Active Directory Management Tools

Active Directory management is the practice of overseeing and controlling Active Directory (AD), a Microsoft technology used for managing networks.

It involves tasks like overseeing network resources, safeguarding data, organizing information, setting up and managing user accounts, and implementing security measures.

For enterprises running Windows Server operating systems, Active Directory (AD) management is essential for keeping the network infrastructure secure, efficient, and intact.

Software programs that streamline the management of Active Directory services are known as Active Directory Management Tools.

Alongside the features provided by native Windows Administrative Tools, these add-ons provide IT administrators with the ability to automate common tasks, perform bulk updates, handle access rights and permissions, track and review changes to Active Directory, and ensure policy compliance.

Active Directory (AD) management solutions greatly improve AD administration efficiency and effectiveness by offering a more user-friendly interface and powerful functionalities.

Top 10 Active Directory Management Tools

  1. Microsoft Active Directory Explorer – Advanced AD browsing and searching tool.
  2. SolarWinds Permissions Analyzer for Active Directory – Analyzes and reports on AD permissions.
  3. Netwrix Account Lockout Examiner – Identifies and troubleshoots AD account lockouts.
  4. SolarWinds Access Rights Manager – Manages user permissions and access in AD.
  5. ManageEngine ADAudit Plus – Audits and monitors changes in AD.
  6. Dameware Remote Everywhere (DRE) – Remote support solution with AD management features.
  7. Quest Recovery Manager for Active Directory – AD data recovery and backup solution.
  8. ManageEngine ADManager – Streamlines AD management and reporting.
  9. Adaxes Unified Management for AD – Automates and secures AD management tasks.
  10. LDAP Administrator – Manages and browses LDAP directories, compatible with AD.

Top 10 Active Directory Management Tools Features

Top 10 Active Directory Management ToolsFeaturesStandout FeaturePricing
1. Microsoft Active Directory ExplorerUser access tracking detects unauthorized actions and security risks.
To reduce risks and comply, enforce access policies and roles.
Manages Windows file server file and folder permissions.
Automates user onboarding and offboarding for proper access.
30 Days Free Trail
2. SolarWinds Permissions Analyzer for Active DirectoryDisplay effective user and group object permissions.
Report excessive or inappropriate permissions.
Find object owners and track changes.
Show how AD objects inherit permissions.
Analyze Active Directory user and group permissions.
Free
3. Netwrix Account Lockout ExaminerReal-time account lockout monitoring helps identify triggers.
Lockout timestamps, originating devices, and user activity are provided.
Alerts administrators when users change passwords to prevent lockouts.
Sends account lockout notifications so administrators can act quickly.
Free
4. Solarwinds Access Rights ManagerUser access tracking detects unauthorized actions and security risks.
To reduce risks and comply, enforce access policies and roles.
Manages Windows file server file and folder permissions.
Automates user onboarding and offboarding for proper access.
30 Days Free Trail
5. ManageEngine ADAudit PlusManages Active Directory user accounts, groups, and permissions.
To reduce risks and comply, enforce access policies and roles.
Manages Windows file server file and folder permissions.
Identifies differences between live AD data and backed-up data before recovery.30 Days Free Trail
6. Dameware Remote Everywhere (DRE)AD Users and Groups Management
Remote Active Directory Queries
Active Directory Health Checks
Integration with Other Systems
Comprehensive Auditing and Reporting
14 Days Free Trail
7. Quest Recovery Manager for Active DirectoryAllows quick recovery of deleted or modified Active Directory users, groups, and OUs.
Saving time and effort by recovering multiple objects simultaneously.
Individual object attribute values can be restored.
Reduces data loss by recovering specific attributes or portions of an object.30 Days Free Trail
8. ManageEngine ADManagerManages Active Directory user accounts, groups, and permissions.
Change directory entry user names, email addresses, and phone numbers.
Lockout events are linked to users and computers to identify the problem.
Schedules scripts and actions to automate routine tasks.Free
9. Adaxes Unified Management for ADCleans AD by identifying and managing obsolete objects.
Manages user mailboxes and attributes with Microsoft Exchange.
Customizable rules enforce company policies.
Manages multi-domain and forest AD environments.30 Days Free Trail
10. LDAP AdministratorExplore directory structures to see entries and attributes.
Create, edit, and delete directory user and group entries.
View and manage the directory’s schema, which defines objects and attributes.
Advanced searches can find entries by attributes and values.30 Days Free Trail

