What is Group Policy Object (GPO) and Why is it Important? (2023)


  • Linda Rosencrance
  • Amy Kucharik,TechTarget

Microsoft’s Group Policy Object (GPO) is a collection of Group Policy settings that defines what a system will look like and how it will behave for a defined group of users.

(Video) Active Directory - Introduction to Group Policy (GPO)

Microsoft provides a programsnap-inthat allows you to use the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC). The selections result in a Group Policy Object. The GPO is associated with selectedActive Directorycontainers, such as sites,domains or organizational units (OU). The GPMC allows you to create a GPO that definesregistry-based polices, security options, software installation and maintenance options, scripts options and folder redirection options.

Types of GPOs

There are three types of GPOs: local, non-local and starter.

  • Local Group Policy Objects. Alocal Group Policy Objectrefers to the collection of group policy settings that only apply to the local computer and to the users who log on to that computer. Local GPOs are used when policy settings need to apply to a single Windows computer or user. Local GPOs exist by default on all Windows computers.
  • Non-local Group Policy Objects. Anon-local group policy objectis used when policy settings have to apply to one or more Windows computers or users. Non-local GPOs apply to Windows computers or users once they’re linked to Active Directory objects, such as sites, domains or organizational units.
  • Starter Group Policy Objects. Introduced in Windows Server 2008, starter GPOs are templates for Group Policy settings. These objects enable an administrator to create and have a pre-configured group of settings that represent a baseline for any future policy to be created.

Data Security and Group Policy Object

There are some Group Policy settings that can help secure a company’s network. For example, through Group Policy, an organization can run scripts, stop users from accessing certain resources and perform simple tasks, such as forcing a particular home page to open for every network user.

(Video) Group Policy Objects (GPO) | Windows Server 2019 | Ep 11

Some of these security measures include:

  • Limiting access to Control Panel -- through Control Panel, a company can control all aspects of a computer. Limiting who has access to a computer enables organizations to keep data and other resources safe.
  • Disabling Command Prompt -- A company can use Command Prompts to run commands that give high-level access to users and bypass other system restrictions. That’s why it’s prudent to disable Command Prompt to ensure the security of system resources. If a user tries to open a command window after Command Prompt has been disabled, the system will display a message indicating that some settings are preventing this.
  • Prevent software installations -- if users are allowed to install software, they may install unwanted applications or malware that can compromise a company’s system. As such, it’s better to prevent software installations through Group Policy.
What is Group Policy Object (GPO) and Why is it Important? (1)

Benefits of Group Policy Objects

There are several benefits to implementing GPOs in addition to security, including:

  • More efficient management -- GPOs already in place apply a standardized environment to all new users and computers that join an organization’s domain, saving time on setup.
  • Ease of administration -- system administrators can deploy software, patches and other updates via GPO.
  • Better password policy enforcement -- GPOs determine password length, reuse rules and establish other requirements for passwords to keep a company’s network safe.
  • Configuring folder redirection -- GPOs enable companies to ensure users are keeping important company files on a centralized and monitored storage system. For instance, an organization can redirect a user’s Documents folder, which is usually stored on a local drive, to a network location.

Limitations of GPOs

The limitations of Group Policy Objects include:

(Video) Understanding Active Directory and Group Policy

  • They run sequentially -- GPOs process actions one after another. Consequently, if many GPOs have to be configured, it can take a long time for users to log on.
  • Flexibility is limited -- GPOs can only be applied to users or computers. So they’re limited when it comes to applying settings based on context.
  • Limited triggers -- GPOs can only be applied at computer startup, when a user logs on or at set intervals. GPOs can’t react to changes in environment, such as network disconnect or reconnect.
  • Difficult to maintain -- there’s no built-in search or filter option to find a specific setting within a GPO, making it difficult to find or fix issues with existing settings.
  • No Version control -- changes made to GPO settings aren’t audited. So if an incorrect change is made, it’s impossible to tell what the change was or who made it.

Processing order of GPOs

The processing order of Group Policies effects what settings are applied to the computer or end-user. This processing order is known as LSDOU: local, site, domain, organization unit. First the local computer policy is processed, followed by Active Directory policies from site level to domain, then into OU (GPOs in nested organizational units apply from the OU closest to the root first, and continues from there). If there are any conflicts, the last applied policy will take effect.

