What is Active Directory Tombstone Lifetime (TSL) ?
The tombstone lifetime in an Active Directory forest determines how long a deleted object (called a “tombstone”) is retained in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). The tombstone lifetime is determined by the value of the tombstoneLifetime attribute on the Directory Service object in the configuration directory partition.
Directory Services veteran and MVP Joe Richards has published a short blog entry demystifying the confusion a technet article has caused in regards to how to go about figuring a TSL on a particular domain. Note that new forests that are installed with Windows Server 2003 with SP1 and up have a default tombstone lifetime of 180 days.
Joe shares his ADFIND tool to lookup the current value of the TSL attribute (irrespective of what OS was used to build the forest). Note that as Joe pointed out if this attribute is not set (i.e empty value) then the TSL is 60 days. Here I show you how to lookup the TSL with PowerShell.
Using Quest cmdlets :
Get-QADbject “CN=Directory Service,CN=Windows NT,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=yourdomain,DC=int” includeallproperties | Select TombstoneLifetime
And with using native AD cmdlets (of ADWS) in Windows Server 2008 R2 :
Get-ADObject -Identity “CN=Directory Service,CN=Windows NT,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=R2,DC=lab” -properties tombstonelifetime
Also within PowerShell, you can also use ADSI to lookup the TSL value.
[ADSI]$config=LDAP://cn=Directory Service,cn=Windows NT,cn=Services,cn=Configuration,DC=R2,dc=lab
Also, here is how you can use DSQUERY from the Windows Support Tools to lookup the TSL.
dsquery * “CN=Directory Service,CN=Windows NT,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=R2,DC=lab” -scope base –attr
Note that I have used my test forest’s DN of R2.lab in above examples, be sure to replace the values with your forest’s DN. Above query should be typed in one line.