1. Microsoft Active Directory Explorer

Microsoft Active Directory Explorer

Pros

  • Advanced search features help find Active Directory items.
  • AD Explorer runs without installation. Direct local or network use is possible.
  • The USB drive makes the tool portable and easy to use on other platforms.

Cons

  • Active Directory novices may find the tool’s sophisticated interface too much.

Microsoft created Microsoft Active Directory Explorer (AD Explorer), an AD management tool that enables administrators to view and manage the Active Directory (AD) database.

The software offers a user-friendly interface for easily navigating the AD database and performing different functions, such as viewing object properties, searching for objects, and managing permissions.

AD Explorer connects to the AD database using the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) protocol.

After establishing a connection, the AD database is displayed in a user-friendly hierarchical tree structure. Each node represents a distinct object in the directory. Administrators can expand each node and access its properties, allowing them to carry out a range of tasks.

This AD management tool allows browsing domains, organizational units, users, groups, computers, etc., in a tree view to see object properties, memberships, permissions, etc.

AD Explorer allows one to search for specific AD objects by different attributes, such as name, email, description, etc.

Search terms can be saved for frequently used searches. It allows resetting user passwords right from the tool. 

It allows administrators to manage permissions for objects within the AD database.

This includes setting permissions for users, groups, and computers and managing access control lists (ACLs) for individual objects.

Additionally, AD Explorer allows administrators to manage the replication of AD data between domain controllers.

This includes viewing replication status, forcing replication, and configuring replication settings.

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • AD Explorer is a self-contained program that doesn’t require installation.
  • AD Explorer operates in a read-only mode, allowing you to view the Active Directory structure and objects for informational purposes. However, it does not provide the capability to make direct changes or modifications.
  • With AD Explorer, you have the option to save the information it displays in various formats, like CSV files. This allows you to conveniently analyze or report on the data at a later time.
  • AD Explorer offers both a user-friendly graphical interface and command-line options for scripting and automation.

2. ManageEngine ADManager

ManageEngine ADManager

Pros

  • Administrators can modify ADManager Plus user account, group membership, and permission analyses.
  • Administrators assign tasks and control access and permissions with role-based access control.
  • Password reset and account unlock are self-service. This eases IT support.
  • ADManager Plus controls Active Directory changes for compliance.

Cons

  • Third-party ADManager Plus is updated and supported by outside companies.
  • With simpler Active Directory needs, the tool’s broad feature set may overwhelm smaller companies.

ManageEngine ADManager is one of the advanced Active Directory Management Tools ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corporation, developed the Active Directory Management tool ADManager using a graphical user interface (GUI). This tool enables administrators to manage and administer Active Directory (AD) objects and user accounts.

ADManager provides many features and capabilities, including user and group management, bulk user import/export, password management, and more.

The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) connects to the AD database.

Once connected, administrators can use the GUI to perform various tasks related to AD management. ADManager provides role-based access control.

It allows the assignment of different roles like Admin, Helpdesk, OU Admin, etc.

to users depending on what they should be able to manage. This helps in delegating AD management tasks.

ADManager provides self-service portals for password reset, user management, group management, etc.

End users can access these portals to reset their passwords without admin intervention.

This AD Management Service keeps track of all changes made to Active Directory objects.

It logs details like who made the change, what was changed, when it was made, etc.

It also allows viewing all historical values of attributes for any AD object.

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • It simplifies creating, editing, deleting, and importing many users. Offers templates for setting up users.
  • It makes it easy to create, change, and delete groups. It also helps with bulk management and distribution groups.
  • It helps manage OUs, such as creating, deleting, and changing them. It also provides an easy way to delegate administrative tasks.
  • Allows GPOs to be created, linked, and changed. It gives GPO management templates and reports.