Examples of GPOs

The following are examples of Group Policy Objects:

  • A GPO might specify the home page that’s first displayed when a user launches Internet Explorer. When the user logs on to the domain, that group policy object is retrieved and applied to the configuration of the user’s Internet Explorer.
  • An organization can deploy shared network printer connections to users from a specificOU of Active Directory by using Group Policy. So when a user logs in to Windows, an assigned network printer will automatically appear in the list of available printers.
  • Admins can use a group policy to adjust settings, such as turning off computer displays are a certain period of time, choosing default programs and preventing users from changing Internet connection options.

Best practices

Some best practices for GPOs include:

(Video) Windows Server 2019 Group Policy Explained

  • Create a well-designed organizational unit structure in Active Directory to simplify applying and troubleshooting Group Policy.
  • Give GPOs descriptive names to enable admins to quickly identify what each GPO does.
  • Add comments to each GPO explaining why it was created, what its purpose is and what its settings are.
  • Don’t set GPOs at the domain level because they’ll be applied to all computer and user objects. That could cause some settings to be applied to some objects unnecessarily.
  • Don’t use the root computers or user folders in Active Directory because they’re not organizational units and they can’t have GPOs linked to them. When a new user or computer object appears in these folders, it should be immediately to the appropriate OU.
  • Don’t disable a GPO. Rather, delete the link from an OU instead of disabling the GPO if you don’t want it to be applied. Disabling the GPO will prevent it from being applied entirely on the domain. That could be a problem because if that particular Group Policy is used in another OU, it won’t work there any longer.

This was last updated in September 2019

Continue Reading About Group Policy Object (GPO)

  • A Windows Server 2016 Group Policy walkthrough
  • Microsoft Group Policy administrative template
  • Learn Group Policy basics for Windows administrators

Related Terms

cluster quorum disk
A cluster quorum disk is the storage medium on which the configuration database is stored for a cluster computing network. Seecompletedefinition
iterative DNS query
An iterative DNS query is a request for a website name or URL. Seecompletedefinition
User Principal Name (UPN)
In Microsoft Active Directory, a User Principal Name (UPN) is a username and domain in an email address format. Seecompletedefinition

Dig Deeper on IT operations and infrastructure management

  • How to fix a remote desktop microphone that's not workingBy: JoHarder
  • Enabling and supporting webcam use on remote desktopsBy: JoHarder
  • How to avoid common GPO backup and restore problemsBy: MikeKanakos
  • How to address roaming profiles with GPOsBy: JoHarder


What is group policy object and why is it important? ›

Microsoft's Group Policy Object (GPO) is a collection of Group Policy settings that defines what a system will look like and how it will behave for a defined group of users. Microsoft provides a program snap-in that allows you to use the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC).

What is Group Policy GPO? ›

A Group Policy Object (GPO) is a virtual collection of policy settings. A GPO has a unique name, such as a GUID. Group Policy settings are contained in a GPO. A GPO can represent policy settings in the file system and in the Active Directory.

What is Group Policy GPO and Why It Matters for data security? ›

Group Policy is a hierarchical infrastructure that allows a network administrator in charge of Microsoft's Active Directory to implement specific configurations for users and computers. Group Policy is primarily a security tool, and can be used to apply security settings to users and computers.

What is the purpose of a group policy object GPO quizlet? ›

What is the purpose of a Group Policy object (GPO)? It allows administrators to apply a collection of configuration settings to objects within an Active Directory domain.

What is an example of a GPO? ›

Examples of group policies include configuring operating system security, adding firewall rules, or managing applications like Microsoft Office or a browser. Group Policies also install software and run startup and login scripts.

How does GPO work in Active Directory? ›

Each GPO is linked to an Active Directory container in which the computer or user belongs. By default, the system processes the GPOs in the following order: local, site, domain, then organizational unit. Therefore, the computer or user receives the policy settings of the last Active Directory container processed.

What is a Group Policy quizlet? ›

A policy is a set of configuration settings applied to users or computers. Group policies allow the administrator to apply multiple settings to multiple objects within the Active Directory domain at one time. Collections of policy settings are stored in a Group Policy object (GPO).

What is Group Policy and its types? ›

More specifically, we learned that a group policy object (GPO) is a collection of policy settings available to define the configuration or behavior of users or computers. There are three types of GPOs: local, nonlocal, and starter.

