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Use GPOs to specify Windows network access for users

If you properly configure Group Policy Objects (GPOs), you can control which users can access your network and from where they can do it. Learn how to give specific users access to one specific machine in this tip.

Question: I am trying to take a single machine on my Microsoft Windows network and give only specific users access to it. It is impractical to assign every user specific machines to log onto and would be easier to only allow certain users Windows network access to this machine. How would I accomplish this?
-- Question posed by a reader.

Windows networking security expert Wes Noonan offers this response:

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Unfortunately, there is not an easy way to manage Windows network access in this way. Based on your question, I'm guessing you discovered the "Log On To" button in the users properties and then realized you would need to make changes on every user account for every computer you wanted them to be able to log in with. Not a pleasant thought.

Another option is to try using Group Policy Objects (GPOs). Create an organizational unit (OU) for the computer in question, and then add the computer to said OU. Create a group in your Windows network for the users you want to have the ability to log into this computer and add the appropriate users to it. Do not add it to the OU.

Right click on the OU and bring up the properties. Select the Group tab, then create a new GPO by clicking on the New button. Name the GPO accordingly and click Edit.

Expand Computer Configuration, Windows Settings, Security Settings, Local Policies and click on User Rights Assignments. This will bring up the user rights in the right pane.

You are going to want to edit the following policies:

  • Access this computer from the network
  • Allow Logon through Terminal Services
  • Log on locally (may be named Allow log on locally)

You can do this by double clicking on the policy. Check the box "Define these policy settings" and click Add User or Group to add the group you previously defined. Keep in mind that you must grant administrators the right to log on locally (and, in fact, I recommend granting them all of the rights listed).

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