Global Catalog

What Does Global Catalog Mean?

A global catalog is a distributed data storage that is stored in domain controllers (also known as global catalog servers) and is used for faster searching. It provides a searchable catalog of all objects in every domain in a multi-domain Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). A global catalog provides a partial representation of the objects and is distributed using multi-master replication.

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Techopedia Explains Global Catalog

A global catalog is a multi-domain catalog that allows for faster searching of objects without the need for a domain name. It helps in locating an object from any domain by using its partial, read-only replica stored in a domain controller. As it uses only partial information and a set of attributes that are most commonly used for searching, the objects from all domains, even in a large forest, can be represented by a single database of a global catalog server.

A global catalog is created and maintained by the AD DS replication system. The predefined attributes that are copied into a global catalog are known as the Partial Attribute Set (PAS). Users are allowed to add or delete the attributes stored in a global catalog and thus change the database schema.

Some of the common global catalog usage scenarios are as follows:

  • Forest-wide searches
  • User logon
  • Universal group membership caching
  • Exchange address book lookups
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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.