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Feb 2013

9 Group Policy Troubleshooting Strategies You Can Use Right now.

Troubleshooting Group Policy often makes you feel like you’re forced to “go at it alone.” You can feel a little helpless when customers are being nasty toward you, and you’re confused about where to start.

So it’s no surprise that when people come to my live Group Policy Master classes, one BIG THING they want is strategies on how to best troubleshoot Group Policy.

(Next live class: Chicago, Monday March 25 – March 29th) –

Answer: There is no silver bullet toward Group Policy troubleshooting. There is a “holistic approach” to Group Policy troubleshooting, but that takes more hands-on time (which you’d get with me if you come to class. ? ) But for now, here are some base-hit  things which you can do if you’re stuck and in a rut.

Check for disabled GPOs: If the GPO is disabled or half the GPO is disabled, you need to hunt it down. Maybe someone decided to disable a GPO link and didn’t tell you?

Understand Inheritance: Between local, site, domain, and multiple nested OUs, it can be a challenge to locate the GPO you need to fix.

WMI Filters getting in the way?: Introducing WMI filters can make troubleshooting even harder. Don’t know what WMI filters are? Maybe you have ’em and don’t even know it.

Permissions problems: Ensuring that users and computers are in the correct site, domain, and OU is one battle; however, ensuring that they have the correct permissions to access GPOs is quite another.

Different processing between different OS (XP / 7/ 8 / WS 08 / WS12): Need I say more?  You HAVE to learn the differences here, or you will be bit on the ass when you needed to have this knowledge at your fingertips (but didn’t have it.)

Replication problems: The health of the GPO itself on Domain Controllers is important when hunting down policy settings that aren’t applying.

Infrastructure problems: Group Policy processing requires that all pieces of your infrastructure are healthy, including such seemingly unrelated pieces as DNS, the services running on the client, and the ability to pass network protocols between clients and domain controllers. Good Active Directory design equals good (consistent) Group Policy processing. The first place to look when Active Directory (or replication) behaves strangely is DNS. As my good friend Mark Minasi likes to say, “The second place to look for replication problems is DNS, too.” That’s because problems with Active Directory almost always result from the DNS misconfiguration.

Loopback policy processing: Sometimes, by mistake, an administrator has enabled loopback policy processing for a computer (or multiple computers). When this happens, the user sees unexpected behavior because the GPOs that would normally apply to him are suddenly out of the ordinary. Getting a full grasp on how loopback policy processing works is very, very tricky. Not only do we have two different modes (Replace or Merge), on top of that you can have complex permission settings on the GPOs themselves, making it hard to calculate which settings a given user will take on.

Slow links: You’ve got a VPN for your Windows users or you’ve rolled out DirectAccess for a seamless VPN experience. Now how and when are your clients going to process GPOs? Well, it depends. If you’re seeing inconsistent behavior, this could be why.

Hopefully, this gives you a little shortcut if you’re stuck. So, again, the best way to get smarter in this stuff is to NOT go at it alone.

Take the class, for the love of Pete and get the secret weapons you need to solve the serious Group Policy problems you already have. With hands on labs, you’ll be pre-prepared before your next problem actually bubbles up.

Again: Next live class: Chicago, Monday March 25 – March 29th.

This will be my last one for some time – I guarantee it. If you miss this one, you literally won’t be able to take a class from me for a long, long time.

Sign up online or call 302-351-4903 and talk with Jackie and you can use a PO. Discounts for 4+ students in the same class.


See you there.


Jeremy Moskowitz (Group Policy Community)    (PolicyPak Software)

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