How To Run Manual DirSync / Azure Active Directory Sync Updates

Depending upon the version of the sync solution that you are using to replicate directory data from on-premises Active Directory to Office 365 there are different commands that you will need to use.

We can see a listing of the DirSync versions on the TechNet wiki.   And for AAD Sync, the version listings are on MSDN.  Though this has now been superseded with another article which has version information on AAD Sync and AAD Connect.

The terms Full Sync and Delta Sync are not unique to the Microsoft tools noted here.  A Full Sync will do just that, synchronize all of the objects regardless if already synchronized.  This will take a significant amount of time in a large tenant. A Full Sync will occur when the directory synchronization tool is first installed, as this is required to get all of the objects that are in scope of synchronization into Azure Active Directory.  Once the objects are up there, only changes typically need to be sent and this is where the Delta Sync comes in.  A Delta Sync will only replicate the changes since the previous sync so it is quicker and overall more efficient.

Update February 2016:  Note that this post has been updated to address changes with the latest version of the Directory Synchronization tool.  Please refer to the specific version that you have installed for the correct command.

Update 30-5-2016:  As noted on Upgrade Windows Azure Active Directory Sync (“DirSync”) and Azure Active Directory Sync (“Azure AD Sync”) -- Azure AD Connect is the best way to connect your on-premises directory with Azure AD and Office 365. You should be planning to upgrade to the current build of Azure AD Connect from Windows Azure Active Directory Sync (DirSync) or Azure AD Sync as these tools are now deprecated and will reach end of support on April 13, 2017.

Update 21-4-2017:  Support has now ended for DirSync and Azure AD Sync and Azure AD Connect 1.0.  Customers must be on Azure AD Connect 1.1.*  - this means that only the top method should be used.

Azure AD Connect (AAD Connect) February 2016 Build ( Onwards

In February 2016 build of Azure AD Connect was released which introduced multiple new features.  The scheduler is now built into the sync engine.  This means that there is no longer a separate DirectorySyncClientCmd tool.

To initiate a Delta Sync, open Windows PowerShell and run:

Start-ADSyncSyncCycle -PolicyType Delta

 To initiate a Full Sync, open Windows PowerShell and run:

Start-ADSyncSyncCycle -PolicyType Initial

Pierre added a comment indicating that if the commands are not visible, try to load up the PowerShell module:

Import-Module "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure AD Sync\Bin\ADSync\ADSync.psd1"


Please see this post for details.

Azure AD Connect (AAD Connect) December 2015 Build (1.0.9131.0) and Older

June 2015 saw the release of Azure AD Connect which is the successor to Azure AD Sync.  As of the time of writing, the latest version of AAD Connect is 1.0.8667.0.  That will change over time, so please check out the version information on AAD Sync and AAD Connect

As with AAD Sync the tool is located in:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure AD Sync\Bin

To perform a manual update, use the DirectorySyncClientCmd.exe tool.  The Delta and Initial parameters specify the relevant task.

Azure AD Connect Perform Manual Sync

The below screenshot was taken from build 1.0.9131.0 of Azure AD Connect.

Azure AD Connect Perform Manual Sy


Azure Active Directory Sync Services (AAD Sync)

In September 2014 the Microsoft Azure AD Sync tool was released.  This changed how manual sync requests are issued.

To perform a manual update we now use the DirectorySyncClientCmd.exe tool.  The Delta and Initial parameters are added to the command to specify the relevant task.

This tool is located in:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure AD Sync\Bin


The steps to migrate from DirSync to AAD Sync are listed here.


Windows Azure Active Directory Sync -  June 2014 Build 6862 Onwards

With build 6862 the PowerShell module has moved.  The location for this module is now:

C:\program Files\Windows Azure Active Directory Sync\DirSync\ImportModules.ps1

To allow us to execute the Start-OnlineCoexistenceSync cmdlet we can either:

  • Open Windows PowerShell and run Import-Module DirSync
  • Open Windows PowerShell, and run the Import-Modules.ps1 file listed above.



Windows Azure Active Directory Sync – April 2014 Builds Older Than 6765

In the older builds of DirSync, we would use the DirSyncConfigShell.psc1 that was located in:

C:\Program Files\Windows Azure Directory Sync


C:\Program Files\Microsoft Online Directory Sync


Update 23-9-2015 – Added notes for Azure AD Connect (AAD Connect)

Update 23-2-2016 – Added changes for Azure AD Connect build 1.1 onwards

Update 7-3-2016 – Added note to Azure AD Connect section



Comments (27)
  1. anonymouscommenter says:

    It just got to easy 🙂

  2. anonymouscommenter says:

    Thank you Rhoderick, always delighted reading your blog

    Just a small typo error in "ImportModules,ps1", please put dot instead of comma

  3. Thanks for catching that Sachin! Updated now.


  4. anonymouscommenter says:

    What about Azure AD Connect?

