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security and distribution groups?, Local- Global- Universal Groups

 In Microsoft Active Directory, what are security and distribution groups?

In Microsoft Active Directory, when you create a new group, you must select a group type. The two group types, security and distribution, are described below:
  • Security: Security groups allow you to manage user and computer access to shared resources. You can also control who receives group policy settings. This simplifies administration by allowing you to set permissions once on multiple computers, then to change the membership of the group as your needs change. The change in group membership automatically takes effect everywhere. You can also use these groups as email distribution lists.
  • Distribution: Distribution groups are intended to be used solely as email distribution lists. These lists are for use with email applications such as Microsoft Exchange or Outlook. You can add and remove contacts from the list so that they will or will not receive email sent to the distribution group. You can't use distribution groups to assign permissions on any objects, and you can't use them to filter group policy settings.



Distribution Groups -- Used for email. Useful for programs such as MS Exchange.

Security Groups - Used to secure file/folders, printers, etc.

Local - Stored on the local SAM ( Local Computers )
Domain Local - Stored on Domain Controllers.
Global Groups - Gives you a greater group scope.
Universal - Gives you an even broader group scope.

Windows 2000 Mixed can contain:

Domain Local -- At the same time they can contain Accounts ( Any user/computer account ), and global groups. Access to the same domain.
Global groups - They can contain Accounts ( user/computer accounts ). Access to Any domain
Universal - N/A not applicable at this DFL. Access to any domain

Windows 2000 Native or Windows 2003 DFL can contain:

Domain Local - Accounts ( users/computers ), Domain local Groups ( same domain ) , global groups, and universal groups.

Global Groups - Accounts ( users/computers from the same domain ), Global groups ( same domain )

Universal Groups - Accounts ( users/computers ), Global Groups, and Universal Groups.

Group Conversion

Domain Local - You can convert it to Universal ( A Domain Local group must already contain a Domain Local group in order for the conversion to take place )
Global Group - You can convert it to Universal ( A Global group must already contain a Global group in order for the conversion to take place )
Universal Group - You can convert it to either Domain Local, or Global Group.

Group Nesting

Same Domain

Start By adding Users to Global Groups. At the same global groups can be nested within Domain Local Groups, and Univerisal groups.

Global Groups can also be nested within Global Groups in the same domain.

Cross-Domain Group nesting

Global Groups can be nested within Domain Local groups, or within another Universal Group in the other domain.

Global Groups cannot be nested across domains. You cannot take a Global Group from proprofs.local, and nest it within another global group in

You cannot take a user/computer account from one domain, and nest it within a global group in another domain.

Global Groups can be used to grant access to files/folders ( NTFS Permissions) in the same domain, and in a different domain as well.

Domain Local groups can accept anything, except for Domain Local groups from another domain. It accepts user accounts from the same domain, and a different domain as well. A global/universal group from the same domain/different domain can also be nested within a Domain Local group.

Resources - Domain Local Groups can only access resources on the domain on which it resides. For example a domain Local group Named HelpDesk on the proprofs.local domain can only access resources on that domain, and not on

Universal Groups - Accept user/computer accounts from the same domain, and a different domain as well. A global group can also be nested within a Universal Group ( from the same/different domain(s) )

Note: You cannot take a Domain Local Group, and nest it within a Universal Group ( from the same/different domain(s) )

A Universal Group can be nested within another Universal Group in the same domain, and in different domains as well. They can also be nested within Domain Local Groups in the same domain, and in different domains as well. Universal Groups can never be a member of Universal Groups.

Resources - It can be used to access resources ( NTFS Permissions ) on the same domain, and in different domains as well.

One benefit of Universal Groups is that they list its members on the Global Catalog. Whenever a change was made to a Universal Group, it updates the membership of all its members in the Global Catalog, causing a lot of unnecessary traffic between GCs ( windows 2000 )

Windows 2003 solves the aforementioned problem by updating the membership of only the affected member. In other words, it does not replicate all the accounts in the Universal group, only the one you made changes to. ( Note: This new feature is only available if the Domain Functional Level ( DFL ) is on Windows 2003 )

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Good Luck! 


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