GPO stands for Group Policy Object. A GPO is a component of Group Policy that can be used as a resource in Microsoft systems to control user accounts and user activity. The GPO is implemented in an Active Directory system based on various Group Policy settings, including local settings, site-wide settings, domain-level settings, and device-applied settings organizational. In this blog, we will cover everything you need to know about Group Policy, what it is, the different types of objects that can be created and managed and how it works.
GPO refers to a set of Group Policy configurations defined for a specific system. GPO is a collection of Group Policy settings that define what a system will look like and how it will behave for a defined group of users. It is also centralized management functions of the Microsoft Windows family. They allow the management of computers and users in an Active Directory environment.
Group Policy connects to the Active Directory domain and apply policies to specific groups of users and computers. Group Policies (GPOs) are stored in Administrative Template files (ADM and ADMX files). By default, these files are stored in the following locations: ADM - C:\WINDOWS\Inf, ADMX - C:\WINDOWS\PolicyDefinitions.
Group Policy objects (GPOs) are linked to the Active Directory container where the users and computers are located. If it is a computer setting, the GPO must apply to the OU that contains the targeted computer object. On the same principle if it is a User parameter, the GPO must apply to the OU that contains this user.
GPOs are processed by the Group Policy engine on the client computer, which applies the policies to the local machine.
There are two types of GPOs, we are talked about local GPO and GPO domain based:
Group Policy objects can be created and edited using the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), which is a built-in tool in Windows installed on a domain controller. The GPMC offers many other options, including importing and exporting, searching for GPOs, and creating reports. It is an enterprise tool designed to apply GPOs network-wide. To create a new GPO, you can use the GPMC to create a new GPO and link it to the appropriate Active Directory container. To edit an existing GPO, you can use the GPMC to open the GPO and make changes to the settings and configurations. To disable a GPO and remove it completely, you can locate the "Rabbit Wallpaper" GPO. Right-click on it and choose to delete. A final warning informs you that you are going to permanently delete the GPO of this domain.
Group Policy can get out of control if all administrators allow them to make all the changes they want. But it can be difficult to track changes to Group Policy because security logs don't provide full visibility into what was changed and how.
The most significant changes to GPOs should be discussed with management and documented in detail. Additionally, one should set email alerts for changes to critical GPOs, as one needs to be notified of such changes as soon as possible to avoid system downtime.
With a good OU structure, you should avoid having to block policy inheritance and enforcement. These settings can make it more difficult to manage GPOs and troubleshoot related issues.
Some of the most popular use cases:
Test GPOs before deploying them in production to ensure they work as expected.
Group Policy is a powerful feature of Active Directory that allows network administrators to manage and control the settings and configurations of computers and users in their organization. Group Policy is a core service that requires planning and care to ensure an optimal environment. By understanding what Group Policy object is, the different types of objects that can be created and managed and how it works, you can effectively report and manage your organization's network. Additionally, by following best practices for using Group Policy, you can ensure that you are applying a good GPOs and your network is secure and configured to meet the needs of your organization.
If you are in a new environment and want to understand the current status of GPOs, the fastest way is to get reports on all GPOs and start to see if they are still in use and if they are working correctly. You can do this quickly with an Active Directory reporting tool like AD FastReporter, where in the Free version you can get a basic list and in the Pro version information about linked OUs, you can use a total of 14 built-in reports for GPOs and create your own custom reports if necessary.