Tag Archives: SIDHistory

The lowdown on SIDHistory

Sup’ PSHomies,

SIDHistory is one of those Active Directory attributes you love to hate. When migrating from one domain to another, it let’s you retain access to resources in the Source Domain. This is a great way to transition, but in my experience it also makes for quick-shift migrations.

The first thing I do whenever we start a migration is have a look at SIDHistory. This will let me know quickly what we’re dealing with:

  • Has there been a previous migration? (I’ve seen objects in excess of 5 entries)
  • Did they clean up? (Obviously they didn’t or I wouldn’t see any entries)
  • Do I need to worry about Token-bloat?

Remember the blog I did about SDDL? Well SDDL deals with access based on SIDs. When a user logs on to the system, not only the new SID, but also the old SID is retrieved from the SIDHistory attribute and is added to the user’s access token and used to determine the user’s group memberships. The SIDs of the groups of which the user is a member through either the new SID or the old SID are then also added to the access token, together with any SIDHistory those groups might have.

This is also the reason tokenbloat can be an issue if it isn’t cleaned up after a migration.

So how do you find out about SIDHistory?

On the subject of removing SIDHistory

This is tricky. Having and keeping SIDHistory intact will keep many a pesky helpdesk calls at bay… But is it wise to keep it?

From a Data (Read NTFS) perspective, you’ll need to Re-Acl your data structure. If you’ve kept you NTFS ACLs (Access Control List) nice and tidy (Wait, gimme a second to catch my breath from laughing) then you’re golden! This has never been the case in all my migrations  so far. My advice when it comes to Re-Acl, is to recreate the data structure (empty) and assign the correct ACEs (Access Control Entry) to the ACLs. Maybe I need to explain what Re-acl a bit more…

Re-ACL is the process of translating SIDs on Resources. I first came across the term using Quest Migration tools. This gave me the option to:

  • add the target SID to a resource
  • replace source SID on said resource
  • remove source SID from resource if everything is working

Here are the things you need to consider for each option

Adding the targetSID to a Resource

This gives the AD Object  access without having to rely on SIDHistory. This means that once the target SID has been added you can safely clean up SIDHistory. A target SID can only be added if a valid source SID has been found. I’ve seen too many ACLs with unknown ACEs in migrations I did over the years. This does nothing to clean up those unknown ACEs. Adding a target SID will expand you ACLs, which can have an impact on processing time

Replacing the sourceSID on a Resource

This makes for a cleaner ACL. Again, this does nothing for unknown ACEs. Replacing adds the targetSID and removes the sourceSID in the same process. A bold move, reverting SIDHistory isn’t as easy a writing to other AD object attributes and for good reason.

Remove sourceSID from Resource once everything has been verified to be working

Most are quite content that everything is working and don’t bother with this. Again, if your structure is up to date, this shouldn’t be an issue. What I’ll usually hear is: “We’ll create a new structure later on and get that cleaned up…” This rarely happens…

To wrap up

SIDHistory is a great way to retain access to source Resources, just make cleanup a part of the migration (If possible).This will vastly improve tokensize and improve your security

Re-Acl only makes sense if you’re content with your current NTFS data structure. If not, then I’d suggest redefining your Data structure. It’s a chore but well worth it.

Hope it’s worth something to you…



SDDL gives more NTFS insight

I’ve been doing migrations, oh say for the past 10 years (Hmmm, that’s long if I do say so myself) Data Migrations can be complex depending what needs to be achieved. I remember using ScriptLogic to map drives depending on which subnet a user was on, that was way before DFS was available… Good times…

I’ve had my share of headaches when it comes to Data migrations. The biggest challenge is interoperability, when Target Resources keeps on using Source Resources until all Source Resources have been migrated. Sometimes it’s just not possible to migrate all Source Resources at once (what we affectionately call ‘big bang’). If data is being mutated by different departments/projects that aren’t migrated at the same time then interoperability is your only choice… Still tricky though…

Ok so here’s the scenario: Migrate Resources from one AD Forest to another (with a trust in place). I’ll take you through the Data part 🙂

The key component is to use SIDHistory. SIDHistory will help resolve whether you have access or not to a Source Resource. My favorite replication tool has to be robocopy! It wasn’t love at first sight, but once I figured out all the parameters, then there isn’t much you can’t accomplish with it!

