options in other policies does not make sense as you can see, user would be able to have always the same password, all the time.

That’s why this setting is really important!

So, how should I set up this value?

I was wondering how to adjust this value in different environments and I figured it out.

I invented a formula to calculate appropriate value. Because password policies vary in every environment, I needed some common way to achieve this.

To simply calculate this value I used:

  • Enforce password history count
  • Maximum password age
Minumum password age formula

Minumum password age formula

This is really secure and reasonable value. You may be sure that user would not be able to reuse the first password during one password life cycle.

Hey, but users start complaining that they cannot change password on demand!

No, they would not! Believe me 🙂

The number of regular users, who are changing their passwords before forced by the system, is less than 1% in every environment.

Even administrator would not do that themselves 😀

Besides, they are allowed to change their password, but not every day.

That would help you to find out what is going on in your domain when some users will call IT department or HelpDesk too frequenty and request password change. Maybe an account is shared between other users? 🙂

Relying on this formula Minimum password age value is 10 days

Minimum password age

Minimum password age

and put calculated minimum password age into policy

Minimum password age setting

Minimum password age setting

Minimum password length

Ok, password life cycle is defined but we need to set up its length. You know that above settings would be nothing if you allow to use too simple password, rigth?

The setting should be chose wisely as enforcing users to set very long password might cause an issue with forgoten passwords or account lockouts. Sometimes it might be worse, they would use “yellow sticks” where password is written.

Possible values for this setting are between 1 and 14 characters.

Minimum password length explanation

Minimum password length explanation

When you set this up to 0 characters then password would not be required. Of course this is strongly not recommended!

Setting it between 8 -12 charactes is good enough and no one should complain.

Minimum password length setting

Minimum password length setting

Password must meet complexity requirements

Another important password policy setting.

If you do not use this option, your password policy would be weak.

Thanks to this setting you have to use 3 types of different characters out of 4 groups:

  • uppercase characters [A – Z]
  • lowercase characters [a – z ]
  • digits [0 – 9]
  • special characters [!@#$%^&*()-=_+]

This policy may be enabled or disabled. When it’s enabled, password is much more secure and of course I would recommend to have it enabled.

Password must meet complexity requirements explanation

Password must meet complexity requirements explanation

Store passwords using reversible encryption

That setting should never be enabled in default domain password policy unless you really need it and you have Windows Server 2000/2003 Domain Functional Level where Fine-Grained Password Policies are unavailable.

Enabling this setting causes that password is unsafe as it is stored like it would be saved in plain text!

Store passwords using reversible encryption explanation

Store passwords using reversible encryption explanation

That’s all about defined password policy strength.

Now it’s time to configure policies responisble for account lockout behavior.

Account Lockout Policy settings

Policies located under this node are responsible for locking account if user types password incorrectly few times in a row.

By default, they are unconfigured and account is not locking at all!

So, if this is not configured should I take care of it? If you are asking me – yes, always!

This should be configured in every domain environment. Even if you think that it is not necessary, turn it on.

Just set up Account lockout threshold value to something really high like 50. That’s quite enough failed logon attempts for users and still prevents infinite password guess by hackers or other dangerous stuff.

Let’s take a look at those policies and try to configure them reasonably.

Account lockout threshold

As mentioned above, if you think that you do not need this policy, turn it on and specify high number like 50 attempts

That’s quite enough failed logon attempts for users and still prevents infitite password guess by hackers or other dangerous stuff.

Account lockout threshold explanation

Account lockout threshold explanation

In other case when you would like to implement this feature in your environment, please follow below formula

Account lockout threshold formula

Account lockout threshold formula

This would allow your users to check every password used in the past and gives them extra 2 tries if some typo would appear in the password box. After that they will call IT or HelpDesk team 🙂

Based on that formula, current value is 12 failed logon attempts before account is locked out

Account lockout threshold value

Account lockout threshold value

Just set this up in the policy and 2 other option would activate

Account lockout threshold setting

Account lockout threshold setting

When you apply changes, another windows with 2 other settings appear filled with deafult values

Account lockout options

Account lockout options

Account lockout duration

Account lockout duration policy is responsible for locking a domain account for specified duration of time. When failed attempt logon count is reached, this policy locks temporarily the account.

When specified time passes, the account is unlocked and user may try to logon again using his credentials. To logon sooner, user needs to contact with IT or HelpDesk department and request manual account unlock.

Account lockout duration time explanation

Account lockout duration time explanation

Default value for this policy is reasonable. 30 minutes of account lockout is acceptable, after that time user is able to try to logon again.

If you need much more control when account is locked out, set up 0 as a value. Then account must be always unlocked by administrator.

Reset account lockout counter after

This setting must be less or equal to Account lockout duration time. It defines after what time failed logon attempt is reset and user may try to logon once again.

The setting gives user one more chance and if password is provided inproperly, account is locked out again for time specified in Accout lockout duration policy.

Reset account lockout counter after explanation

Reset account lockout counter after explanation

I would strongly recommend leaving the value with the same time as in Account lockout duration. Then users would not try to experiment with their password and do not extend lockout period.

When you implement all those setting in your password policy, take a look at its summary

New password policy summary

New password policy summary

it looks much better and much more secure than the deafult one and maybe better than your previous policy 🙂

Now, you need to only refresh password policy on your Domain Controllers and test if it is working fine for the next password change.

On Windows Server 2003, 2008 and 2008R2 open command line and type

gpudate /force
gpupdate /force

gpupdate /force

to start refreshing group policies

GPOs refreshed

GPOs refreshed

On Windows Server 2012 and 2012R2 use PowerShell cmd-let for that

Invoke-GPUpdate cmd-let

Invoke-GPUpdate cmd-let

to get the same result as above.

And that’s all. Your default domain password policy is wisely implemented.

If you wish to deploy other password policies for other group of users and you have at least Windows Server 2008 Domain Functional Level please read these articles on my blog how to do that.

Fine-Grained Password Policy in Windows Server 2008/2008R2

Fine-Grained Password Policy in Windows Server 2012/2012R2

Author: Krzysztof Pytko

Active Directory and SYSVOL replication status


This time some short article about new feature in Group Policy Management console in Windows Server 2012. You can very simply and in quick time see current status of GPO on your Domain Controllers. Using GPMC console you can see if group policies are replicated between all Domain Controllers in a domain.

To check that, select requested GPO and in the right pane click on “Status” tab.

As you can see, GPMC in Windows Server 2008/2008R2 has no that tab to see that directly

GPMC in Windows Server 2008/2008R2

when you do the same in GPMC console in Windows Server 2012 or using RSAT for Windows 8, you will see the new tab

GPMC in Windows Server 2012

This new tab allows you to see in quick way current status of every GPO. You can see if any Domain Controller is requesting GPO replication or not and you will also see error(s) for GPO when it is not replicated.

To see how it works, create some example GPO and select it in GPMC, click on “Status” tab and check what there is displayed in default view

Default view for GPO under status tab

You can see there, that no information is gathered for specified Domain Controller. If you wish to check GPO status on particular DC, click “Change” and select it from the list

Changing Domain Controller

Changing Domain Controller

now, click “Detect” button to gather information about current policy

Gathering GPO information

and you can see if any DC is being replicated policy or if there is any issue. When everything is OK, you should see all information under green area

Correct GPO status

In this case everything is OK, and GPO is properly replicated between current DC and DC with PDC Emulator.

When some Domain Controller is replicating data or replication failed, you will see appropriate information under red question mark area.

Inproper GPO status

So, thankfully to this new feature, you can simply verify if your policies are replicating between Domain Controllers.

Author: Krzysztof Pytko