What is Lingering objects

A lingering object is a deleted AD object that re-appears (โ€œlingersโ€) on the restored domain controller (DC) in its local copy of Active Directory. This can happen if, after the backup was made, the object was deleted on another DC more than than 180 days ago or after tombstone period expired .

When a DC deletes an object it replaces the object with a tombstone object. The tombstone object is a placeholder that represents the deleted object. When replication occurs, the tombstone object is transmitted to the other DCs, which causes them to delete the AD object as well.

Tombstone objects are kept for 180 days, after which they are garbage-collected and removed.

If a DC is restored from a backup that contains an object deleted elsewhere, the object will re-appear on the restored DC. Because the tombstone object on the other DCs has been removed, the restored DC will not receive the tombstone object (via replication), and so it will never be notified of the deletion. The deleted object will โ€œlingerโ€ in the restored local copy of Active Directory.

The presence of lingering objects indicates that at least one DC was not able to replicate changes to other DCs for longer than the tombstone lifetime of the AD forest.this value specifies the length of time that a deleted object will remain in Active Directory before being permanently removed. When the disconnected DC is again able to communicate with another DC in the domain, the two DCs will attempt to replicate changes that have occurred in the meantime. Any objects that have been deleted from one DC but still exist on the other are lingering objects.

When Active Directory detects the presence of a lingering object, NTDS Replication event 1388 or 1988 will be logged in the Directory Service event log of the DC that detects it. 

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