In this article, we’ll answer frequently asked questions about how to manage your Active Directory Lockout policy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to customizing these settings as organizations have different risk levels. For helpful information about what causes frequent Active Directory account lockouts, check out our blog “6 Common Causes of Active Directory Account Lockouts and How to Fix Them.”

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Table of Contents:

How to view policy using Server Manager

How to view policy using Command Line or Powershell

How to view policy using Windows Search

What do Active Directory Settings Mean

How to check if an Active Directory account is locked using Event Viewer

How to check if an Active Directory account is locked using PowerShell

How to Change the Number of Tries Before Active Directory Lockout

How to Set Account Lockout Duration

Where to Find Active Directory Lockout Policy

Active Directory lockout policies are controlled in the “Group Policy Management” settings. You can view and edit the policies by several methods: Server Manager, Windows Command Line / Powershell, and Windows Search.

1. View Policy Using Server Manager

Navigate to Server Manager on the Domain Controller > Tools > Group Policy Management

Where to Find Active Directory Lockout Policy 1

Under Forest > Domain > Your domain.local > Default Domain Policy > Right-Click > Edit

Find group policy manager

In the Default Domain Policy Management Editor Console click on Computer Configuration dropdown > Policies > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Account policies > Account Lockout Policy

Find Account Lockout Policy in group policy manager

By default, Windows does not set a threshold value.

2. View Policy Using Command Line or Powershell

Open and Elevated Windows Command Prompt or Windows Powershell and type the command:

net accounts
command line screenshot
powershell screenshot

Entering “group policy”  into windows search will bring up the Group Policy Management Editor Console directly.

windows group policy screenshot

What Do Active Directory Lockout Policy Settings Mean

Active Directory Policy Screenshot

Minimum Password age: The minimum number of days a user must keep a password before they can change it.

Maximum Password age: The number of days before the user would need to change the password after the system requests to do so.

Maximum Password length: The number of characters in the password.

Length of password history maintained. 

Lockout threshold: The maximum number of failed log-in attempts before an Active Directory account is locked out.

Lockout duration: The length of time that an Active Directory account will remain locked without being manually reset.

Lockout observation window: The amount of time Active Directory looks for the lockout threshold. This resets after every observation window.

How to Check if an Active Directory Account is Locked

Unlocking a user account requires action from an administrator – often becoming a time consuming and inconvenient daily task. There are multiple different reasons for Active Directory Lockouts to happen, from an individual user forgetting their password to malicious activity by a hacker. You can view current AD lockouts using Event Viewer and Powershell.

1. Viewing AD lockouts using Event Viewer 

Navigate to the Domain Controller and search Event Viewer in windows search

event viewer application search in Windows

Click on Windows Logs > Security

event viewer screenshot

Click on Filter Current Log. In the Filter Current Log Window in the Event ID Section, type: 

event 4740 filter current log

You should see all the lockout events.

Click on any event to view more details such as the computer name and the username.

event 4740 security log details

2. Viewing AD lockouts using PowerShell

You can use the Search-ADAccount Powershell cmdlet to find information about the locked-out accounts.

Open an elevated Windows PowerShell and type the command:

Search-ADAccount -LockedOut

Viewing AD lockouts using PowerShell

This command will retrieve all the locked-out accounts.

To view all locked out accounts:

Search-ADAccount -LockedOut | Select-Object -Property Name, LockedOut
checking account lockout status in PowerShell

How to Change the Number of Tries Before Active Directory Lockout

Windows security baselines recommend configuring a threshold of 10 failed log-in attempts. A higher threshold can prevent accidental account lockouts and reduce the demand on IT staff to manually unlock accounts. However, a lower threshold is more secure. You can change the number of attempts before a lockout using Command Line or Powershell.

Open Powershell or Command Prompt and type the following command, where n is the number of attempts:

net accounts  /lockoutthreshold:n
how to set the number of tries before Active Directory lockout

How to Change Active Directory Account Lockout Duration

Open Powershell or Command Prompt and type the following command, where n is the number of minutes:

net accounts  /lockoutduration:n

(Note: if you put 0, this will lockout the user till the administrator can manually release)

how to set Active Directory account lockout duration