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DsWriteAccountSpn function

The DsWriteAccountSpn function writes an array of service principal names (SPNs) to the servicePrincipalName attribute of a specified user or computer account object in Active Directory Domain Services. The function can either register or unregister the SPNs.


DWORD DsWriteAccountSpn(
  _In_ HANDLE          hDS,
  _In_ DS_SPN_WRITE_OP Operation,
  _In_ LPCTSTR         pszAccount,
  _In_ DWORD           cSpn,
  _In_ LPCTSTR         *rpszSpn


hDS [in]

Contains a directory service handle obtained from either the DSBind or DSBindWithCred function.

Operation [in]

Contains one of the DS_SPN_WRITE_OP values that specifies the operation that DsWriteAccountSpn will perform.

pszAccount [in]

Pointer to a constant null-terminated string that specifies the distinguished name of a user or computer object in Active Directory Domain Services. The caller must have write access to the servicePrincipalName property of this object.

cSpn [in]

Specifies the number of SPNs in rpszSpn. If this value is zero, and Operation contains DS_SPN_REPLACE_SPN_OP, the function removes all values from the servicePrincipalName attribute of the specified account.

rpszSpn [in]

Pointer to an array of constant null-terminated strings that specify the SPNs to be added to or removed from the account identified by the pszAccount parameter. The DsGetSpn function is used to compose SPNs for a service.

Return value

Returns ERROR_SUCCESS if successful or a Win32, RPC or directory service error if unsuccessful.


The DsWriteAccountSpn function registers the SPNs for one or more instances of a service. SPNs are used by clients, in conjunction with a trusted authentication service, to authenticate the service. To protect against security attacks where an application or service fraudulently registers an SPN that identifies some other service, the default DACL on user and computer accounts allows only domain administrators to register SPNs in most cases.

One exception to this rule is that a service running under the LocalSystem account can call DsWriteAccountSpn to register a simple SPN of the form "ServiceClass/Host:Port" if the host specified in the SPN is the DNS or NetBIOS name of the computer on which the service is running.

Another exception is that the default DACL on computer accounts allows callers to register SPNs on themselves, subject to certain constraints. For example, a computer account can have SPNs relative to its computername, of the form "host/<computername>". Because the computername is contained in the SPN, the SPN is allowable.

None of the rules above apply if the DSA is configured to allow any SPN to be written. This reduces security, however, so it is not recommended.

SPNs passed to DsWriteAccountSpn are actually added to the Service-Principal-Name attribute of the computer object in pszAccount. This call is made using RPC to the domain controller where the account object is stored so it can securely enforce policy on what SPNs are allowed on the account. Using LDAP to write directly to the SPN property is not allowed; all writes must come through this RPC call. Reads using LDAP are allowed.

Permissions required to set SPNs

To write an arbitrary SPN on an account, the writer requires the "Write ServicePrincipalName" right, which is not granted by default to the person who created the account. That person has the 'Write validated SPN" right(present only on machine accounts).

Below is a summary of rights per user on machine accounts:

User TypeRights
Person creating the AccountWrite validated SPN
Account OperatorsWrite SPN and Write Validated SPN
Authenticated UsersNone
(self)Write Validated SPN


On user accounts there is no "Validated SPN" property or "Write SPN" right. Rather, the "Write public information" property set grants the ability to create arbitrary SPNs.


Minimum supported client

Windows Vista

Minimum supported server

Windows Server 2008







Unicode and ANSI names

DsWriteAccountSpnW (Unicode) and DsWriteAccountSpnA (ANSI)

See also

Domain Controller and Replication Management Functions