Naming Contexts and Directory Partitions

Each domain controller in a domain forest controlled by Active Directory Domain Services includes directory partitions. Directory partitions are also known as naming contexts. A directory partition is a contiguous portion of the overall directory that has independent replication scope and scheduling data. By default, the Active Directory Domain Service for an enterprise contains the following partitions:

  • Schema Partition: The schema partition contains the classSchema and attributeSchema objects that define the types of objects that can exist in the forest. Every domain controller in the forest has a replica of the same schema partition.
  • Configuration Partition: The configuration partition contains replication topology and other configuration data that must be replicated throughout the forest. Every domain controller in the forest has a replica of the same configuration partition.
  • Domain Partition: The domain partition contains the directory objects, such as users and computers, associated with the local domain. A domain can have multiple domain controllers and a forest can have multiple domains. Each domain controller stores a full replica of the domain partition for its local domain, but does not store replicas of the domain partitions for other domains.

Windows Server 2003 introduces the Application Directory Partition, which provides the ability to control the scope of replication and allow the placement of replicas in a manner more suitable for dynamic data. For more information about application directory partitions, see About Application Directory Partitions.

For more information about how Active Directory Domain Services maintain consistency between the various replicas of a directory partition, see Replication and Data Integrity.