The global catalog is a distributed data repository that contains a searchable, partial representation of every object in every domain in a multidomain Active Directory forest. The global catalog is stored on domain controllers that have been designated as global catalog servers and is distributed through multimaster replication. Searches that are directed to the global catalog are faster because they do not involve referrals to different domain controllers.
In addition to configuration and schema directory partition replicas, every domain controller in a Windows 2000 Server or Windows Server 2003 forest stores a full, writable replica of a single domain directory partition. Therefore, a domain controller can locate only the objects in its domain. Locating an object in a different domain would require the user or application to provide the domain of the requested object.
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