What is GPO process? ›

Group Policy Objects, or GPOs, are assigned by linking them to containers (sites, domains, or Organizational Units (OUs)) in Active Directory (AD). Then, they are applied to computers and users in those containers.

What are 3 Best Practices for GPOs? ›

Here are Active Directory Group Policy best practices that will help you to secure your systems and optimize Group Policy performance.
  • Do not modify the Default Domain Policy and Default Domain Controller Policy. ...
  • Create a well-designed organizational unit (OU) structure in Active Directory. ...
  • Give GPOs descriptive names.

What tool would you use for group policy object management? ›

Windows Group Policy Management Tool. ADManager Plus is a web-based Active Directory Group Policy management tool that helps administrators like you manage multiple Windows Group Policy Objects (GPOs) at once.

What is the purpose of a group? ›

People in groups interact, engage and identify with each other, often at regular or pre-determined times and places. The group members share beliefs, principles, and standards about areas of common interest and they come together to work on common tasks for agreed purposes and outcomes.

Where do we create Group Policy Objects? ›

Open the Group Policy Management console. In the navigation pane, expand Forest:YourForestName, expand Domains, expand YourDomainName, and then click Group Policy Objects. Click Action, and then click New. In the Name text box, type the name for your new GPO.

How many GPOs are there? ›

There are over 600 GPOs in the US, which are unique in how they are structured. Oftentimes, GPOs rely on fees paid by vendors to finance their operations. Significant variability exists among GPOs. Some specialize in surgical supplies and equipment, others in bulk licenses for nursing homes.

Who are major GPOs? ›

10 GPOs with the most staffed beds
RankGPO# of Beds
2Premier Inc341,968
3HealthTrust Purchasing Group (HPG)173,557
6 more rows

Where are GPOs in Active Directory? ›

To view all the GPOs linked to any specific container, Click the 'AD Mgmt' tab. In 'GPO Management' section click on the 'GPO Management' link. In the 'Group Policy Management' pane on the left hand side, click on 'All Domains' to expand the link and view all the configured domains.

How often are GPOs applied? ›

By default, user Group Policy is refreshed/applied in the background every 90 minutes, with a random offset of 0 to 30 minutes (method 3). But for this 90 minutes and 0 to 30 minutes, we can configure GPO to customize refresh interval.

What is the difference between Active Directory and Group Policy? ›

An Active Directory environment means that you must have at least one server with the Active Directory Domain Services installed. Group Policy allows you to centralize the management of computers on your network without having to physically go to and configure each computer individually.

What is in a Group Policy? ›

Group Policy is an infrastructure that allows you to specify managed configurations for users and computers through Group Policy settings and Group Policy Preferences. To configure Group Policy settings that affect only a local computer or user, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor.

What is a group of policies called? ›

A set of Group Policy configurations is called a Group Policy Object (GPO).

What are at least 4 things you can do with Group Policy? ›

Here is the list of top 10 Group Policy Settings:
  • Moderating Access to Control Panel.
  • Prevent Windows from Storing LAN Manager Hash.
  • Control Access to Command Prompt.
  • Disable Forced System Restarts.
  • Disallow Removable Media Drives, DVDs, CDs, and Floppy Drives.
  • Restrict Software Installations.
  • Disable Guest Account.
Jan 6, 2023

What are the 4 types of policy? ›

The American political scientist Theodore J. Lowi proposed four types of policy, namely distributive, redistributive, regulatory and constituent in his article "Four Systems of Policy, Politics and Choice" and in "American Business, Public Policy, Case Studies and Political Theory".

What are the three major types of policies? ›

The three types of public policies are regulatory, restrictive, and facilitating policies.

What are the two types of default GPOs? ›

When you establish the domain and the domain controller, two GPOs are created by default:
  • Default Domain Policy GPO. A GPO created for and linked to the domain within Active Directory. ...
  • Default Domain Controllers Policy GPO.
Feb 11, 2009

How many GPOs is too many? ›

Microsoft recommends only 20 to 30 Group Policies, but it is commonplace to see many more GPOs in use in the real world.

What are the two types of GPO filtering? ›

Default Group policy settings

To exclude certain users or computers, or to apply filters only to a select few, you can filter the group policies in two ways: Security filtering. WMI filtering.

