What is Active Directory and What Does it Do?

Active Directory is a software application, which runs on a computer (server) called Domain Controller, and the purpose of Active Directory is to store objects like computers, users and their details.

In a networked computer environment, Active Directory application is used so that user authentication can be done, user security profiles are maintained and executed. Without Active Directory, users will log on to their computers locally and their use of the computer can not be controlled. Yes, it is possible to define security permissions on each computer locally but it is not possible to do so when there are a large number people in an organization, or they sit scattered in different areas or cities.

Active Directory is a central computer to which all the workstations connect when users log on to their computer. In a networked computer environment, when a user logs on to his computer, he is not logged on locally on his own computer but he is logged on the Domain Controller, using Active Directory. His user-profile also exists on the Domain Controller and his personal folders like 'Documents', 'Recycle Bin' etc also exists on the Domain Controller. And as per the Active Directory, the logged on user gets the permissions such as whether he can create new files, delete files, open web browser or not, which printer, scanners he can access, etc.

A network administrator is responsible for maintaining the Active Directory to creating users, giving/revoking different rights to the users, etc. as needed, using the Active Directory application.

More Roles of Active Directory

In addition to authentication and maintaining user security profile, Active Directory has some other roles, too, including:

  • Creation and maintenance of mail boxes and address books
  • Provision of a file network share directory
  • Configuration of network devices
  • Provision and configuration of Firewall services.
If you were seeking information on "definition of Active Directory" or "what is Active Directory", hope this article explained that well to you.

Also read: What is a Domain Controller and What Does it Do?