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

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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