3. Netwrix Account Lockout Examiner

Netwrix Account Lockout Examiner

Pros

  • Automatically searching and analyzing security event logs to discover and display lockout occurrences saves admins time.
  • It details lockout events, including source, affected user accounts, and causes.
  • Netwrix Account Lockout Examiner alerts administrators of real-time strikes.
  • The tool guides IT professionals through lockout resolution step-by-step.

Cons

  • The tool focuses on account lockout detection and resolution.
  • It works well. However, some businesses need additional Active Directory management and reporting.

Netwrix Account Lockout Examiner is an Active Directory management service that analyzes account lockout events in Active Directory.

It helps investigate the root cause of account lockouts and prevents their recurrence.

It works by scanning Active Directory logs to identify the source of the lockout.

The tool collects data from domain controllers and analyzes it to determine which account is locked out and the reason for the lockout.

This tool collects and analyzes account lockout events from Active Directory, Azure AD, and O365.

It scans the event logs and security logs to gather lockout events and determine the root cause of lockouts. 

The Netwirx identifies lockout trends to detect suspicious activity like brute force attacks.

It monitors the frequency and patterns of account lockouts to spot anomalies.

It generates lockout reports that provide details like when the account was locked out, the source workstation, the caller’s computer name, the date/time of the last wrong password, etc.

These reports help investigate the reasons for lockouts.

Additionally, it helps prevent future lockouts by identifying their source.

For example, if a user enters the wrong password on a new device, the device details are provided in the reports to notify the user. Or if there is an attacker, the source IP and other information can be blocked.

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • Watches for and finds out when a user’s account has been locked out because of too many failed login attempts. This helps administrators find potential security threats or user mistakes.
  • Account lockouts are reported to administrators in real time so they can immediately respond and fix the problem.
  • It provides detailed information about the source of account lockouts, such as the workstation, application, or service that caused them.
  • Logs and checks user activity, such as failed login attempts and locked accounts, to help with security investigations and reporting on compliance.

4. Solarwinds Access Rights Manager

Solarwinds Access Rights Manager

Pros

  • SolarWinds Access Rights Manager verifies access rights changes and activities for security and compliance.
  • Policies automate permissions granting and de-provisioning, eliminating administrative tasks and errors.
  • RBAC allows administrators delegate permissions and obligations to roles and users while maintaining control.
  • Access Rights Manager’s flexible reporting features enable detailed access rights, adjustments, and compliance reports.

Cons

  • It works well with SolarWinds products but may struggle with others.
  • Smaller firms with basic access rights management may not need the tool’s extensive functionality.

SolarWinds Access Rights Manager (ARM) is an Active Directory management service that helps IT administrators manage user access to Active Directory resources. 

The tool provides a centralized platform to manage user access rights, permissions, and roles across multiple domains and forests.

It starts by discovering the resources that must be managed in the Active Directory.

This includes users, groups, computers, and other resources stored in Active Directory. 

ARM uses various methods to discover resources, such as scanning the network, importing data from external sources, or connecting to cloud-based services.

Once the resources have been discovered, ARM analyzes each resource’s access rights and permissions.

This includes identifying who has access to what data, what permissions they have, and what activities they can perform.

ARM provides a centralized platform to manage user access.

This includes creating and managing roles, assigning permissions, and delegating responsibilities to specific users or groups. 

This AD management service also monitors user access activities, allowing administrators to detect unauthorized or suspicious access attempts. 

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • It makes it easier to manage user access by giving you tools to give, take away, or change user permissions across different systems, applications, and resources.
  • Administrators can review user permissions and access rights and audit them to find security holes and compliance problems.
  • Allows the creation and management of roles with specific permissions.
  • This ensures that users can only access resources and perform actions related to their jobs.
  • Offers real-time monitoring of user activity and attempts to access sensitive data and resources.
  • This makes it easier to find and stop unauthorized access.

