I sometimes get stuck in my ways and can’t see the wood for the trees. I also find that many administrators find themselves in this situation, especially when it comes to Group Policy. In an attempt to create a list of resources and tools that you can refer back to again and again, I am putting this article together. The goal of the article is to provide some links and info about tools and resources that exist for free, all pertaining to Group Policy.
Group Policy Settings Spreadsheets
As Group Policy or Windows administrators, we are all fully aware of the raw number of Group Policy settings in a single GPO. We started with about 600 in Windows 2000 and just 10 years later have taken that number to a factor of 10. Now, with nearly 6000 Group Policy settings in a single GPO, there is little that you can not do with to a server or desktop using Group Policy.
The big issue now is how you find your setting or even know what settings are available. Not to mention you need to document the settings in some way.
PolicySettings Spreadsheets from Microsoft – This link contains the Excel spreadsheets which detail the majority of the GPO settings under Administrative Templates and Security Settings in a GPO. There are versions for:
- Group Policy Settings Reference for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7
- Group Policy Settings Reference for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1
- Group Policy Settings Reference for Windows Vista
- Group Policy Settings Reference for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2
PolicySettings Spreadsheet from Microsoft for IE 8 – This link is to the Excel spreadsheet for just IE 8 settings.
Group Policy Administrative Templates
The Administrative Templates portion of a GPO allows for custom ADM templates to be imported (ADMX/ADML for Windows Vista/7/2008/R2). Here are some references for pre-generated templates you can download and use immediately.
Office 2007 Administrative Templates –This includes ADM, ADMX, and ADML templates for you to use
Office 2003 Administrative Templates –This includes ADM templates for Office 2003
Windows Powershell – Controls for Powershell via Group Policy
App-V (Application Virtualization) – The Microsoft Application Virtualization ADM template configures client settings for the App-V Windows Desktop Client and for the Terminal Services client
ADMX Migrator – Allows for migration from your ADM to ADMX/ADML file format
Group Policy Accelerator and Security Compliance Manager (SCM)
Microsoft put together a few tools to help you generate GPOs that will help with security. These tools have come a long way and there is now an amazing new tool to help you do this. Here, I am pointing you to the newest generation of these tools. The new one, Security Compliance Manager (SCM), just went public on April 7, 2010! The old one, GPOAccelerator, has been replaced with the new one.
Group Policy Videos
There have been many videos generated to help administrators and GPO gurus get stuff done. I know that I have generated many videos and there have also been videos generated by many others in the Group Policy world. Here are topics and links to some of the videos that I think are most useful.
- Troubleshooting Group Policy
- Using Group Policy with Windows and Windows Server 2008
- Group Policy Management updates in Vista/7 and 2008
- Windows 7 features such as Group Policy, BitLocker To Go, DirectAccess, BranchCache, and AppLocker
- Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM)
- Group Policy Preferences
- Advanced Auditing in Group Policy
- BitLocker ToGo
Group Policy Blog
One of the best tools you can use to get direct informaion and feedback from the Group Policy team at Microsoft is to use their blog. Here you will get first hand information from Lilia, Mark, Kevin, who all have had direct impact on Group Policy from within Microsoft. You will also find input from Group Policy MVPs such as Jeremy, Mark, Florian, Darren, me and more.
Group Policy Resource Kit
One of the most useful and in-depth desktop references you can get is the Group Policy Resource Kit by MSPress. As the author of this book, I know that covers everything you need to know to get Group Policy running efficiently in your environment. It covers all you need to know about Group Policy Preferences, troubleshooting, and details about every aspect of Group Policy.
Group Policy Video Mentor
New to the market is this video that walks you through the basics of Group Policy and is an excellent reference for anyone trying to get a handle on the core concepts of Group Policy. This video covers everything from basic foundation concepts of Group Policy, to linking, setting inheritance, changing inheritance, Group Policy storage, and much more. If you don’t believe me that this is an amazing resource, just look at the comments about the video online. The goal is to have more in the line of this video series, so if you want more in-depth videos on Group Policy, please let me or the publisher know. I would love to generate a video mentor for Group Policy Preferences, troubleshooting, and a “guru version”.
Group Policy Articles
If you want how-to articles on Group Policy, you can find them in many places. Here are some links to where you can find a ton of articles in just a few clicks. Most of these articles are by yours truly. I find that articles are a great way to get a step-by-step view of how to do anything Group Policy. If there are any other articles that you feel you want on Group Policy, please email me at [email protected].
Now you have the inside scoop on where to go to get about anything Group Policy. If there is anything missing from this list, just click around the links inside the above Web links and you will find what you need. If there are any questions you have about Group Policy, you can email me directly at [email protected], post to the blog link above, or hit the forum listed above. You will find help at any location! Good luck and keep using Group Policy!