Learning Microsoft’s Active Directory service is a simple process. However, it is quite sensitive and entering the wrong domain name system (DNS) can alter the whole outcome.
There are many paths you can take to master Active Directory. All you need to do is invest enough time and effort into learning this tool.
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Below is an in-depth guide to the best available resources for learning this software. We’ll cover books, online classes, and in-person and free courses, and training so that you can pick the learning methods that best suit your needs.
What Is Active Directory?
Active Directory is a Microsoft directory service that manages computers and other devices operating in a network. It provides different methods for storing directory data and makes that information available to network users and database administrators. The latter can then manage permissions and access for other members of the network.
Active Directory stores data as an object. The data store can be as simple as a single element such as a user, group, or device. It handles how the object interacts with the domain. The Active Directory ad structure features domains, trees, and forests.
Several users accessing a similar database may be grouped into a single domain. A group of domains is referred to as a tree, while a group of trees is called a forest. Each of these levels is then given access to set roles and privileges by the administrator.
What Is Active Directory Used For?
There are a few different services provided by Active Directory, which we’ll look at below.
- Lightweight directory services. This service shares the same role as the application program interface and can be run in multiple places within a server.
- Rights management services. Rights management services allow an administrator to control information rights and management. It involves encrypting sensitive information on a server, such as emails or documents. The global catalog feature within this service allows the domain controller to manage information from the forest.
- LDAP. This is a protocol that provides access and maintains directory services. It is used to store objects such as usernames and passwords.
- Certificate services. This service generates, manages, and distributes secure certificates that enable users to exchange information over the Internet.
- Active directory federation services. This provides a single sign-on to users for authentication on a Web application.
Features of Active Directory
Active Directory Domain Services has several pieces that enable it to function.
- Domain. A domain is a group of objects, such as devices or users, that share a common database.
- Tree. This is a grouping of more than one domain. The domains are gathered in a logical collection of hierarchy, which is called a tree.
- Forest. A forest consists of a group of trees. It includes catalogs, application information, and Windows domain configurations.
- Organizational unit. This unit organizes users and devices. Each domain has its own OU.
- Containers. A container is a data structure that is similar to an organizational unit.
Learning Active Directory
Most students studying tech don’t study Active Directory simply because there is a lack of reliable resources online. However, we have compiled some classes online and offline that you might want to take. Which learning style you choose to learn Active Directory is entirely up to you. You can use books, online classes, or in-person classes to learn more.
Remember to check reviews on the courses you are considering before you enroll.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Active Directory?
The time it takes to get a firm grasp on the system can’t be set definitively. Some people can grasp the processes quickly, while others will take longer to complete self-paced courses and explore the relevant books.
Take your time to get the most out of the courses or books you’re learning from. Make sure the lessons fit with your schedule so that you can study efficiently.
How to Learn Active Directory: Step-by-Step
These steps will help you get the most out of learning Active Directory.
- Install software. There are many different versions of Windows, so you should download the server administrator tool that matches the operating system on your device.
- Watch tutorials. Don’t skip out on the multiple official tutorials available online on Active Directory. There is a lot of useful information in these videos that can help you set up and utilize the program.
- Sign up for classes. The best way to learn anything is with a group of like-minded people. Sign up for a class that will help you learn the platform.
- Read books. The Microsoft team has ensured that there are plenty of books and materials available for reference.
- Practice. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will get with Active Directory’s features.
The Best Active Directory Courses and Training
It is important to learn Active Directory from top quality sources so you can be sure you won’t receive a substandard education. There are a plethora of sites available, but we have conducted in-depth research to provide you with only the best.
Best In-Person Active Directory Classes
Most students prefer enrolling in a physical class so they can get hands-on experience with the software. These classes produce exceptional students, as they are easily able to communicate with the instructor. Students can express their ideas in real-time and get feedback that they can use to improve. Below is a list of the best in-person classes.
Active Directory 2016 for Support Professionals – AP16 Course Outline
- Provider: ONCL
- Cost: $1,095
- Time: 2 days
- Prerequisites: Core network technologies experience
In this class, you will learn how to install, configure domain controllers, manage objects, implement group policy, and manage user settings with group policy objectives.
Identity with Windows Server 2016
- Provider: ONCL
- Cost: $2,795
- Time: 5 days
- Prerequisites: N/A
This course teaches students how to deploy and configure Active Directory domain services. In it, you will learn how to perform backups, restore monitors, and troubleshoot issues with the service.
Best Online Active Directory Courses
Online classes offer students undeniable convenience. It is the best option if you want to save time and money. There is no need to subject yourself to a physical class if you already have a busy schedule.
With online classes, you can choose whether you want to study early in the morning, or late at night. Plus, online classes are now more recommended than ever due to COVID-19. Below are the top online Active Directory courses.
Active Directory & Group Policy Lab
- Provider: Udemy
- Cost: $199.99
- Time: 6.5 hours
- Prerequisites: Domain controller experience
This is an excellent course for beginners, or experts looking to get an update. It will teach you to master Active Directory’s user management, group policy management, domain security, workstations, and how to use Powershell. You will get a certificate at the end of the course.
