Using CSVDE and LDIFDE to Create User Accounts

Creating user accounts in Active Directory is simply enough, seeing as a wizard walks you through the process. Simply right-click in Active Directory User and Computers, choose New – User, and you’re off to the races. The wizard only sets up basic account properties, such as names, logon names, passwords, and so forth. To get at the majority of the settings (such as group membership, home directory info, etc), you must access the properties of the user after creating it. In smaller environments, creating all user accounts one at a time may be reasonable. In larger environments, you might create a template account, and then copy that account (and common settings) in order to more quickly create new accounts. However, you should also be aware that Windows 2000 includes 2 utilities that exist for the purpose of bulk-import of user accounts and associated properties:

Csvde: This tool does bulk import to AD of comma-separated source files. Note that Csvde can only be used to import accounts – it cannot be used to delete or change information. The file used in a simply text file, with values separated by commas. The first line of the file defines the structure. For example, if I wanted to create a .csv text file to be imported that would import 2 user accounts, it might look like the one below:

dn, displayname, objectClass, sAMAccountName, userPrincipalName, telephoneNumber
“cn=dan dinicolo, cn=users, dc=2000trainers, dc=com”, Dan DiNicolo, user, dinicolo,, 416-555-5555
“cn=john doe, cn=users, dc=2000trainers, dc=com”, John Doe, user, doe,, 416-555-5556

Note that basically any user settings can be imported, as long as the file is structured correctly and the attribute names are properly defined. For a list of available attributes, click here.

Ldifde: this tool does bulk-import to AD using LDIF, the LDAP Interchange Format. It can be used to add, delete, or modify objects in Active Directory. LDIF files use a line-separated format, meaning that each attribute has its own line, and records are separated by a blank line. For example, if I wanted to create the users from the previous example using ldifde, I would create a text file with the entries shown below:

Dn: cn= dan dinicolo, cn=users, dc=win2000trainer, dc=com
DisplayName: Dan DiNicolo
ObjectClass: user
SAMAccountName: dinicolo
TelephoneNumber: 416-555-5555

Dn: cn= jown doe, cn=users, dc=2000trainers, dc=com
DisplayName: John Doe
ObjectClass: user
SAMAccountName: doe
TelephoneNumber: 416-555-5556

Note that all accounts created with these utilities are disabled by default, and that you cannot include passwords in the bulk-import process (they are left blank be default).
Of course, after user accounts have been created, a number of common management tasks may need to be performed. Note that while many of these involve setting up information relating to a particular user (phone numbers, addresses, etc), some have father-reaching implications in terms of security. Note that the most important account settings are found on the Account tab in the properties of a user account. It is from here that you can require that a user change their password at next logon, disable an account, set logon hour restrictions, account expiry, account lockout, and so forth.

Note that passwords are reset in Windows 2000 by right clicking on an account and choosing the Reset Password option. In big environments (especially ones with many OUs) you may have trouble remembering where you created an account. To quickly find the user (or other objects), right click the domain name and choose Find in Active Directory Users and Computers.

A couple of additional notes on user accounts:

Remember that an account can be renamed, without affecting the resources that the account has access to. As such, if Bob quits and Mark replaces him, simply rename the Bob’s account (and change the personal information obviously) and Mary will be a have access to everything that Bob previously did.

Deleting an account is a big deal. When you delete an account, the SID associated with the account is also deleted. As such, if you were to recreate an account with the same username, it would not have access to whatever the original account has been granted access to, since the SID would be different. Note that a deleted account can be restored using an authoritative restore (discussed later in the series).

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.