Understanding ADAM data and data stores

Applies To: Windows Server 2003 R2

Data and data stores

Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM) stores directory data in a hierarchical, file-based directory store. By default, the directory store for a given ADAM instance is located in the following:

%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft ADAM\instancename\data\adamntds.dit

Each ADAM instance has a separate directory store. Any data operation that you perform in ADAM, including searches, reads, imports, exports, indexing, replication, backups, and restores, uses the ADAM directory store in some way. The directory store is organized into logical directory partitions, also called naming contexts.


Like Active Directory, Active Directory Application Mode uses the Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) to manage its directory store.

Directory partitions

The ADAM directory store is organized into logical directory partitions, or naming contexts. Three different types of directory partitions exist: configuration, schema, and application. Each ADAM directory store must contain a single configuration directory partition and a single schema directory partition, and it can contain zero or more application directory partitions. The following table summarizes these partition types, their contents, and ADAM requirements.

Partition type Distinguished name Required/optional Contents




ADAM configuration information




Class and attribute definitions


Assigned during partition creation


Application data

Configuration directory partition

The configuration directory partition holds information about ADAM replication scheduling and replica sets, information that defines the other partitions in the replication set, information about the users and groups in the replica set, and other information.

Schema directory partition

The schema directory partition holds the definitions for the type of data that can be held by the directory store. The ADAM directory service relies on the definitions in the schema partition for maintaining data consistency. In addition, applications can refer to the schema partition to determine the type of data that the ADAM instance allows. You can extend the schema to allow ADAM to hold data that is specific to a particular application. For more information about ADAM schemas, see Understanding ADAM schema.


A common configuration partition and a common schema partition are replicated to ADAM service instances that belong to the same configuration set. For more information about replication, see Understanding ADAM replication and configuration sets.

Application directory partitions

Application directory partitions hold the data that is used by your applications. You can create an application partition during ADAM setup or at any time after installation. Depending on your application, you might extend the schema manually or your application might automatically extend the schema for you. Typically, you manage data in a given application directory partition through your application. After the application directory partition is created, ADAM holds the application partition reference objects in CN=Partitions,CN=Configuration.