5. ManageEngine ADAudit Plus

ManageEngine ADAudit Plus

Pros

  • With thorough auditing, ADAudit Plus tracks Active Directory changes and activity.
  • The program monitors crucial events to detect and respond to real-time security incidents.
  • ADAudit Plus details and customizes Active Directory modifications, user activity, permissions, and compliance data.
  • The technology detects suspicious user behavior and security threats.

Cons

  • ADAudit Plus is a commercial product with a price. Pricing depends on user count and edition.
  • The tool’s features and functions may take time to learn for administrators.

ManageEngine ADAudit Plus is an Active Directory auditing and reporting tool.

It enables administrators to track and audit Windows servers and Active Directory changes. 

The first step in using ADAudit Plus is setting it up to gather data from Active Directory and Windows servers.

This includes setting up data sources, such as file servers and domain controllers, to gather user activity logs.

Once the data has been collected, ADAudit Plus analyzes the logs to identify changes and events that may indicate a security threat.

The tool uses machine learning algorithms and behavioral analytics to detect anomalous activity and identify potential security risks.

Administrators receive immediate alerts from ADAudit Plus when it discover suspicious activity, such as failed login attempts, privilege elevations, or alterations to critical objects.

ADAudit Plus offers forensic analysis capabilities, enabling administrators to investigate security incidents and monitor user activity over time. It also helps organizations ensure compliance with laws like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS.

It secures Active Directory by recommending and enforcing best practices, such as strong passwords, limiting excessive account failures, restricting anonymous access, etc.

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • Changes to Active Directory objects and configurations are tracked and audited in real time.
  • This lets you see what users and administrators are doing.
  • It makes detailed reports about many different parts of Active Directory, such as user logins, object changes, group memberships, permissions, and more.
  • Tracks change user accounts, group memberships, permissions, and other attributes, which helps organizations maintain security and compliance.
  • Finds and notifies administrators of vital security events and unusual behavior, such as failed logins, increased privileges, and strange activities.

6. Dameware Remote Everywhere (DRE)

Dameware Remote Everywhere (DRE)

Pros

  • Secure file transmission between local and remote systems simplifies remote file and document exchange.
  • Remote support technicians and end-users can chat live using DRE’s built-in chat.
  • For training and documentation, administrators can record remote support sessions.
  • DRE simplifies remote multi-monitor systems.

Cons

  • DRE work best with consistent internet connections, which can be problematic.
  • New users to remote support systems may need time to learn the interface and functionalities.

Dameware Remote Everywhere (DRE) is a powerful Active Directory management tool that can manage Active Directory and remotely access computers and servers within an organization.

Using a web-based interface, DRE enables administrators to manage AD from a centralized location.

This interface allows administrators to perform various tasks, including adding or removing users, resetting passwords, and managing user permissions.

This allows administrators to troubleshoot issues, install software and updates, and perform other maintenance tasks without physically being on-site.

DRE uses secure connections to ensure data is transmitted safely and securely between the remote and administrator computers. 

The software also supports multi-factor authentication and provides audit logs to ensure that all actions taken by administrators are tracked and recorded.

It also includes a range of reporting features that can monitor system performance and identify potential issues before they become critical.

Administrators can generate reports on system health, user activity, and security events, among other things.

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • It gives IT administrators secure remote access to Windows, macOS, and Linux computers to fix problems and help end users.
  • Helps cross-platform IT management by allowing remote management of computers with different operating systems.
  • IT professionals can access and manage computers from a distance without the end user’s help or presence.
  • During remote support sessions, technicians can share their screens with end users, which makes it easier for people to work together.

7. Quest Recovery Manager for Active Directory

Quest Recovery Manager for Active Directory

Pros

  • It maintains removed items, showing what, when, and by whom.
  • The program restores object properties individually to avoid data overwrite.
  • Automating recovery with Quest Recovery Manager saves time and errors.
  • The system generates thorough recovery activity reports for auditing and compliance.

Cons

  • New Active Directory recovery administrators may need time to master the tool’s interface and procedures.
  • Quest Recovery Manager for Active Directory is commercial.

