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Published on May 13, 2012
This video looks at the different group types available in Active Directory. These include Local, Domain Local, Global, and Universal. The video also covers membership requirements which can be used in each of the different groups and converting between different groups. Finally, this video looks at distribution vs security groups.
Distribution Group Any group in Active Directory can be created as either a distribution group or a security group. Distribution groups do not have a SID (Security Identifier) associated with them. For this reason distribution groups can't be used for security. That is, a distribution group cannot be used to assign permissions to files or objects. Distribution groups are mainly used with e-mail programs like Exchange to send e-mails to groups of people. Since there is no SID associated with the group, when you make a user a member of a distribution group, this does not affect the size of the security token for that user. A security token is created when the user logs in and contains their SID and any SID's for any security groups of which they are a member.
Security Group A security group has a SID and thus can be used for assigning permissions to files or objects. A security group can also be used as a distribution group in e-mail software like Exchange. Thus, the difference between a security group and a distribution group is simply that a security group is security enabled whereas a distribution group is not. If you are not sure which group to create, create a security group since it can do everything a distribution group can do and can also be used in security related operations.
Local Group Local groups exist only on the computer on which they were created. A local group can have as a member any user or computer account as well as any other type of valid group.
Domain Local Group Domain Local groups can only be used in the domain in which they were created. A Domain Local group allows membership from any other group as well as any user or computer. Domain Local groups from other domains cannot be used as members because they are limited in their use outside of the domain in which they were created. Universal groups can only be used as members when the Universal group exists in the same forest as the Domain Local group.
Global Group Global groups have the most restrictive membership requirements, only allowing users, computers, and other Global groups from the same domain to be used as members. However, Global groups can be used as members of any other group, including other forest and external domains. This means a Global group has the most restrictive membership requirements of all the groups but is the most flexible when being used as members of other groups.
Universal Group The Universal group is replicated via the global catalog server. For this reason, it is available to any domain in the forest but not to other forests or external domains. Since the Universal group is available forest wide, it does not allow Domain Local groups to be members even when the Universal group has been created in the same domain as the Domain Local group.
Summary of Groups' Membership 1) Users and computers can go into any group in any domain and any forest or external domain if the group supports it. 2) Local and Domain Local groups allow the same membership requirements. 3) Universal, Domain Local and Local groups have the least strict membership requirements allowing any valid group with appropriate scope to be a member. 4) Global groups can contain only users, computers and other Global groups from the same domain only. 5) Global groups can be used everywhere, any domain, forest or external domain. 6) Universal groups are available only in the same forest since they are replicated using the global catalog. Since they are forest wide, Domain Local groups can't be members since the Domain Local scope is limited to the domain in which they were created.