active directory

MaxPowerSoft Active Directory Reports Professional – 4sysops

Thomas Mitchell

Tom is an IT veteran with 25+ years of techniques engineering and infrastructure experience. His core skillset features in-depth information of quite a few technologies, most notably Microsoft Change / O365, Active Directory, and Microsoft Azure. Tom can also be a prolific content material producer for a number of IT web sites and coaching platforms. His residence base online is www.thomasmitchell.internet.

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Microsoft previewed Active Directory (AD) in 1999 and then released it with Home windows 2000 Server Edition. I worked with AD then, and I work with it to today. It’s protected to say I’ve acquired fairly a little bit of AD expertise.

As a long-time AD admin/engineer/architect, I’m all the time looking out for a device that can help handle AD extra successfully. Last week, I received a chance to take a look at Active Directory Reports Professional from MaxPowerSoft. In this article, I’m going to inform you a bit about my experience with it.

Set up and licensing ^

Installing Active Directory Reports Professional is simple. I simply launched the installer, agreed to the terms and licensing, and then chosen the folder to put in to. The installation consisted of only a handful of “Next” clicks. General, it required less than 200 MB of disk area.

Licensing the software required a license key within the form of a text file. After launching the appliance, it instantly greeted me with a warning that my software program was unregistered. After clicking “OK” on the warning, all I had to do was click “Help” and then “Register.” After shopping to my registration key and thus registering the software program, it was time to take a look at a few of the features.

Dashboard ^

When the appliance opens, it routinely connects to the AD forest. It presents you with a number of tabs, which embrace Forest, Customers, Groups, OU, Computers, GPO, Contacts, Trade, Printers, NTFS, and Customized. Each tab focuses on auditing and reporting on the related AD piece.

Forest info ^

The Forest tab offers a concise view of the AD forest. It neatly lays out all pertinent forest info, making it simply accessible. From the Forest tab, you possibly can view details about the AD forest itself together with all related information about the domain security policy that’s in place. Information about password insurance policies, account lockout durations, and lots of other security-related settings contained inside the area safety coverage are right there to see.

Using Active Directory Reports Professional is a way more pleasant approach of reviewing what the security policy settings are for an AD setting. As an alternative of launching Group Coverage Administration, opening the security coverage, and tracking via it to see what’s up, you’ll be able to just view the Area Safety Policy window within the Forest tab. Every part it is advisable to find out about your present security policy is definitely accessible.

Forest tab

Forest tab

Users info ^

As impressed as I’m with the Forest tab info, the Users tab accommodates even more useful info. In addition to the default All Customers report, the Users tab consists of a number of dozen user-centric stories you should use to actually dig down into the consumer base of an AD surroundings. The device breaks down the reviews into two classes: Common Reports and Standing Reports.

Beneath Basic Reports, many canned stories allow you to monitor down issues like customers with and without managers, customers with and without dial-in entry, consumer profile info, and more. The Status Reports section presents stories which might be more audit-centric. Reports in this part concentrate on issues like enabled/disabled accounts, locked out accounts, expiring accounts, non-expiring accounts, and extra. Reports that fall underneath the Standing Reports section can be very helpful for enjoyable stuff like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) audits and whatnot. Manually monitoring down a lot of the audit knowledge that the standing stories return is why AD directors groan when auditors show up. The studies contained in Active Directory Reports Professional should make your life easier in case you are an AD administrator.

There are simply too many studies to get into all of them here (I might write a whole guide), but the studies that I, as an skilled AD engineer, find most helpful are the Standing Reports that return info on expired accounts, disabled accounts, and locked accounts. Not only are these stories useful during audits, however they’re also helpful during day-to-day operations.

Forest tab

Forest tab

Teams info ^

While I don’t discover the Teams tabs to be quite as helpful because the Users tab, that doesn’t imply it’s not useful. What I found while perusing the Teams tab was about two dozen canned stories that include details about the groups inside the AD surroundings. The reviews found within the Groups tab break down into three sections: Common Reports, Security Group Reports, and Distribution Group Reports.

Admittedly, I found the Groups tab much less helpful than many different tabs as a result of you’ll be able to typically find the totally different groups it studies on quite easily in AD Customers and Computer systems (ADUC). Nevertheless, having the whole lot in one place is definitely useful, and it definitely makes life just a little easier for the administrator. Now, one thing I did really like concerning the Groups reviews are the Deleted Groups stories. These kind of stories could be very useful when troubleshooting sudden lack of entry to shares, assets, and different stuff.

So, as far as the Teams studies go? I appreciated them but didn’t love them.

Groups tab

Groups tab

Organizational unit (OU) info ^

The OU tab is deceptively useful. Though the stories contained in it appear to offer restricted info (similar to All OU, Users Only OU, GPO Linked OU, and so on.), the knowledge these studies do embrace is just the type of oddball info executives typically ask for.

In organizations with unnecessarily complicated OU buildings (a pet peeve of mine), the OU stories contained within Active Directory Reports Professional might be lifesavers for AD administrators. As an alternative of monitoring down PowerShell scripts or formulating complicated search queries to seek out obscure details about OUs inside an AD setting, directors can just pull up this info in Active Directory Reports Professional.

