This can be found under:

Central Administration -> Application Management -> Manage service applications ->User profile service application.

Our requirement is to sync the AD user data into SharePoint user profiles. And this should be scheduled to be done at regular intervals.

I did some research and this article specifies that we can either use:-

SharePoint Profile Synchronization (user profile sync service needs to be started)


SharePoint Active Directory Import (user profile sync service need not be started).

MSDN define for the 2 are:

SharePoint Profile Synchronization: To use the full-featured SharePoint Profile Synchronization option, select 'Use SharePoint Profile Synchronization'.


SharePoint Active Directory Import: To use the light-weight Active Directory Import option (with some limitations - see documentation), select 'Use SharePoint Active Directory Import'.

How do you decide which one to select? Is the 2nd option sufficient for my requirement?

1 Answer 1


It depend upon your requirement. If you don't want write back to Active Directory just import from AD then SharePoint AD Import if your Option. you will get these Key benifits with ti.

  • no requirement to deploy the UPS service instance, no “stuck on starting”
  • it runs in the UP service instance
  • it’s wicked fast in comparison to the FIM approach
  • you can leverage old skool LDAP filters to constrain the objects being imported by default an incremental import will run every five minutes
  • no Farm Account in the local admins shenanigans
  • you don’t have to worry about an esoteric configuration option with the mystical name NetBiosDomainNames
  • get up and running quickly and easily, especially to enable key “social” scenarios in SharePoint 2013.

But For all Other requirements..User Profile Sync is your option.


  • Hi Waqas, can we then sync this details at regular intervals? (like timer job)
    – variable
    Mar 22, 2014 at 5:54
  • yes its a sync timer job and you can manage the schedule.If you check the Harbar's blog, it will walk through configuration of AD Import.
    – Waqas Sarwar MVP
    Mar 22, 2014 at 6:00
  • Also I read that "mapping to system SharePoint properties is not supported" in this mode? What is the meaning of this? imagefast.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/…
    – variable
    Mar 22, 2014 at 6:00
  • There are some other limitations of the AD Import mode. We cannot map AD attributes to “system” SharePoint Profile properties. These are the guys whose name begins with the SPS- prefix. We also cannot map two different attributes to the same profile property. We cannot do cross string type mappings (a value string attribute to a multi value string property or vice versa).
    – Waqas Sarwar MVP
    Mar 22, 2014 at 6:09
  • What is meaning of --> "We cannot map AD attributes to “system” SharePoint Profile properties. "?
    – variable
    Mar 22, 2014 at 6:13

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