For interoperability we usually redirect Target Resources to the Source. This way Data mutation can still be achieved without disturbing Production. In the mean time data is being synced to the Target Domain with ACLs intact! Why? We’ll get to that later… Or might as well get into it now… 🙂

Ok so ACL (Access Control List) is that list you get when you open up a file or folder security tab. The accounts are referred to as ACE (Access Control Entry). That’s where you’d grant/remove an account read/write/full/etc access to said file or folder. When using SIDHistory you’re token access will resolve correctly, but here’s where it gets tricky

I’ve copied Data with robocopy keeping security intact. When I opened a folder security tab I noticed the Target account name being displayed. That threw me off because I didn’t reacl the target resource yet.

Quick sidestep ReACL is a term I came across using Quest Active Directory Manager (now DELL). ReACL can be done by adding the Target Account (doubling the amount of ACEs) or doing a cleanup by first adding the Target account and removing the Source Account. You can also rollback if needed but that one is tricky, especially if SIDHistory has more than one entry.

But you wouldn’t know that by looking at the folder Security tab.

If you really want to find out who has access, SDDL will let you know. SDDL uses an object SID to grant or deny access. Thing is SDDL is hard to read hence the Security tab. So the first time I ReACLed a folder adding the Target Account I saw that the ACEs did double, but I only saw the Target Account. I expected to see SOURCE\ACCOUNT;TARGET\ACCOUNT instead I was seeing the TARGET\ACOUNT twice. Here’s where looking at SDDL will give you more insight… Suffice to say we’ll be doing this the PowerShell way… Oh come on! don’t act so surprised! 😛

So first let’s get the ACL of the folder you want to inspect (try this on your folder):

$acl = get-acl '\\\g$\GRP\DATA\DEPT-001-XYZ'

To find out who has access  type $acl.Access. This will give you a list of all ACEs in the ACL. This is the list you’d also see in Explorer security tab (advance mind you, I noticed that). Now for the fun part $acl.sddl… Tada!!!



Seems complicated, well yes it is, still it’s worth figuring out… Have a look at MSDN for more information.

The tell tale is the Domain SID, every Account begins with it. Looking at the Domain SID tells you who actually has access (or not) to said resource and which Domain that account belongs to.

The Domain SID for the current domain I’m inspecting is:
DomainSID : S-1-5-21-602145358-1453371165-789345543
You can get the Domain SID using Get-ADDomain cmdlet… 😉

I picked an ACE from the $acl.access list:

FileSystemRights : Modify, Synchronize
AccessControlType : Allow
IdentityReference : SOURCE\DEPT-001-XYZ-RXWR
IsInherited : False
InheritanceFlags : ContainerInherit, ObjectInherit
PropagationFlags : None

Let’s get some AD properties from this acount

Get-ADGroup -Identity DEPT-001-XYZ-RXWR -Server source.nl -Properties SID,SIDHistory
SamAccountName : DEPT-001-XYZ-RXWR
SID : S-1-5-21-602145358-1453371165-789345543-35829
SIDHistory : S-1-5-21-103234515-1370883554-928726630-4307

Here’s the sddl string once more:


This group has access using SIDHistory!!!

Ok now what? Well in an ideal situation the data would have been ReACLed using the current SID instead of the SIDHistory. The reason for that is to cleanup your SIDHistory to avoid tokenbloat. Here’s an excellent blog by the dirteam discussing the perils of tokenbloat.

This only scratched the surface of what you could investigate! There aren’t many tools (Free) that can help. Ashley Mcglone has an excellent series on the matter definitely worth reading.

I’m currently doing a Data migration (surprise!) so I’ll be adding more tips/tricks/gotchas as the Data migration progresses so stay tuned!

Hope this will steer you in the right direction when it comes to figuring out who has access…
The rabbit hole goes deep…