Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)
Lesson 10

ntds and sysvol

By Sai Kurada
September 13, 2023
NTDS (NT Directory Services):

NTDS, or NT Directory Services, is a crucial component of Active Directory (AD) in Windows operating systems. It is responsible for storing and managing the directory database that contains information about objects (such as users, computers, groups, etc.) within an AD domain. The NTDS database is stored in a file named ntds.dit.

Key points about NTDS:

Schema and Configuration Information:
  • The NTDS database contains two main partitions: the Schema partition, which defines the structure and attributes of objects, and the Configuration partition, which stores configuration information for the entire forest.
  • NTDS ensures that changes made to the directory database are replicated to all domain controllers within the domain. This helps maintain consistency across the network.
Transactional Database:
  • The NTDS database is a transactional database, meaning that changes are logged and can be rolled back in case of errors.
Security Information:
  • NTDS contains security information, including SIDs (Security Identifiers) for objects. These are used for authentication and authorization.
Single Master Operations (FSMO) Roles:
  • Some of the FSMO roles (like RID Master, PDC Emulator, etc.) are responsible for managing specific aspects of the NTDS database.

SYSVOL (System Volume):

SYSVOL is a shared folder that stores critical components for a Windows domain. It plays a vital role in the replication of Group Policy objects (GPOs) and logon scripts. It contains elements such as Group Policy templates, logon scripts, and other essential files.

Key points about SYSVOL:

Group Policy Objects (GPOs):
  • SYSVOL is used to distribute Group Policy information to domain-joined computers. This includes policies for user and computer configurations.
Logon Scripts:
  • SYSVOL also hosts logon scripts that are executed when users log in to their computers. These scripts can perform tasks like mapping network drives, launching applications, etc.
File Replication Service (FRS) or Distributed File System Replication (DFSR):
  • In older versions of Windows, FRS was used to replicate SYSVOL. In more recent versions, DFSR has become the preferred method due to its enhanced capabilities.
Domain Controllers and SYSVOL:
  • Every domain controller in an Active Directory environment hosts a copy of SYSVOL. This ensures that Group Policy settings and logon scripts are consistent across the network.
DFS Namespace:
  • SYSVOL can be integrated with DFS Namespace, providing a more scalable and fault-tolerant solution for larger environments.
Replication with DFSR:
  • In environments using DFSR for SYSVOL replication, it provides advantages like more efficient replication, improved conflict resolution, and better support for larger files.


NTDS is responsible for managing the directory database, including object information, while SYSVOL plays a crucial role in distributing Group Policy information and logon scripts across the domain. Together, they form critical components of an Active Directory environment.