Active Directory 2008: Group Policy Preferences…

Preferences Facts

Group Policy preferences allow you to configure, deploy, and manage operating system and application settings that you cannot manage using Group Policy settings. Group Policy preferences include the ability to configure mapped drives, scheduled tasks, and Start menu settings.

The table below compares Group Policy preferences to Group Policy settings.

Group Policy Preferences Group Policy Settings
Characteristics of Group Policy   preferences include:

  • Preferences are not enforced
  • The user interface is not        disabled
  • Preferences can be applied        once or refreshed periodically
  • You can easily create        preference items for registry settings, files, and environment settings
  • You can import individual        registry settings or entire registry branches from a local or a remote        computer
  • Preferences are not available        in local Group Policy
  • Preferences support non-Group        Policy-aware applications
  • Removing the preference item        does not restore the original setting
  • Targeting is granular, with a        user interface for each type of targeting item
  • Preferences provide a        familiar, easy-to-use interface for configuring most settings
Characteristics of Group Policy   settings include:

  • Settings are enforced
  • The user interface is        disabled
  • Settings are refreshed        periodically
  • You cannot create policy        settings to manage objects such as files or folders
  • Policy settings are available        in local Group Policy
  • Policies require Group        Policy-aware applications
  • Removing the policy setting        restores the original settings
  • Supports filtering at a GPO        level
  • Filtering is based on Windows        Management Instrumentation (WMI) and requires writing WMI queries
  • Provides an alternative user        interface for most policy settings

You should know the following facts about Group Policy preferences:

  • The      primary difference between Group Policy preferences and Group Policy      settings is that preferences are applied but not enforced (users can      change settings applied through preferences). Group Policy preferences do      not cause the application or operating system feature to disable the user      interface for the settings they configure.
  • Group      Policy writes preferences to the locations in the registry where the      application or operating system stores the setting.
  • Group      Policy preferences support applications and operating system features that      are not Group Policy-aware.
  • If      you choose to apply Group Policy preferences only once (rather than      refresh them regularly), users can customize the preference permanently on      their individual machines.
  • You      can use the Set-GPPrefRegistryValue Windows PowerShell cmdlet to      configure Group Policy preferences.
    Note: You must use the import-module grouppolicy command to      import the Group Policy module before you use Windows PowerShell to manage      Group Policy preferences.
  • To      apply Group Policy preferences, the client must have the client-side extensions      (CSEs) installed. Client-side extensions are built in to Windows 7 and      Windows Server 2008 R2, but must be manually installed for previous      generations of Windows clients.

The following table provides an explanation to each Group Policy preference:

Preference Description
Drive maps Manages network drive mappings   without writing logon scripts.
Environment Manages user and system   environment variables or updates the environment path.
Files
Folders
Manages files or folders, such as   copying configuration files to users’ profile folders, or regularly cleaning   up temporary folders.
Ini Files Modifies and updates individual   properties within a .ini file.
Network shares Manages network shares on   multiple, targeted computers. Additionally, it prevents users from seeing   subfolders for which they lack permission to access, and configures user   limits.
Registry Manages  registry entries,   without the need to write scripts.
Shortcuts Manages several types of shortcuts   on multiple, targeted users and computers.
Devices Enables or disables devices based   on a device class identifier.
Folder options Configures folder options and file   extension associations.
Internet settings Configures Internet Explorer   options for Windows Internet Explorer.
Local users and groups Manages local users and groups.
Network connections Configures VPN and dial-up   connections.
Power options Configures power options and power   schemes for computers.
Printers Manages shared printers, TCP/IP   printers, and local printers.
Regional options Configures the user locale,   including number, currency, time, and date formats.
Scheduled tasks Manages scheduled tasks on   targeted users and computers.
Services Configures services to:

  • Run automatically
  • Start if required
  • Disable and stop if necessary
Start menu Configures Start menu options for   users.
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