If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.


Last Logon Time

I have discovered a fascinating little gobbet of truth about the Active Directory 2003 records of the time users last logged on. The summary is this:

  • The Last Logon attribute tells us nothing useful. It's the time the user last logged on to the domain controller the query was run on. So if you run the query on a DC that doesn't do much authentication, you'll wonder why no-one has been logging on lately. Ignore this attribute unless you are gathering records from all DCs and selecting the latest...
  • The Last Logon Timstamp is different. It's the time the user last logged on to any DC in the domain. Aha! Problem solved? Sort of -- because the attribute is replicated across the domain, you'll get the same answer, give or take replication time, regardless of the DC you query. The only little fly in the ointment, leaching dark fluids and tainted chitinaceous fragments into the smooth white emulsion, is that replication time. It's not a minute. Or an hour or a day or a week. It's a fortnight.

So the proper interpretation of this field is something like this:

  • Blank: If the user has ever logged on, they must have done it in the last 14 days. Or perhaps they never have.
  • Date: The user definitely logged on on that date, and may have logged on any time up to 14 days after.
In practical terms, that means your script purging not-used-lately or totally-unused accounts can't delete an account on the basis of a blank Last Logon Timstamp. If you want to delete accounts that have never been logged on, you'll have to find another way.

No comments: