In this post, you will learn how to configure and manage the group policy central store.
What is the Group Policy Central Store?
The group policy central store is a central location to store all the group policy template files. This eliminates the need for admins to load and open group policy template files on systems used to manage group policy.
Group Policy Central Store Benefits
- Ensures all admins are using the same group policy template files
- Loads the same template files from any computer
- Makes it easier to manage and update template files by having only one location to update
- Reduces template files in the sysvol and reduces replication traffic between domain controllers.
Now that you understand what the group policy central store is let’s see how to configure it.
Configure Group Policy Central Store
Step 1: Download new Group Policy Templates
When Microsoft releases new versions of Windows it also releases new group policy templates.
If you have other group policy templates such as Office, OneDrive, chrome and so on you will follow these same steps for the central store.
Download and extract the templates to your computer.
You can extract the files to any location on your local computer. I chose to extract to the default location.
Step 2: Create PolicyDefinitions Folder
The next step is to create a PolicyDefinitions folder in the SYSVOL directory.
The exact path is SYSVOL\Yourdomain\Policies
Right click, create a new folder and name it PolicyDefinitions
You can also find this path by logging into your domain controller and browsing to this path
Step 3: Copy extracted files
The last step is to copy the extracted files from step 1 into the PolicyDefinitions folder. In the extracted folder you will notice there are folders for different languages.
You can copy them all to the central store but choose to just copy the language I need. There is no need to copy templates for other languages but again it’s not a big deal if you do.
You can see below I have copied the extracted templates to the PolicyDefinitions folder created in step 2.
That was the final step in configuring the group policy central store.
Verify Group Policy Central Store
To verify the central store is working, edit a GPO and navigate to Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates. It should now say the definitions are retrieved from the central store like the screenshot below.
Now that the central store is configured you can open the group policy management console on any computer and it will load the templates from the central store. You will no longer need to mess around with keeping templates updated across multiple systems.
Have anything to share? Let me know in the comments below.
Recommended Tool: SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM)
This utility was designed to Monitor Active Directory and other critical applications. It will quickly spot domain controller issues, prevent replication failures, track failed logon attempts and much more.
What I like best about SAM is it’s easy to use dashboard and alerting features. It also has the ability to monitor virtual machines and storage.