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Garbage Collection in Active Directory

By Nirmal Sharma
Posted On Mar 29,2008
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Category: Directive Service
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Garbage Collection in Active Directory

This article gives users a short explanation on Garbage Collection Process used by Windows Active Directory.


This article explains about the garbage collection process used by Active Directory to clear out orphaned objects from Active Directory Database file (ntds.dit).

Windows 2000/2003 Servers delete all tombstone objects after 60 days after their original status. Active Directory sets isDeleted attribute to TRUE after the 60 days automatically or when you delete an object manually. This is because a tombstone object should be replicated to all domain controllers in the domain (The domain partition). Otherwise objects will be re-created in Active Directory.
You can also change the default time.
If you want to change the default time you can modify the tombstonelifetime setting under cd=DirectoryServices,cn=WindowsNT,cn=Services,cn=Configuration,dc=DomainName parameter which Microsoft does not recommend.

Each directory partition holds a container called Deleted Object except Schema partition because you can not delete objects from this partition. After deleting an object or setting isDeleted attribute to TRUE Active Directory moves these records to Deleted Object container in the partition that contained the object.
Active Directory hides these Deleted Objects containers by default, so to view them you must enable the Return Deleted ObjectsLightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) control as part of a search operation.


You can search Tombstone objects using LDP found in Windows 2000 and Windows 2003.


Please note, a 2003 Forest created with SP1 will have 180 days as a tombstone life time.


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