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Deploying Group Policy

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Before deploying your Group Policy solution, administrators need to be familiar with the procedures for working with GPOs, including creating GPOs, importing settings, backing up and restoring GPOs, editing and linking GPOs, setting exceptions to default inheritance of GPOs, filtering the application of GPOs, delegation of administration, and using Group Policy Modeling for planning and Group Policy Results for evaluating GPO application. Figure 2.8 illustrates the place of this step in the process of designing a Group Policy infrastructure.

Figure 2.8   Deploying Group Policy

Deploying Group Policy

Always fully test your GPOs in safe (nonproduction) environments prior to production deployment. The more you plan, design, and test GPOs prior to deployment, the easier it is to create, implement, and maintain an optimal Group Policy solution. The importance of testing and pilot deployments in this context cannot be overemphasized. Your tests should closely simulate your production environment.

A design is not complete until you test and validate all its significant variations and your deployment strategy. Thorough testing of your GPO implementation strategy is not possible until you configure your GPOs using specific settings, such as security settings, and desktop and data management. Do this for each group of users and computers in the network. Use your test environment to develop, test, and validate specific GPOs. Take full advantage of the GPMC Modeling Wizard and the Results Wizard.

Consider an iterative implementation of Group Policy. That is, rather than deploying 100 new Group Policy settings, stage and then initially deploy only a few settings to validate that the Group Policy infrastructure is working well.

For more information about this phase, see "Staging Group Policy Deployments" in this book. This chapter details the information you need to deploy Group Policy into your production environment, but never deploy an untested GPO. For step-by-step details about creating a new GPO, search Help and Support Center for Windows Server 2003 using the keywords "Group Policy Object Editor." For step-by-step details about using GPMC to perform other GPO tasks such as importing settings from one GPO into another, see Help in GPMC.

Table 2.3 lists the six sample standard desktop configurations that are described in "Planning a Managed Environment" in this book. Examining these standard configurations can help you configure your Group Policy deployment. Each file is a GPO with sample standard desktop configurations you can copy into your test environment. The actual settings for each GPO are listed in the corresponding HTML reports.

Table 2.3   Sample Standard Desktop Configurations

Standard Desktop Configuration Scenario File Name

Lightly managed desktop


Mobile users desktop


Multi-user desktop


Highly managed desktop


TaskStation desktop




For information about using the sample GPOs, see the whitepaper at the Implementing Common Desktop Management Scenarios link on the Web Resources page at