How to Import and Export Users in Entra ID (formerly Azure AD): Native vs Third-Party Backup Solutions

How to Import and Export Users in Entra ID (formerly Azure AD): Native vs Third-Party Backup Solutions

September 7, 2023

For enterprise teams using Microsoft 365, Azure AD is the single component that controls access to all of your business data and applications.

Knowingly or not, your team uses Azure Active Directory to log into all Microsoft applications and storage systems, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, SharePoint Online, Exchange, Intune, and Power BI.

If you lose control of your Azure AD user accounts, you won't be able to access any of these applications or the data they contain. You'll essentially be locked out of your business' entire digital infrastructure, with no way of recovering it.

That's why you need to have a proper strategy in place to recover lost Azure AD users. The best way to do this is to learn how to import and export users from Azure AD — here's how.

What Is Entra ID & Azure AD User Management?

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) user management refers to the administration and control of user identities and their access within an organization's Azure AD environment. It's a critical aspect of IT administration and security in businesses that use Microsoft's Azure cloud services.

Key tasks involved in Azure AD user management include:

  • User Creation and Deletion: Administrators can create new user accounts, providing them with access to necessary resources. Conversely, when a user leaves the organization or changes roles, their account may need to be deleted or modified.
  • Role Assignment: Azure AD allows for role-based access control (RBAC). This means users can be assigned specific roles that come with predefined permissions, controlling what resources they can access and what actions they can perform.
  • Access Management: Administrators can control what resources a user can access, including apps, data, and other services. This is crucial for maintaining security and ensuring users can perform their roles effectively.
  • Configuration of User Settings: This involves setting up user properties and preferences, such as multi-factor authentication settings, password reset policies, and more.
  • Group Management: Users can be grouped based on their department, role, or any other criteria. Group management simplifies the process of assigning permissions and roles to multiple users at once.
  • Monitoring and Reporting: Azure AD provides tools for tracking user activity and generating reports. This can help identify unusual activity that might indicate a security breach.

Azure AD user management is all about making sure the right individuals have the right access to the right resources at the right times, and for the right reasons. It's a key part of maintaining security, compliance, and operational efficiency in an organization.

Why Would You Need to Import and Export Entra ID & Azure AD User Accounts?

Learning to import and export users in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is a crucial skill for IT professionals and administrators. This ability is not just about managing user accounts effectively; it's also about ensuring business continuity, maintaining security, and having a robust recovery plan in place. Here's why:

  • Business Continuity: In the event of a disruption or disaster, having a recent export of your Azure AD users can help ensure business continuity. If your Azure AD were to become inaccessible for any reason, having a backup of user accounts allows you to quickly restore access, minimizing downtime and disruption to your business operations.
  • Recovery Plan: Accidental deletions happen. An administrator might inadvertently delete a user account, or a user might be removed automatically due to a configuration error. If you regularly export your Azure AD users, you can quickly restore deleted accounts, including their group memberships and access rights.
  • Audit and Compliance: Regularly exporting users from Azure AD can help with audit and compliance requirements. The exported data provides a snapshot of your Azure AD at a point in time, which can be useful for tracking changes, investigating incidents, or providing evidence of compliance with various regulations.
  • Migration and Consolidation: If you're migrating to a new Azure AD tenant or consolidating multiple tenants, you'll need to import and export users. Understanding how to do this can make the process smoother and less prone to errors.
  • Security: Regular exports can help you detect unauthorized changes. By comparing current and previous exports, you can identify any unexpected or unauthorized modifications to user accounts, such as the addition of a new user or a change to a user's permissions.

Ways to Import and Export Users from Entra ID & Azure AD: Native vs Third-Party

So, how do you actually import and export users in Azure AD? There are a few ways, including native and third-party solutions to help with the task. Depending on your company's software budget and your team's technical literacy, here's an overview of the options available:

Native Methods

Azure AD Portal: The Azure AD portal provides a user-friendly interface for managing users. You can easily import users in bulk using a CSV file and export users to a CSV file. The Azure portal also provides various user management features such as resetting passwords, assigning roles, enabling/disabling users, and more.

  • Pros:
  • - Easy to use with a user-friendly interface.
  • - No need for scripting or coding knowledge.
  • - Provides various user management features.
  • Cons:
  • - Limited flexibility and customization compared to scripting methods.
  • - Bulk operations can be time-consuming for large user bases.

PowerShell Scripts: PowerShell cmdlets provide a more flexible and powerful way to manage users in Azure AD. You can write scripts to import users from a CSV file, export users to a CSV file, and perform various user management tasks.

  • Pros:
  • - Highly flexible and customizable.
  • - Can automate repetitive tasks.
  • - Can handle complex user management tasks.
  • Cons:
  • - Requires scripting knowledge.
  • - Can be complex and time-consuming to write and test scripts.

Third-Party Solutions

ManageEngine ADManager Plus: This tool provides a feature to export Azure AD users and their attributes to a CSV file. It also allows you to import users from a CSV file to Azure AD. The tool provides a user-friendly interface and detailed reports for user management.

  • Pros:
  • - Provides a user-friendly interface.
  • - Supports bulk user import/export.
  • - Provides detailed user management reports.
  • Cons:
  • - Expensive platform that's part of a larger suite.
  • - Requires first-time installation and setup.

Auth0 for Azure AD: Auth0 provides a user import/export extension that allows you to import and export users from Azure AD. The extension supports bulk user import/export and provides a detailed log of the import/export process.

  • Pros:
  • - Supports bulk user import/export.
  • - Provides a detailed log of the import/export process.
  • - Can handle complex user management tasks.
  • Cons:
  • - It's a paid tool.
  • - Complex interface that's tricky for beginners.

Simeon Cloud: Simeon Cloud is a no-code platform that automates Microsoft Office 365 configuration, including user management in Azure Active Directory. It offers a powerful solution for backing up Azure AD user accounts via import and export, along with a detailed audit trail.

  • Pros:
  • - Provides automated Office 365 configurations.
  • - Isn't technically complex or code intensive.
  • - Can handle complex user management tasks.
  • Cons:
  • - It's a premium tool.
  • - May not be suitable for small organizations with simple user management needs.

Why Simeon Is the Best Entra ID & Azure AD User Management Tool

Simeon Cloud is a no-code configuration management platform that automates the day-to-day task of administrating Microsoft 365 components like Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Intune, and Azure AD. With Simeon, you can manage, modify, and monitor all your configuration settings in Azure AD, including users, groups, and policies.

But it doesn't stop there. You also gain access to a detailed audit log of your actions, with the ability to roll back a previous change at any time with a few clicks. Simeon serves as an all-in-one backup and restore solution for your Azure AD user accounts, ensuring business continuity in the event of an error or attack.

Want to learn more about how Simeon can streamline your Azure AD operations? Sign up for a demo, today.