How to get more Infrastructure Masters in your domain?

Usually we have one Infrastructure Master in the domain who’s responsible to maintain references to objects in other domains – such as users which are members of a group in a different domain – to make sure if the target-object (user) is being renamed, moved or otherwise his distinguishedname has changed it can still be found. He is doing this by creating phantoms (small objects which contain only distinguishedname, SID and GUID).

Actually, making it more complicated but accurate – those group memberships are not maintained by referencing the data directly (a group in the database does not contain the data of it’s members) but by referencing objects by the database-row (like an ID, called DistinguishedNameTag or DNT). So if we add a user to a group, there is a link-table in the database where there will be a new entry with the forward link referencing the DNT or the user and the backward-link referencing the DNT of the group. So the phantoms are also needed that there is a database-row for the target object, otherwise there wouldn’t be a DNT to reference as target.

The second role of the infrastructure master is to be a single machine in the domain, only for the purpose that we need to run an operation against the domain and make sure to hit a specific DC – and always the same if we run it multiple times, the infrastructure is used (e.g. for domainprep, rodcprep,..).

The second role is the reason why we have one IM per application partition, see my post “How many Infrastructure Masters do you have” about it.

So talking about reference update, the primary reason for the IM, this is also the reason why an infrastructure master cannot run on a global catalog – because it is using the GC (who knows about the objects in other domains anyways) to validate his local data against the data of the GC. For more about GCs vs. IM see “Global Catalog vs. Infrastructure Master

But how do we get more Infrastructure Master (for reference update) in the domain?


When you are running all DCs on Windows Server 2008 R2, turn on recycle bin. There you go. This will enable running an reference update task on every DC which is not a GC.

The reason behind this? When the recycle bin is enabled, the objects we knew before as tombstones are now deleted objects with all data maintained. We are able to restore these. Therefore we need to maintain reference updates for deleted objects as well, and those changes on deleted objects are not replicated to other DCs. Additionally we need to maintain links – links who point to or from deleted objects need to be “marked” as deactivated, so that it is possible to activate them when the object is restored.

Actually I will cover the recycle bin among a lot of useful information at TEC – if you are there come to my session:

A DS Geek’s Notes from the Field – Active Directory Recovery Unveiled
Speaker: Ulf Simon-Weidner

You’ve got R2 and enabled Recycle-Bin, so no other actions are necessary to prepare for an AD-Recovery? Or you haven’t yet deployed R2 (or switched to the forest-level)? Are you aware that even with today’s possibilities are not prepared for every scenario? You have to blend in certain features. You also have to manage them and adjust your processes accordingly! This session will give you an insight into experiences and practices from a field perspective about what can go wrong, what should you do to manage and look after AD in a proactive way. In this session, you’ll hear experiences from the field about Active Directory Disaster-prevention and recovery among interesting thoughts, scripts and scenarios. Think beyond and get inspired. This session will distinguish you from the Admins who keep their CV updated in case anything goes wrong to the ones who are prepared instead.

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