Understanding Active Directory sites in Windows 2000 Server

Active Directory sites play a role in the structure of the domains on your Windows 2000 Server. Learn about sites and the role they play in order to better understand Active Directory structure and design. Jim Boyce tells us more.

If you have only dealt with the more mundane aspects of Active Directory in Windows 2000 Server, such as user management, you might not be familiar with the concept of sites. Understanding sites and the role they play will help you better understand Active Directory structure and design.

An Active Directory site is one or more well-connected (highly reliable and fast) TCP/IP subnets that map the physical structure of your organization's domains. Sites are published in the Active Directory and facilitate authentication and replication. When a user logs on, the logon mechanism searches for domain controllers in the user's own site to localize network traffic and speed up the authentication process.

For replication, Active Directory replicates across sites. However, replication occurs more frequently within a site than between sites (limiting replication in this way reduces cross-site network traffic). You control the site link configuration, specifying cost, when the link is available, and other properties. These properties determine how replication occurs across the link, which allows you to control replication traffic.

Although it is possible to set up a distributed domain structure without sites, using sites adds a level of organization and efficiency to the domain structure. The improvements in bandwidth utilization, traffic localization, and replication make sites well worth the trouble of setting up.

To learn more about sites, see the Help documentation in the Active Directory Sites and Services console.

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