Quick installation guide

This article outlines the steps required when installing Microsoft Defender for Identity sensors on Active Directory, Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS), or Active Directory Certification Services (AD CS) servers. For more detailed instructions, see Deploy Microsoft Defender for Identity with Microsoft Defender XDR.

Watch the following video for a step-by-step demo and to learn about:

  • The importance of installing Defender for Identity sensors to protect your organization against identity-based attacks
  • Downloading and installing the sensor
  • Finding potential sensor and configuration health issues
  • Viewing identity-related posture assessments in Microsoft Secure Score


This section lists the prerequisites required before installing the Defender for Identity sensor, including:

  • Licensing
  • Permissions
  • System requirements
  • Recommendations for best practices

Each Defender for Identity workspace supports a multiple Active Directory forest boundary and Forest Functional Level (FFL) of Windows 2003 and above.

Licensing requirements

Make sure that you have one of the following licenses:

  • Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 (EMS E5/A5)
  • Microsoft 365 E5 (Microsoft E5/A5/G5)
  • Microsoft 365 E5/A5/G5/F5* Security
  • Microsoft 365 F5 Security + Compliance*
  • A standalone Defender for Identity license

* Both F5 licenses require Microsoft 365 F1/F3 or Office 365 F3 and Enterprise Mobility + Security E3.

Acquire licenses directly via the Microsoft 365 portal or use the Cloud Solution Partner (CSP) licensing model.

For more information, see Licensing and privacy FAQs.

Required permissions

To create your Defender for Identity workspace, you need a Microsoft Entra ID tenant with at least one Security administrator.

You need at least Security administrator access on your tenant to access the Identity section of the Microsoft Defender XDR Settings area and create the workspace.

For more information, see Microsoft Defender for Identity role groups.

Minimum system requirements

This section describes the operating systems supported for Defender for Identity sensor installations. Installing a Defender for Identity sensor requires a minimum of 2 cores, 6 GB of RAM, and 6 GB of disk space installed on your domain controller.

When running as a virtual machine, all memory is required to be allocated to the virtual machine at all times. For more information, see Plan capacity for Microsoft Defender for Identity deployment.

Defender for Identity sensors can be installed on the following operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2019. Requires KB4487044 or a newer cumulative update. Sensors installed on Server 2019 without this update will be automatically stopped if the ntdsai.dll file version found in the system directory is older than 10.0.17763.316
  • Windows Server 2022

For all operating systems:

  • Both servers with desktop experience and server cores are supported.
  • Nano servers are not supported.
  • Installations are supported for domain controllers, AD FS, and AD CS servers.

Check network connectivity

Verify that the servers you intend to install Defender for Identity sensors on can reach the Defender for Identity cloud service. From each server, try accessing: https://*your-workspace-name*sensorapi.atp.azure.com.

Schedule a maintenance window (optional)

During installation, if .NET Framework 4.7 or later isn't installed, the .NET Framework 4.7 will be installed and might require a reboot of the server. A reboot might also be required if there's a restart already pending.

When installing your sensors, consider scheduling a maintenance window for your domain controllers.

Install Defender for Identity

This procedure describes how to install the Defender for Identity sensor on a Windows server version 2016 or higher. Make sure that your server has the minimum system requirements.


Defender for Identity sensors should be installed on all domain controllers, including read-only domain controllers (RODC). If you're installing on an AD FS / AD CS farm or cluster, we recommend installing the sensor on each AD FS / AD CS server.

To download and install the sensor:

  1. Download the Defender for Identity sensor from the Microsoft Defender portal. Select Settings -> Identities -> Sensors -> Add sensor and copy the Access key value, which you'll need for the installation.


    You only need to download the installer once, as it can be used for every server in the tenant. Make sure that no pop-up blocker is blocking the download.

  2. From the domain controller, run the installer you'd downloaded from Microsoft Defender XDR and follow the instructions on the screen.

Next step

For full installation instructions with additional details, see Deploy Microsoft Defender for Identity with Microsoft Defender XDR. For example, to deploy on multiple domain controllers, we recommend using the silent installation instead.