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Storage of Group Policy objects

Updated: January 21, 2005

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

Storage of Group Policy objects

Each computer that runs Windows XP Professional, Windows XP 64-bit Edition (Itanium), or the Windows Server 2003 operating systems, has exactly one local Group Policy object (GPO). It is stored in systemroot\System32\GroupPolicy.

Group Policy objects, other than the local Group Policy object, are virtual objects. The policy setting information of a GPO is actually stored in two locations: the Group Policy container and the Group Policy template. The Group Policy container is an Active Directory container that stores GPO properties, including information on version, GPO status, and a list of components that have settings in the GPO. The Group Policy template is a folder structure within the file system that stores Administrative Template-based policies, security settings, script files, and information regarding applications that are available for Group Policy Software Installation. The Group Policy template is located in the system volume folder (Sysvol) in the \Policies subfolder for its domain. For more information about the local Group Policy object, see Local Group Policy.

Group Policy container

The Group Policy container is a directory service object. It includes subcontainers for computer and user Group Policy information. The Group Policy container contains the following data:

  • Version information--Used to verify that the information is synchronized with Group Policy template information.

  • Status information--Indicates whether the Group Policy object is enabled or disabled for this site, domain, or organizational unit.

  • List of components--Specifies which extensions to Group Policy have settings in the Group Policy object.

The Group Policy container stores information for Group Policy Software Installation and for Folder Redirection, which are extensions of the Group Policy Object Editor. For more information, see Group Policy Software Installation overview and Folder Redirection.

Group Policy template

The Group Policy template is a folder of domain controllers for the storage domain of the Group Policy object. A typical Group Policy template folder might look like the following example:

systemroot\Sysvol\SYSVOL\Streetmarket.com\Policies\

{34975054-fd77-df75-54fe-074936850457}

Subfolders of the Group Policy template

The Group Policy template folder contains subfolders, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Adm--Contains all the .adm files for this Group Policy template.

  • Scripts--Contains all the scripts and related files for this Group Policy template.

  • User--Includes a Registry.pol file that contains the registry settings that are to be applied to users. When a user logs on to a computer, this Registry.pol file is downloaded and applied to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER portion of the registry. The User folder contains an Applications subfolder.

  • User\Applications--Contains the application advertisement script files (.aas) that are used by the operating system-based installation service. These files are applied to users.

  • Machine--Includes a Registry.pol file that contains the registry settings that are to be applied to computers. When a computer initializes, this Registry.pol file is downloaded and applied to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE portion of the registry. The Machine folder contains an Applications subfolder.

  • Machine\Applications--Contains the .aas files that are used by the operating system-based installation service. These files are applied to computers.

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