Install And Configure Active Directory Domain Services In Windows Server 2016
- Provider: Pluralsight
- Cost: $299
- Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
- Prerequisites: Windows Server 2016
In this course, you will learn the five different ways of installing domain controllers, how to create domains and forests, how to use Powershell, and how to create and manage groups. It’s a great course for learning the basics of the program, so it is excellent for beginners looking to get a certification.
Manage And Maintain Active Directory Domain Services In Windows Server 2016
- Provider: Pluralsight
- Cost: $299
- Time: 3 hours 53 minutes
- Prerequisite: Windows Server 2016, Active Directory basics
This class teaches students how to create, configure, and manage service accounts, as well as how to troubleshoot and perform maintenance on Active Directory. After learning how to install and configure Windows Server and Active Directory, you will explore its environment further. If you are a premium Pluralsight member, you will receive a certificate at the end of the course.
Active Directory On Windows Server 2016
- Provider: Udemy
- Cost: $199
- Time: 5 hours
- Prerequisite: Understanding of Window-based networks
This class for students of all levels will teach you how to deploy domain controllers, understand organizational units, manage groups, and plan and migrate Active Directory. This certificate course will explain in detail all the important aspects of the program. It’s also a good way to prepare for the Microsoft exam 70-742.
Best Free Active Directory Courses
There are many free courses for students who want to get ahead in their Active Directory knowledge. The list below features some free courses on the topic.
Active Directory Administration
- Provider: PluralSight
- Cost: Free
- Time: Self-paced
- Prerequisite: Basics of Active Directory and Windows Server
In this class for all levels, you will learn how to manage and maintain Active Directory Domain Services, and you will receive an Active Directory certificate.
Managing Microsoft Windows Server Active Directory Domain Services
- Provider: Microsoft
- Cost: Free
- Time: 10 weeks
- Prerequisite: N/A
Windows Server administrators must know everything about Active Directory, as it contains information on all of an organization’s users and resources. This course features videos, assessments, and discussion templates for students.
Microsoft also offers a different version of this course in conjunction with massive open online course provider EdX that allows you to study at your own pace without an instructor.
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Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Management
- Provider: Pluralsight
- Cost: Free
- Time: 6 weeks
- Prerequisite: N/A
In this course, you will learn how to create domain infrastructure, as well as how to backup and restore systems with Active Directory. It’s a great option if you already have intermediate experience working with the platform.
Best Active Directory Books
There are no rules when it comes to studying a new concept, so if reading books is your thing, we have you covered. Many Microsoft specialists have compiled relevant information and techniques on Active Directory in book form. These books will give you further guidance on how to use the system.
Azure Active Directory Reports and Monitoring: Project Implementation Techniques Added
This is an excellent text for students learning how to create reports, monitor Active Directory, and explore the platform’s new techniques. Unizarden has done a fantastic job of compiling information that will answer all of your questions.
Azure Active Directory Authentication Overview: Authentication Fundamentals: The Basics
This book covers the basics of Active Directory and delves deeper into more complex uses of the platform. It’s a good resource for beginners and experts who want to learn more about how to use Azure in conjunction with Active Directory.
Essentials of Active Directory: Top 100 Real-Life Project Scenarios and Tips
This is a great guide for learners of all levels who want to expand their knowledge of Active Directory fundamentals. In it, you will learn about the basic principles of the service. It also includes examples of real challenges that administrators have faced and overcome with troubleshooting techniques.
Quick Configuration of Openldap and Kerberos In Linux and Authenticating Linux to Active Directory
This book gives you easy steps to configuring the Openldap server and Kerberos server. You will also learn how to authenticate Linux Machines with Active Directory. This is a short, 20-page guide for anyone who wants to use Active Directory with Linux.
Best Online Active Directory Resources
There are many resources online that can help you perfect your use of Active Directory. Below are a few you should consider checking out.
Active Directory Pro
This site contains a list of tools and tutorials that will help you learn how to configure Active Directory. The tools will help you manage the system using report creation, bulk updates, and by exporting user accounts and creating bulk accounts. You can download all of these tools for free.
A Step-by-Step Tutorial-Active Directory
Comparitech is a definitive guide on Active Directory, including all of its uses and benefits. It will also teach you how to install the service on different editions of Windows.
Learn the Basics of Active Directory
Get familiar with the fundamentals of Active Directory through this tutorial by Jeff Melnick on the Netwrix blog.
Basic Active Directory environment
This tutorial will teach you how to create a virtual machine, install Active Directory prerequisites, create an Active Directory Windows Server, or become a global administrator in Azure Active Directory.
Should You Study Active Directory?
Active Directory is becoming an increasingly important skill as more companies seek to organize their domains. Businesses are seeking a centralized, secure resource with simplified locations and easy logins.
Businesses are willing to invest heavily to make sure that they are not at risk of security breaches, which means they are looking for skilled IT managers who are up to the task.
Learning Active Directory may be a great way to boost your current career or future job prospects in some of the top tech careers. As Microsoft Windows is the most common operating system in use today, your chances of landing a job after studying this software are good.
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