Quest Recovery Manager for Active Directory (RMAD) is an AD management service designed to recover deleted or lost objects in Active Directory (AD) environments. 

It offers various functions that can help with recovery, such as object-level restore, comparison and rollback of directory changes, and backup and recovery of AD forests and domains.

Quest RMAD provides search functionality that allows administrators to search for objects based on various criteria, such as name, type, and location.

It provides a simple and intuitive interface for restoring the object.

The tool allows administrators to restore individual objects or entire object hierarchies, restoring all related objects together.

In addition to object-level restore, Quest RMAD allows administrators to compare and roll back directory changes.

This can be useful in cases where a change made to the directory has caused an issue and needs to be rolled back.

Additionally, Quest provides backup and recovery functionality for entire AD forests and domains.

It allows administrators to schedule backups and perform full or incremental backups, ensuring that data is protected and can be restored during a disaster.

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • Administrators can get back users, groups, OUs, and other Active Directory objects that have been deleted, changed, or corrupted.
  • Active Directory objects can have their attributes and properties restored, so recovering the whole object is unnecessary.
  • It offers a “Recycle Bin” interface that makes it easy to find deleted objects and their attributes and restore them.
  • Active Directory supports regular backups and snapshots, making it possible to restore the environment to a certain point.

8. SolarWinds Permissions Analyzer for Active Directory

SolarWinds Permissions Analyzer for Active Directory

Pros

  • Administrators can discover security concerns and over-entitlements by analysing Active Directory user and group permissions and access privileges.
  • To debug access difficulties, Permissions Analyzer illustrates how access rights are inherited and mixed.
  • Stakeholder communication of complex access data is simplified via authorization reports and visualizations.
  • It alerts administrators of permissions changes in real time.

Cons

  • It evaluates permissions but doesn’t handle Active Directory.
  • Business-grade SolarWinds Permissions Analyzer costs money.
  • The UI is simple, although new permissions analysts may need help.

SolarWinds Permissions Analyzer is an AD management tool that analyzes user and group permissions in Active Directory.

It provides a comprehensive view of user and group permissions across all AD objects, including users, groups, organizational units (OUs), and group policies.

The tool scans the Active Directory and generates reports showing who can access what resources.

These reports can be customized to show specific permissions, such as read, write, or modify access, and can be filtered by user or group.

It provides a visual representation of permissions.

This lets administrators quickly see who can access specific resources and how those permissions are inherited from parent objects.

It provides the ability to set permissions for multiple objects at once, as well as the ability to create custom reports and automate permission-related tasks.

It detects duplicate permissions granted to users and groups in AD and helps clean up excess permissions.

Additionally, it highlights any permissions that have been granted but never used.

This allows for revoking any unused permissions.

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • Administrators can determine what permissions users and groups have on Active Directory objects. This helps ensure security and compliance.
  • It gives information about the permissions given to each user and the groups they belong to across different Active Directory objects.
  • It makes detailed reports about permissions, which helps administrators find security holes and access control problems.
  • Allows permissions on multiple objects to be compared. This makes it easier to find permissions that don’t match up or follow the rules.

9. Adaxes Unified Management for AD

Adaxes Unified Management for AD

Pros

  • Adaxes streamlines Active Directory tasks, decreasing mistakes.
  • Advanced administrative task delegation and secure user role-based access are possible with RBAC.
  • Without IT help, Adaxes enables users reset passwords, join groups, and update profiles.
  • Custom approval workflows authorize sensitive modifications.

Cons

  • Its various features may take time to master and use.
  • Adaxes Unified Management for Active Directory is commercial.

Adaxes is an automation and Active Directory management tool that simplifies the management of large and complex AD environments.

It provides automation, delegation, and role-based access control (RBAC) to streamline everyday administrative tasks and ensure security and compliance.

The Adaxes solution consists of three main components: the Adaxes service, the Adaxes Administration Console, and the Adaxes Web Interface.

The Adaxes service is the core component of the solution.

It is installed on one or more servers in the AD environment and performs all the management tasks. 

The service provides automation through business rules, which are conditions and actions triggered when specific events occur in the AD environment.

