If you’re in the Group Policy Management Console a lot like I have been the past few weeks, you can save some time using Starter GPOs. Starter GPOs act as templates for configured settings that you will want to use repeatedly. In my instance, I created a starter GPO for “Managed Labs”. Now, when I create a GPO for a new lab I can choose this starter GPO to start off the template and it saves me a lot of time to go through each setting or to manually duplicate the policies that have been decided for our labs.
To create your first Starter GPO, you drill down to the domain and you’ll find an area for Starter GPOs. If you don’t have any Starter GPOs, when you select the area you’ll see a button saying “Create Starter GPOs Folder”. You can just click that button and you’re all set to begin. The process creates a folder called StarterGPOs in the SYSVOL folder of your domain controller.
Once you have the Starter GPOs folder created, you will start off with a number of base templates. You can just right-click and choose to create a New Starter GPO. Your creations will be labeled as Custom while the base templates are listed as System. From that pane, you can also right-click and choose to back up your Starter GPOs or Manage backups.
When you right-click and create a new Starter GPO, you name it and then you can right-click and edit it like a normal GPO. The only difference will be that your editor will be special and named ‘Group Policy Starter GPO Editor’. It only allows you to configure the Administrative Template policies under the Computer Configuration and User Configuration of the policy. The Starter GPOs will also make use of any customer Administrative Templates you added to the Group Policy Central Store on your domain.
Next time you create a new GPO, you can choose to start it with your template settings and all those configurations will carry over to the new GPO but can be edited for that individual use. It’s just an improved way to start off the process and not have to go through the settings repeatedly to track down all the settings.
Just using it a few times already recently has saved me a load of time. I definitely recommend investigating Starter GPOs to see if they fit your needs and can be a good way to delegate Group Policy management responsibilities to others that are just beginning to learn the possibilities but you want to empower them to administer an OU.
For more information, check these two articles from TechNet: