First in a series on improving Windows Group Policy. This apply to the whole Group Policy milieu on a network, all domain controllers.
- Even if there is only one domain controller, change the replication from 180 minutes to 15 minutes. These are in the properties of the site links, in Active Directory Sites and Services, under Inter-Site Transport, under IP. If you have more than one site link enabled, do it for all. Obviously you should moderate carefully, if you are using SMTP or have bandwidth issues.
- Set services fdPHost and FDResPub as startup Automatic, from Manual.
- Add Subnet(s) to each Site in Active Directory Sites and Services. Then show subnets in the Group Policy Management Console, and map group policies there. Even if there is only one Site, this can help a lot.
Part II, Destrangulation, is here.
Third in a series on improving Windows Group Policy.
Group Policy can and sometimes needs to copy files. If it fails, when you run this command:
GPRESULT /H gpresult.html /F
and look at gpresult.html in a web browser, you may see a permissions error, 0×80070005. This is commonly because your source file is not readable. To make this right, working advice appears to be to give read-only access to the source location, to “Authenticated Users”. Obviously this is not secure enough for some applications of this, but at the moment it is not clear what will work. “NETWORK” does not work, “SYSTEM” does not work.
But this page is a work in progress, the above permissions are clearly not satisfactory for many circumstances.
Reportedly, for user-level group policy items, the group policy engine runs with the permissions of the particular user logging in. But this does not make sense with the above, because any user logging in will be a member of “Authenticated Users”. So the engine must run as some other authenticated user, given that the user is apparently not counted as “logged in” while the engine is doing the above.
For computer-level items, the group policy engine runs with the permissions of the computer itself. This means that file copying may be quite a lot more reliable if it can be done without user information, e.g., to the public desktop et cetera. This should work by adding the security group “Domain Computers” as read-only to the source share.
Second in a series on improving Windows Group Policy.
One very common Group Policy strangulator shows up in Windows event logs as SceCli, event ID 1202. When Group Policy processing encounters this, it can prevent many things from occurring.
The error, specifically, is a nonexistent user or group present in a GP configuration item. For instance, most recently there was a Group Policy including a security item which included “Domain Uers”, a typo of “Domain Users”, deep in computer-level security items, and this prevented the policy from doing anything, even though there were other, equivalent, items in the same area. I’ll repeat, the typo item had to be removed, before the entire policy would do anything; group policy processing is apparently not able to treat a nonexistent referent as irrelevant.
Finding the item is interesting too. It requires a file of this name and location:
It may not exist. If not, or if it’s not up to date, browse to this registry key:
and set DWORD
ExtensionDebugLevel to 2. Then run
gpupdate, and the file will be created. Then in administrative CMD, run:
FIND /I "Cannot find" %SYSTEMROOT%\Security\Logs\winlogon.log
The above will produce one or more invalid security group names or login names, included somewhere as a configuration item within a group policy. Once you have the name(s), run:
and examine all of its tree carefully, to find the error. That will lead you to the spot in GPMC where you will find the bad entry, to fix. Once you have fixed, try your
gpupdate again, and your policy will apply, unless something else is wrong!
Part III, Copying Files, is here.
In my experience, group policy is the only nearly indispensable tool on a Microsoft domain-controlled LAN which breaks very often and admits of almost zero solid documentation towards fix. Someday this may be thorough, Lord willing; for now, we have:
Part I, General
Part II, Destrangulation
Part III, Copying Files
When we install new group policy templates from Microsoft, e.g., the Windows 10 set by which we may upgrade existing networks, they now come in the newer ADMX format. Do this on every domain controller:
- The package is downloaded as a self-installing EXE which requires you to specify a folder. Do not try to manually unpack this, for some reason the contents are in small pieces which the installer assembles. Just run the EXE and give a useful path, e.g., C:\IT.
- Open an administrative CMD, and CD to the extraction point. Then CD into the folder “admx”, one level down.
- Run the following. If your language is not en-us, replace it in the last two lines. If your servers have multiple languages, you’ll need to replicate lines with multiple language specifications.
xcopy *.admx \\%userdnsdomain%\sysvol\%userdnsdomain%\Policies /Y /I
xcopy *.admx %SystemRoot%\PolicyDefinitions /Y /I
xcopy en-US\*.adml \\%userdnsdomain%\sysvol\%userdnsdomain%\Policies\en-us /Y /I
xcopy en-US\*.adml %SystemRoot%\PolicyDefinitions\en-us /Y /I
Another very common set needing this install, is the Office 2016 Administrative Templates.
Multiple versions of Office templates coexist nicely. But the same cannot be said for Windows OS templates. As of this writing, 2017-11-03, it appears that when a complete refresh of OS templates is required, good results obtain by first installing the Windows 8.1 set, then the update, then the latest Windows 10 set on top of that, replacing all each time. This seems to bring everything up to date while not causing conflicts.
There are multiple ways to set printers up by group policy in Windows. There is a printer administration role which can make things easier or harder, depending on how well everything is working. The simplest way, is to open the Group Policy Management Console from a domain controller, open up an appropriate policy, and open it to here:
then right-click in the white box, you’ll get a menu, choose “New”, choose “Shared Printer”, Action should be “Update” or “Replace” if “Update” doesn’t work, and you’ll choose the printer by “Share Path”. You can leave everything else alone unless you need something special. Sometimes it works better to do a Delete and then Create for each printer. The vagueness here is due to unknown but widely experienced vagaries in behavior of Group Policy which are addressed in no known documentation.
Please do note that we set these up under “User Configuration” not “Computer Configuration”. It is possible to do it under Computer, but removals can be far more difficult if we do, there have been messes seen.
To create a shortcut on client desktops by group policy, browse here in GPMC:
User Configuration, Preferences, Windows Settings, Shortcuts
To control Internet Explorer settings by group policy, do the following in the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), after beginning the edit of a policy object:
Open User Configuration, Windows Settings; right-click on Internet Explorer Maintenance, and choose Preference Mode, Advanced. Now on the right pane you will see “Corporate Settings” and “Internet Settings”, and IE can be controlled quite nicely from there. This is a very good way to help control disk space usage on a terminal server, for instance.
The GP item is under Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Security Center.
Apparently, updates to both server and client PCs have to be quite current.