Using Active Directory Query tools to simplify Network Administration

If you are managing a Microsoft Active Directory you will need to perform various queries on users and other objects in AD. This is even more important if your organization is large and has many people and infrastructure. You can use the built-in Microsoft command: “dsquery” to perform Active Directory queries. If you have some basic scripting knowledge you can read the following TechNet article that explains the usage of the dsquery command.

By running queries on Active Directory you can gain important insight of your users, computers and groups. For example you may need to find a list of all users’ accounts who did not login to the network more than 90 days. Similar you may find computers that did not login for the past few months. You may use more sophisticated queries for example – list all users who’s properties has been modified during the last week.

A simpler way

If the learning of various queries is not your top priority, there are various AD query tools that you can use to perform such queries, most of them are free. In this article we will review some useful query tools that will improve your network administration remarkably!

AD Query by ManageEngine provides basic user interface for the built-in dsquery command. It will display in the application window the results of the query. This tool is free but it will require you to be familiar with the technical names of the AD attributes you wish to query.

Corporate Directory is Active Directory phone book software that can be useful if you wish to perform an Active Directory Query based on user contact organizational attributes such as names, phone numbers, email, title, department manager and other. This tool provides a “Google Like” search box in which you can type any value and you will get a list of users and contact matching the search string immediately. Once you have your AD query fine-tuned in the search box you can export the results to a CSV file.

AD Info is not a free tool. It costs only 59$ for a single license and its way worth the money. This is a very useful Active Directory Query tool that has more than 190 built in reports. You may not know what you are looking for until you go over the great reports built-in in this tool. This tool will allow you to save reports directly in Excel format and it has a very user friendly custom query designer. Take a look at the following image to see how simple it is to create custom AD queries:

create custom AD queries

As a Windows system administrator you must be familiar with the Active Directory users and Computers interface. This interface will allow you to save queries. These saved AD Queries has great power and will save you lots of work hours. Here is a great site that has a useful collection of saved Active Directory queries. Just download the file at the bottom of the page and import the files into your ADUC.