Group Policy Preferences in a non-persistent VDI environment

Group Policy preferences could be perceived as a poor mans user environment management but it is actually quite good. Because of the architecture though it is important to beware of how to deal with Group Policy Preferences in a non-persistent VDI environment. This article explains how.

Using Group Policy preferences (GPP) is a great way to configure computer and user settings like mapped drives, printers, scheduled tasks, services, and Start menu settings. However, when using GPP in a non-persistent VDI environment, you have to be careful with one specific feature.

When redirecting the start menu to a network location (because you allow users to add their own shortcuts to the start menu or desktop) or when using roaming profiles. In these situations shortcuts will not be removed on a non-persistent desktop when the GPP doesn’t apply to the user anymore. Why? Because the setting “Remove this item when it is no longer applied” uses the group policy history file which is located in the %commonappdata% directory. This directory is located in the All users\Appdata (XP) or c:\Programdata (windows 7) and changes to this directory are deleted when a user logs off from a non-persistent desktop.

And this is not only a problem with shortcuts, but also other settings that can be applied with Group Policy Preferences, like registry settings. For example, if you want to set a user registry setting and you use roaming profiles, the registry setting will be saved in the roaming user profile. But when you use the setting “Remove this item when it is no longer applied“, and you remove the user from the scope of this registry setting, this registry key will not be removed because it isn’t located in the GPP history file.


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