William Stanek: Going past go with Group Policy Preferences

William here. Last time I talked about what Group Policy Preferences are and aren’t. So now let’s start looking at how you can use them to make your life easier. Unlike GP settings which apply to both local computer policy and Active Directory policy, GP preferences only apply to Active Directory policy. You use preferences to configure many areas of the operating system, including

  • System devices, including USB ports, floppy drives and removable media.

  • Network shares and mapping of network shares to drive letters

  • System and user environment variables

  • User and group accounts for the local computer

  • VPN and dial-up networking connections

  • Printer configuration and mapping

  • Registry settings, schedule tasks, and system services

  • Settings for Folder Options, Internet Options, Regional and Language Options

  • Settings for power schemes and power Management

  • Start Menu properties and menu items

Preferences also can help you manage files, folders and shortcuts. You can use preferences to create shortcuts and folders on computers. You also can copy files from a source location to a specified file path on computers.

Previously many of these features were configured with logon, logoff, startup, or shutdown scripts or by manual configuration of system images. Therefore, with GP preferences, you may able to replace these types of scripts or manual configuration. Applying configuration through preferences is easier than you think as well. For example, if you don’t want computers to run a service such as the FTP service or the World Wide Web Publishing service, you can configure a preference to disable and stop the service. Although preferences are unmanaged and not enforced, you can set the preference to be applied each time Group Policy is refreshed. As a result, if a user started the service, it would be stopped and then disabled whenever GP is refreshed.

So what’s the scoop. Here it is: GP preferences allow you to configure many areas of the operating system and they may allow you to replace certain types of scripts and manual configuration tasks. Next up: Applying preferences with CRUD.

William R. Stanek

williamstanek at aol dot com

Twitter at williamstanek

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