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Active Directory Replication Time Intervals

It seems there are always many questions as to when Active Directory replicates various pieces of the infrastructure.  I have put together a quick summary post below of most of the important areas of Active Directory Replication and when these components are replicated.  Hopefully, this will give a clear and concise view of replication in Active Directory.

adrepl1Image courtesy of Microsoft Technet

Intrasite Replication: 

  • When a directory change is made, the source DC waits 15 seconds before it sends the update notification to closest replication partner
  • If there is more than one replication partner, the changes go out in 3 second increments to the subsequent replication partners
  • After receiving notification of the change, the partner domain controller sends a directory update request to the source domain controllers.  The source DC responds with a replication operation.  The 3 second skew prevents overloading the source DC from replication partners if there are many.
  • There are of course exceptions to the 15 second time frame where this doesn’t apply and replication occurs immediately. This is known as urgent replication, this immediate replication applies to critical directory updates.  The include account lockouts and changes in the account lockout policy, the domain password policy, or the password on a domain controller account or user passwords.
Windows 2000 (Yes it is still out there) 
  • Default delay with Windows 2000 DCs for intrasite replication is 5 minutes
Intersite Replication 
  • By default intersite replication occurs between each site every 180 minutes or 3 hours
  • The lowest interval that intersite replication can be adjusted to is 15 minutes 
Group Policy replication interval 
  • Changes to Group Policy settings might not be immediately available as they have to replicate to the appropriate domain controller.
  • Clients have a 90-minute refresh period (randomized by up to approximately 30 minutes)
  • Components of GPO are stored in both AD and on the Sysvol folder of domain controllers.
  • You can manually trigger a GPO refresh with the gpupdate command with XP and up, or with secedit with Windows 2000 environments
  • SYSVOL replication is state based meaning replication happens as soon as anything changes in the SYSVOL folders  Replication pre Windows 2008 is taken care of via the File Replication Service (FRS) and then starting with Windows 2008 domain functional level you can use DFS technology to replicate SYSVOL information.
DNS Replication Active Directory 
  • If DNS zones are AD integrated it is updated using AD replication.  Any new DNS record that is created in AD integrated zone is replicated immediately with AD intra-site replication.
  • The DNS record will not appear immediately however even though the AD database is up to date.
  • The DNS server does not query the AD database directly but every 180 seconds it reloads the zone from the latest AD database values.
  • You can check your dwDsPollingInterval attribute by using the command dnscmd /info
  • Force DNS polling – use the command dnscmd /zoneupdatefromds yourzonenamehere

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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