GPOs – Why they matter so much

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GPO. Group Policy Object. This is a very powerful management tool for controlling and administering the Windows workstations inside of a Windows domain. We’re going to look at why they make sense, and why you should consider getting experienced with them.

There are many technologies available today when we look at the common needs for networks. Most people are using one primary tool, and that’s file sharing. When you look at technologies like NAS (Network Attached Storage) and Linux file servers, many wonder why they should go for a full-fledged Windows server instead of (what is commonly) a cheaper option. One of the reasons is the ability to use GPOs, or Group Policy Objects.

GPOs allow you to manage the Windows workstations within your network right down to the nitty gritty details. For example, GPOs allow you to remove access to the task manager. Or the control panel. Or the command prompt. Why is this important ? Well, you want users to have access to the software and programs they need in order to do their work. But do they really need access to the task manager ? Or the command prompt ? Keeping them out of those areas just ensures that they don’t do something by mistake (or on purpose), causing you additional work.

But the benefits of GPOs don’t end there. It’s not only about restricting access and keeping people out of things. You also have the ability to do things like deploy software through a GPO. Using any installer that comes in the .msi format, you can push software installations to your workstations. This is great when you have something you want to install on all the computers in your domain, but just simply don’t have the time or resources to physically go to each machine and do the work.

GPOs are one of the more powerful features that Windows Servers offer. Far too often I see servers deployed that just simply don’t use GPOs for anything, and it’s disappointing, since so much can be done to optimize networks with a service that’s already included in the Windows Server operating system.

Author

Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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1 Comment

  1. James Lynch June 12, 2014 at 9:01 am

    What you have stated here “Keeping them out of those areas just ensures that they don’t do something by mistake (or on purpose). ” is a good way to explain how security problems can be affected and avoided. A thumbs up for Microsoft in creating and continuing to enhance the Group Policy Objects tool. Thanks for the report Martin L.

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