The Adaxes Administration Console is a Windows application administrators use to manage the AD environment.

It provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that simplifies the management of AD objects.

The Adaxes Web Interface is a browser-based interface that allows users to perform self-service tasks such as resetting passwords, updating their contact information, and managing their group memberships.

Adaxes provides a comprehensive role-based access control system that allows administrators to delegate tasks to other users. 

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • Active Directory can be managed through a user-friendly web interface that lets administrators do tasks from anywhere.
  • It gives fine-grained control over administrative permissions and access, ensuring users have the right permissions for their roles.
  • Automates the process of adding, changing, and removing users, which speeds up user lifecycle management tasks.
  • End users can use a self-service portal to change their passwords, unlock their accounts, and update their profiles. This reduces the number of calls to the help desk.

10. LDAP Administrator

LDAP Administrator

Pros

  • LDAP Administrator simplifies directory object creation, modification, and deletion.
  • Its user-friendly interface simplifies difficult LDAP processes for all admins.
  • Advanced searching lets LDAP Administrators find directory objects fast.
  • Users can update LDAP properties and values to customize and manage directory objects.

Cons

  • Costly commercial products like LDAP Administrator.
  • The tool and LDAP principles and terminology are complex, therefore users may require time to master them.

LDAP Administrator is an AD management tool designed to simplify the administration of LDAP directories, including Active Directory.

It provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows administrators to perform everyday administrative tasks.

The LDAP Browser provides a tree view to browse the LDAP directory structure and entries.

It allows you to view attributes and values for each entry.

It supports executing bulk operations like deleting multiple entries, moving entire subtrees, modifying attributes for many entries, etc.

This Active Directory management tool provides an advanced search functionality to locate entries in large directories quickly.

One can filter based on object types, attributes, values, locations, etc.

It can analyze the LDAP schema and generate documentation for all object types, including their mandatory/optional attributes, syntax rules, etc.

It provides options to monitor your LDAP environment, such as showing statistics for entries, attributes, login hours, password ages, etc. Monitors can be configured to send email alerts for issues.

Why Do We Recommend It?

  • Administrators can navigate and explore LDAP directory structures, see objects and their attributes, and navigate between them.
  • It offers tools for creating, editing, and removing directory objects such as users, groups, and organizational units.
  • Allows administrators to change the properties and attributes of directory objects, which makes it easier to maintain data.
  • Multiple LDAP directories and connections can be managed from a single interface.

Active Directory Management Tools That Didn’t Make the List

  1. ADSelfService Plus – Enables user self-service for password resets and information updates in AD.
  2. Directory Opus – Offers a file manager that integrates AD management features for more accessible file permissions and user data handling.
  3. UnitySync – Synchronizes AD objects across multiple directories and platforms for consistent data management.
  4. Specops Password Policy – Enhances AD with granular password policies and security features.
  5. LepideAuditor for Active Directory – Provides detailed auditing and monitoring of AD changes to enhance security and compliance.
  6. AD360 – An integrated solution for comprehensive AD management, including reporting, delegation, and compliance.
  7. JiJi AD Management Suite – Offers tools for efficient AD management, including cleanup, reporting, and delegation.
  8. SysTools Active Directory Recovery – Specializes in recovering corrupted AD databases and restoring deleted objects.
  9. CJWSoft Password Change – Allows users to change their AD passwords through a web portal securely.
  10. GroupID by Imanami – Manages AD groups intelligently, automating group membership and lifecycle across the organization.

Deciding The Best Active Directory Management Tool for Your Needs

As you shop for an Active Directory (AD) management solution, consider your unique requirements in security, audit and compliance, user and group management, and automation.

Tools with scalability, an easy-to-navigate interface, and robust security features should be prioritized. You should also check that they are compatible with your current IT infrastructure.

Evaluate the tool’s price tag against its benefits, such as its capacity to solve problems and increase productivity. Find out what people think by reading reviews and case studies.

Choose vendors with a solid reputation and dependable support. Lastly, before making a final selection, try the product with a sample or demo to see whether it suits your needs.

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