OU tab

OU tab

Computer systems info ^

To be trustworthy, I used to be sort of stunned at how many totally different computer-centric stories can be found in Active Directory Reports Professional. The Basic Pc Reports it supplies embrace stories on enabled and disabled workstations, servers, and even area controllers. The stories on lately created and just lately deleted computer systems are notably helpful—especially through the always-fun SOX audits for organizations lucky enough to should cope with them.

A second part underneath the Computer systems tab is known as Pc Logon Standing Reports. The stories contained on this section let the administrator determine pc accounts that have never logged in, pc accounts which were inactive for a sure time period, lively computer systems, and rather more. I find these kinds of reviews helpful when making an attempt to maintain AD clear. Far too typically, machines (especially workstations) are physically decommissioned but left behind in AD, resulting in a messy surroundings. With these kind of easy-to-use reviews, AD becomes a lot less of a chore.

Computers tab

Computer systems tab

Group Coverage Object (GPO) info ^

I’ve labored for a number of managed service providers (MSPs) throughout my profession. As such, I’ve seen some loopy stuff in AD—particularly when dealing with smaller, understaffed shoppers. Whenever you work for an MSP, it’s not unusual to get into an AD setting and see dozens or even tons of of GPOs outlined. Worse yet, lots of these GPOs are sometimes undocumented—some GPOs even being empty. Even worse, it’s not unusual to come across AD issues brought on by conflicting GPO settings.

Monitoring down GPO headaches isn’t essentially “hard,” however it can be very time-consuming. Unraveling which GPOs are inflicting Susie to map to the wrong printer or file share is usually a nightmare—particularly and not using a full image of what GPOs are in play to begin with. For these causes, I discovered the 15 or 20 canned GPO studies very useful. For instance, the Not Linked report lets an administrator who is troubleshooting GPO points instantly determine and rule out any unlinked GPOs. Likewise, the Consumer Settings Enabled, Pc Settings Enabled, Consumer Settings Disabled, and Pc Settings Disabled stories let the admin simply see which GPOs might or will not be affecting a selected consumer or pc.

Apart from perhaps the Users tab, I found the GPO tab to include fairly probably probably the most useful reviews.

GPO tab

GPO tab

Contacts and Change tabs ^

Since I don’t have Change operating in my lab, I didn’t get to mess around an excessive amount of with the studies in these tabs. That stated, having info on all organization contacts and all Trade info in a single place—and simply accessible—makes life for the administrator far easier.

Printers info ^

Another dozen or so canned reviews are available within the Printers tab. It’s essential to note, nevertheless, that the printer info included on this tab references printers revealed in AD. In any case, that is an AD device.

As far as how helpful the Printers studies go, properly, that’s going to rely upon what number of printers you will have revealed in AD. In case you are a small store, I might see the Printers tab not being terribly useful. Nevertheless, giant organizations with plenty of printers might discover the printer reviews helpful.

The studies included let you report on issues like managed and unmanaged printers, colour printers within the surroundings, duplexing capabilities, and printers created and deleted lately. As I discussed, smaller organizations are more likely to take a cross on these studies, but in case you are a large group and have to get a deal with on printers spread out via the setting, I might see these stories being very helpful.

Printers tab

Printers tab

NTFS info ^

In contrast to the Printers tab, the NTFS tab might be extremely useful to all organizations giant and small. Broken out into two sections (Folder Reports and File Reports), this tab presents some really good insight into file shares in use.

The NTFS studies supply up info on permissions and auditing settings applied to folders and information alike. With such a info readily available, organizations can carry out share cleanups and monitor down who has access the place extra simply. Utilizing the reviews obtainable within the NTFS tab lets organizations get a deal with on access permissions to information and folders throughout the setting.

NTFS tab

NTFS tab

Custom tab ^

The custom tab is actually just a container in your personal custom studies. The canned reviews out there in all the opposite tabs we’ve coated beforehand are all customizable. Simply right-clicking a canned report provides the power to customise it. You possibly can then save the custom-made report in order that it returns the knowledge most necessary to you. Once you do this, it stores the custom report in the Customized tab beneath the related subsection. This supplies quick access to the reviews that matter most to you.

Custom tab

Custom tab

Further features ^

We couldn’t cover all features of AD Reports. Listed here are a number of more features that it is best to take a look at:

  • Ship scheduled studies by way of e-mail
  • Execute beforehand scheduled stories with the scheduling service and send e-mails even when AD Reports shouldn’t be operating
  • Create reviews with complicated LDAP filters
  • Create consumer / group / pc / OU membership reviews with “grid IN grid” help
  • Exclude unreachable DCs

Ultimate thoughts ^

So here’s what I take into consideration MaxPowerSoft’s Active Directory Reports Professional product:

General, I feel it’s a reasonably strong product. It’s straightforward to put in and requires minimal setup. The software program routinely finds the listing and immediately provides invaluable info. Although the licensing notification makes you assume there was an error during set up or launch, it’s a principally trivial annoyance. So long as you’re paying attention, it becomes apparent it is prompting you for a license key.

So far as performance goes, I have no complaints. There actually is “something for everyone” inside the software. While some smaller organizations will get little use from some features (corresponding to Printers reviews), they’ll use many different studies included with the device (comparable to NTFS stories). For bigger organizations with formal auditing necessities (resembling SOX), I can see this software being quite useful to directors.

All informed, MaxPowerSoft Active Directory Reports Professional gets a thumbs up from me.

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