  5. Funnily enough I was thinking the same thing the other day too….

    Will add a note about that – thanks for the reminder!


  6. anonymouscommenter says:

    Why can’t anyone explain what the difference between Full and Delta sync is?

  7. anonymouscommenter says:

    Andy, Full and Delta are general terms and not specific to these tools. That’s probably why they aren’t explained here. A full sync is just that – syncs everything. A Delta sync only syncs objects that have been modified since the last sync (attributes
    updated, etc..)

  8. Correct Adam- that was indeed the reason why. I have added a quick section at the top to cover that off as others may have the same question.


  9. anonymouscommenter says:

    So, DirSync I heard is no longer provided by Microsoft the way it used to be provided via Active users Steps 1-7..

    has the new way of manually update been posted here? I couldn’t find any of the ones described in this article on my client’s setup he just activated it 2 weeks ago (Jan 18th ’16)

  10. That’s correct you should not be getting the old tool (DirSync) via the portal. Nowadays we all should be deploying AAD Connect.

    The steps for AAD Connect were added to this post previously. Is that not working for you? If so what build do you have deployed?


  11. anonymouscommenter says:

    Thanks for the details. I was used to using Start-OnlineCoexistenceSync, then changed to a new job where I realized the cmdlet was gone; turns out I needed the DirectorSyncClient executable; Now I’m planning an upgrade and will end up back on PowerShell.
    A confusing path through the various versions, but at least this is sorted out and all easy PowerShell in the end.

  12. Is that true, or is it not, that if you type Start-ADSingSingCycle -PolicyType Initial all your users are going to jail?

  13. In a more useful note, if you get an error message telling you that the Start-ADSyncSuncCycle does not exist, and you are with the latest version of AAD Connect, force your PowerShell’s hand a bit with a well deserved: Import-Module "C:Program FilesMicrosoft
    Azure AD SyncBinADSyncADSync.psd1"

  14. Not sure how the Is Start-ADSingSingCycle would function, Does not appear to be any MP3 or WAV files in the AAD Connect folder. Or do we need to sing ourselves into the microphone to record the message?

    I’ll add a note about the Import-Module – what OS was that on Pierre?


  15. John Moe says:

    How does one go about installing the PowerShell module? I can see that the module name is “ADSync”, but I see no way to install it on a client for management. I tried to run AzureADConenct.msi, hoping the management tools would be an option to install separately, but it just told me I have to run that on a server. Surely I don’t *have* to run them from my server?

    1. Apart from the install issue, there is no -Server or -Computername with the module

      You can run locally on the AAD Connect server. Nowadays with the new build it will sync every 30 minutes, so you should have to do this occasionally.


  16. Helped me a lot, thx!

  17. Chad says:

    Any way to sync just 1 user?

    1. Just run the the delta sync. If only one user has been modified, then that is what will sync.


  18. Admin says:

    if i want to run the delta/initial from program files.. the same way that we used to run it in DirSync… since, i know the both way to run the full/delta from powershell and from connectors.. but i want to know any execution file which could help from program files…

    1. There is no executable to initiate the sync in the current versions.

      Please look at the PowerShell method listed above.


  19. Alex Jameson says:

    Typical for Microsoft… instructions don’t work.

    I have “Windows Azure Active Directory Sync”. There is no directory C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure AD Sync nor is there a powershell command Start-ADSyncSyncCycle

    1. Alex you need to use the correct command for the version of the sync tool you have installed. That is why the different build versions are listed here.

      I just installed the latest AAD Connect build yesterday, and C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure AD Sync\Bin\ADSync exists as does the command.


  20. Bob says:

    Honestly why can’t just keep to one method, a single .exe to manually update the AD sync, I know Powershell is their little baby but being in support they just seem to make things confusing to warrant a change in the program. Why exactly do you need 3 different methods to acheive the same goal??? Just ridiculous.

    1. As of last week anything older than Azure AD Connect 1.1.* became unsupported Bob. At this time only the last method is valid.


  21. Sulton Sultonov says:

    Thank you so much Rhoderick for this page!


Comments are closed.

Skip to main content