How Bad Password Count Works If Account Lockout Policy Is Enforced.


The Account lockout section of the Account Policy dialog box specifies how Windows NT Server handles user accounts after several successive unsuccessful logon attempts have occurred. When Account lockout is selected, users are locked out after the specified number of successive bad attempts is reached. Each domain controller (DC) maintains the number of BadPasswordCount for every user account. The rest of this article explains how DCs maintain and correlate the Account Lockout Policy.

More Information

To demonstrate the relationship between the Account Lockout and BadPasswordCount, this article assumes that there is a single domain with one backup domain controller (BDC).

Domain : Mydomain
PDC : PDCserver
BDC : BDCserver
Account: test1
Account lockout: 6 (After six attempts with a bad password, test1 account must be locked out).

  1. To make sure logon attempt is authenticated by BDC, enter test1 account with an incorrect password from BDC locally once.
  2. From the primary domain controller (PDC), type the following to monitor BadPasswordCount:

    Nltest /user:test1 /server:BDCServer

    Nltest /user:test1 /server:PDCServer

    You will see the same BadPasswordCount. In this case, both are 0x1.
  3. From the BDC, type the incorrect password six more times. Run the following commands on the PDC:

    Nltest /user:test1 /server:BDCServer

    Nltest /user:test1 /server:PDCServer

    Both output show 0x6 as a BadPasswordCount. The test1 account is locked out.
  4. Open User Manager for Domain and unlock test1 account. As soon as this account is unlocked

    Nltest /user:test1 /server:PDCServer
    BadPasswordCount on PDC is 0x0.

    Nltest /user:test1 /server:BDCServer

    BadPasswordCount on BDC is 0x6.

    After test1 account is unlocked, it resets BadPasswordCount on PDC to 0x0. But Badpaswordcount on BDC is still 0x6 until the domain synchronization happens. Before the domain synchronization happens, if test1 user enters the incorrect password from the BDC(BDCServer), logon attempt increments the BadPasswordCount. But test1 account is not locked out. Because BadPasswordcount was 0x0 on PDC. It has been incremented to 0x1 on the PDC. After domain synchronization happens, BadPasswordCount on BDC is equal to the number on PDC, which will be 0x0.
  5. If test1 user enters the correct password from the BDC, it resets BadPasswordCount to 0x0 on the PDC, not on the BDC, until the domain synchronization happens.
  6. Account Lockout policy checks the PDC's BadPasswordCount. It does not use the BadPasswordCount value on the BDC. In the above case, even if another bad password attempt happens to BDC after BadPasswordCount exceeds the threshold on the BDC, the BDC does not request an urgent Account Lockout replication to PDC.


NLTEST is a part of the Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit utilities.