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Use the Group Policy settings reference guide to avoid disruptions

With Windows Server's updates to Group Policy settings and templates comes a danger for administrators: users flooding the help desk with tickets.

Group Policy changes can't occur in a vacuum. Windows Server administrators can use the Group Policy settings reference guide from Microsoft as part of their due diligence before changing systems.

Windows Server 2016 brings new policy templates for systems administrators, who must consider how to take advantage of new settings while minimizing disruptions. The Group Policy settings reference guide helps administrators anticipate how a template will affect a particular system.

Some of the policies introduced by Windows Server 2016 include a number of application management group policies, which may be of particular interest to administrators who want to use Group Policy to manage mobile devices. Administrators also have new Group Policy settings that address security concerns, such as the grouppolicy.admx template that prevents programs from loading untrusted fonts.

Active Directory is another area that may require some modification when applying a Group Policy setting. At its core, Active Directory is a database composed of structured entries. Ideally, the AD schema should hold all the data the organization needs to store, but there are times when administrators need to extend the schema to accommodate additional Active Directory data. For example, some Group Policy settings require an extended Active Directory schema. Fine-grained password policies, deploying BitLocker and a Trusted Platform Module, wireless group policy settings and other scenarios benefit from the extended AD schema.

Some Group Policy settings are not applied until the user logs off and logs in, while other policy settings demand a restart to apply the changes. Neither process is likely to take long, but can disrupt workloads and cause downtime or user disruption. For example, software distribution settings typically require both a logoff and a restart to apply changes. Administrators can check the Group Policy settings reference spreadsheet from Microsoft to determine the effect of a new policy setting and plan for potential disruptions accordingly. These settings include corresponding policy paths and registry information.

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