Using the Replication Monitor

Thursday Dec 21st 2000 by Brien M. Posey

Part 2 in our series on Keeping Active Directory Healthy: Windows 2000s Replication Monitor, replication topology, and the Replication Diagnostic Tool.

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed the fact that every once in a while it's possible for your Active Directory to develop inconsistencies or various other problems. If these problems are replicated to other domain controllers, then a minor problem can quickly turn into a major one. Fortunately, Windows 2000 provides many different tools that you can use to detect and correct a wide variety of Active Directory problems. In this article, I'll continue my discussion of these tools.

Replication Monitor

As you may recall, in Part 1 I began discussing the Active Directory Replication Monitor. As I mentioned, this tool is designed to provide administrators with a way of making sure that domain controllers are replicating Active Directory information correctly.

The Active Directory Replication Monitor is relatively easy to use. When you open the tool, you'll usually see a blank screen divided into two columns, titled Monitored Servers and Log. Because the screen is blank, the first thing you must do is to establish which server or servers you want to monitor. To do so, select the Add Monitored Server command from the Edit menu. When you do, you'll see a screen that gives you a choice of either entering the name of the server you want to monitor or searching a specific domain for a server to monitor. Whichever method you choose to use, select your server. You'll see a summary of its basic Active Directory information in the Monitored Servers column, and the Log column will begin to fill in. You can see an example in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The Active Directory Replication Monitor can be used to test whether replication is working on a given server.

Now that you know how to look at a specific server, let's review the operation of this tool. As you've no doubt figured out, when you're looking at a server's replication status, you're building a log file. You can use the Save Monitored List As and Open Log commands from the File menu to save a log file and to view the log at a later time. The File menu also offers you the ability to run replication-related scripts.

Most of this tool's functionality is found on the Action menu. If you open the Action menu, you'll probably find that most of the menu items are unavailable. This is the case because the available menu items depend on which object you've selected in the tree under the Monitored Servers column. Each command found on the Action menu reveals a submenu. Some of these submenus are smallfor example, the only command found on the Domain menu is Search Domain Controller For Replication Errors. However, other menus, such as the Server menu, are large.

The Server menu allows you to perform a wide variety of replication-related tasks. For example, you can check the replication topology or synchronize the directory partition with all of the servers that are involved in the replication process. The Server menu also lets you view a vast amount of information by simply selecting various menu commands. For example, you can show things such as the group policy object status or the current performance data. You can see the Server menu in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The Server menu contains commands that allow you to view a wealth of information about your servers.

The other submenus of the Action menu aren't as involved as the Server menu. For example, the Site menu simply lets you monitor another server. Likewise, the Naming Context menu only contains options to show change notifications to replication partners and to synchronize the directory partition with replication partners.

As you can see, the Active Directory Replication Monitor is simple to use. However, in spite of the tool's simplicity, it provides a wealth of information and can be invaluable in troubleshooting Active Directory replication problems.

Creating a Replication Topology
The Replication Diagnostic Tool can also be used to establish a replication topology. However, you should never create your own replication topology unless you have a good reason for doing so and know exactly what you're doing, because creating a custom replication topology interferes with the replication topology that Windows creates automatically. Under normal circumstances, the Knowledge Consistency Checker automatically manages the replication topology. Incorrectly using this tool interferes with Windows' built-in ability to manage replication and can even cause replication to stop completely. This article discusses this tool from a diagnostic standpoint.

Replication Diagnostic Tool

The Replication Diagnostic Tool is a command-line tool that can be used to spot replication problems such as an offline server or a LAN or WAN link that's unavailable. The name of the executable file is REPADMIN.EXE. As you can see in Figure 3, this tool can be a little complicated to use. Although this figure outlines the Replication Diagnostic Tool's syntax, I'll explain how to safely use this tool for diagnostic purposes in Part 3.

Figure 3: The Replication Diagnostic Tool.



So far in this series, I've explored several tools that you can use to keep Active Directory healthy, including the Active Directory Administration Tool, the Active Directory Replication Monitor, and the Replication Diagnostic Tool. However, these tools are just the beginningmany others are available. I'll continue discussing the Replication Diagnostic Tool and the additional available tools in Part 3. //

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance writer. His past experience includes working as the director of information systems for a national chain of health care facilities and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. Because of the extremely high volume of e-mail that Brien receives, it's impossible for him to respond to every message, although he does read them all.

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