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This may qualify as another Stupid Question from someone fairly inexperienced in Active Directory, but I've noticed a handy "Description" field for computers in the Active Directory Users and Computers management console. This is especially handy since our policy for computer names is basically "XY-12", rendering them unintelligible unless you've memorized all the PC numbers (I have a hard time remembering my own two computers, to heck with the rest of them). I can't change this naming policy either, due to some silly licensing of software.

So, I figured I'd solve this by typing useful descriptions into the Description field in AD Users & Computers - stuff like "Conference Room", "Reception", "Bob's 2014 Laptop", etc. However... I cannot find anywhere to view this information in regular Windows (all machines are joined to the domain, of course).

XP machines display a comment that is typed in on the System control panel (Computer Name tab, "computer description" field) that is unrelated to the AD description. Everything newer (I checked 7 SP1 and 8.1, anyway) only gives me "Name", "Category", "Workgroup", "Network Location", "Discovery Method", "MAC Address", and "IP Address" in the network browser. That old Description is gone.

FWIW I am running Server 2008 R2 with the domain at its maximum functional level, and workstations vary from XP to 8.1 as I've already stated. Getting rid of the XP systems from daily use is on my to-do list, but they still need to be dragged out of the closet every now and then for old (terrible) engineering software.

Can anything be done about this or do we just have to keep going "uhh, which computer number are you again?"

It also occurs to me the Active Directory search tool is in there somewhere but it's pretty clunky to get open and you can't just have it show everything by default. You have to open it, tell it you want to search computers, tell it to search everyone, hit search, maximize the window, blah blah. Asking is probably quicker at this point for everyone but the tech-savvy.

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3 Answers 3

This is something that is only in AD, it does not get "pushed" to the member computers. So the end-users won't see it unless they open ADUC or some other AD query tool, as you point out.

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It looks like you want an easy way to find which user is logged into what machine so that when they call into helpdesk, you don't have to ask for their computer name.

One easy solution is to create a login script (pushed out by GPO) which contains the following:

ifconfig /all >> \\server\share$\%username%.txt

Share$ needs to have write and modify permissions for everyone as the script is run as the logged in account. The script dumps computer name, IP, and every interface into a nice text file. You can go to the folder, search for the login name, and get the info you want.

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A few approaches that come to my mind:

  1. Query your domain controllers for connections from $user, and look at the source IP field for those connections (should be in the detailed view of one of the events for the connection or authentication).

  2. Deployment of a tool like BGinfo that will display the relevant information in a place the user can easily locate.

  3. Running a script to copy the description in Active Directory to the local description.

  4. Just asking the user. It's not an elegant solution, but it's easy, and a lot of places still do it for that very reason - it's easier (and cheaper) to ask the user than to implement a system to eliminate the need to ask.

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