What are three advantages to using Group Policy Objects GPOs in your domain? ›

In a nutshell, the benefits of group policy objects are: better security, better management over users' rights and their passwords, and over-computer behavior as a standardized environment will prevent wasting time with setups and let your sysadmins deploy patches or make any updates they want via GPOs.

What's the difference between a group policy object and a local policy object? ›

Local Group Policies are very similar to the Group Policy settings that are a part of the Active Directory. Unlike Active Directory-based Group Policy objects, however, local Windows Group Policies apply only to a computer's local operating system, and they are not designed to be centrally managed.

What are the benefits of group objects in AD DS? ›

The AD DS group structure, although not new in AD DS, provides an efficient mechanism for managing security on large numbers of users. Without groups to logically organize users, permissions on each object in a network must be set up manually on a per-user basis.

What is group object in Active Directory? ›

What is an Active Directory Group Object? As the self-explanatory name suggests, this object is meant to represent a group. In AD, a group is an object which can contain a collection of users, or computers, or contacts, or even other groups as members. It simplifies the administrative burden.

Where are GPO objects stored? ›

The GPOs are stored in the SYSVOL folder. The SYSVOL folder is automatically replicated to other domain controllers in the same domain. A policy file uses approximately 2 megabytes (MB) of hard disk space.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of group method? ›

What are the advantages and disadvantages of group-based learning?
  • Disadvantages of large groups. Greater chance of conflict between individual learners. Decision-making takes more time. Segregation of individuals can occur. ...
  • Advantages of large groups. More ideas can be generated. Greater diversity of ideas and opinions.

Does GPO override local policy? ›

A: The value defined for any policy (e.g., the minimum password length defined as eight) in Group Policy Objects (GPOs) overrides any value defined for the same policy in the computer's local policy object.

Does GPO change local policy? ›

Local Group Policy

This means you can configure Group Policies locally, but the system can overwrite them when you've set Group Policies to trump these settings from site, domain, or OU GPOs applied to your system or user account.

What are the advantages of grouping object? ›

The main reasons to group objects are to make it easier to move, align or resize objects together.

What are the 3 main functions of Active Directory? ›

The Top 3 major benefits of Active Directory Domain Services are:
  • Centralized resources and security administration.
  • Single logon for access to global resources.
  • Simplified resource location.
Nov 12, 2021

What do you understand by object group? ›

In category theory, a branch of mathematics, group objects are certain generalizations of groups that are built on more complicated structures than sets.

What are the two types of groups in Active Directory? ›

Active Directory has two types of groups:
  • Security groups: Use to assign permissions to shared resources.
  • Distribution groups: Use to create email distribution lists.
Oct 5, 2022

What is a Group Policy in Windows? ›

Group Policy is an infrastructure that allows you to specify managed configurations for users and computers through Group Policy settings and Group Policy Preferences. To configure Group Policy settings that affect only a local computer or user, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor.

How do I create a group object in Active Directory? ›

To add a new membership group in Active Directory
  1. Open the Active Directory Users and Computers console.
  2. In the navigation pane, select the container in which you want to store your group. ...
  3. Click Action, click New, and then click Group.
  4. In the Group name text box, type the name for your new group.
Dec 9, 2022


1. Learn Microsoft Group Policy the Easy Way!
(Andy Malone MVP)
2. Introduction to Security with Group Policy Objects and Organizational Units in Windows Server 2012
(Eli the Computer Guy)
3. Group Policy Basics - Part 1.0 Understanding the Structure of a Group Policy Object
(Chandramani Sahu)
4. Group Policy Types and components
5. Group Policy Basics - Part 1.1 Understanding the Structure of a Group Policy Object
(Chandramani Sahu)
6. Changing UAC Behavior via Group Policy Object
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Errol Quitzon

Last Updated: 03/09/2023

Views: 5735

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Errol Quitzon

Birthday: 1993-04-02

Address: 70604 Haley Lane, Port Weldonside, TN 99233-0942

Phone: +9665282866296

Job: Product Retail Agent

Hobby: Computer programming, Horseback riding, Hooping, Dance, Ice skating, Backpacking, Rafting

Introduction: My name is Errol Quitzon, I am a fair, cute, fancy, clean, attractive, sparkling, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.