Migrating GPOs to RES PowerFuse (Part 2)

In Part 1 we covered the basics of Group Policy Objects (GPOs), how they are implemented and the shortcomings of implementing Policy objects as User Registry Policies within RES PowerFuse. In our quest to work out how to migrate existing GPOs in to RES PowerFuse we’ll take a deeper dive in to how GPOs are stored and how we can get the existing settings out and allow us to import them into RES PowerFuse.

GPOs are stored within the SYSVOL share on Domain Controllers within the Active Directory infrastructure. The following information is from Group Policy Storage page from Microsoft.com.

Group Policy objects also store Group Policy information in a folder structure called the Group Policy template that is located in the System Volume folder of domain controllers (Sysvol) in the \Policies sub-folder. The Group Policy template is the container where Security Settings, Administrative Template-based policy settings, applications available for Software Installation, and script files are stored.

When you modify a GPO, the directory name given to the Group Policy template is the GUID of the GPO that you modified. For example, assume that you modified a GPO associated with a domain called Seattle. The resulting Group Policy template folder would be named as follows (the GUID is an example):

%systemroot%\sysvol\<SYSVOL>\Seattle.yourcompanyname.com\Policies\{47636445-af79-11d0-91fe-080036644603}

Registry.pol Files

All settings defined within the “Administrative Templates” section of a GPO are saved into the SYSVOL location indicated above as a REGISTRY.POL file either under the \User or \Machine subfolder depending on whether they are User-based or Machine-based policies. Here is the quote from the MS page:

The Administrative Templates snap-in extension of Group Policy saves information in the Group Policy template in Unicode files referred to as Registry.pol files; they are stored in the Group Policy template. These files contain the customized registry settings that you specify (by using the Group Policy Object Editor) to be applied to the Computer (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE) or User (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) portion of the registry.

Two Registry.pol files are created and stored in the Group Policy template, one for Computer Configuration, which is stored in the \Machine subdirectory, and one for User Configuration, which is stored in the \User subdirectory.

When you use the Administrative Templates extension of the Group Policy Object Editor to define customized registry settings, two Registry.pol files are created and stored in the Group Policy template. One Registry.pol file is for Computer Configuration-related registry settings and is stored in the \Machine sub-directory, and the other is for User Configuration settings and is stored in the \User sub-directory.

This means that all the User-based “Administrative Temples” settings within a GPO are stored within a single REGISTRY.POL file under the \User folder in the SYSVOL share. Therefore, if we can import the REGISTRY.POL file into RES PowerFuse we have a simple way of migrating an existing GPO, in its entirety. The custom extension information won’t be imported, e.g. software installation policies etc, but you’re probably using RES Wisdom for this anyway! There will be no need to manually import the ADM/ADMX templates and manually recreate all the individual settings for everything defined under the “Administrative Templates” section. Simples!

To be continued…

2 Comments

  1. Simon Fox Author December 9, 2010 (1:53 pm)

    Finally, an issue that I am passionate about. I have looked for information of this caliber for the last several hours. Your site is greatly appreciated.

  2. Ali Ross Author December 15, 2010 (3:33 am)

    Great site. A lot of useful information here.

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