Windows is a very big and highly configurable operating system. Generally, most settings can be managed via the settings app or the control panel. However, when it comes to some of the advanced settings like blocking driver updates or disabling Cortana, you are forced to use the Group Policy Editor. The good thing is, the group policy editor is quite easy to use and has a ton of options to micromanage different parts of Windows.
After painstakingly configuring the group policy settings, it is only natural that you want to back it up. The back up allows you to restore the group policy settings as and when needed, like when you reinstall Windows. In this quick post, let me show you how to back up group policy settings in Windows 10 and restore it when needed.
Note: Before proceeding, choose a folder or drive where you'd like to store the backup. As a rule of thumb, choose a folder that isn't in the OS installation driver, i.e. C drive.
Backup Group Policy Settings
To backup Windows 10 group policy settings, all you have to do is copy a couple of folders to the backup destination. In fact, the process is very similar to backing up the Thunderbird profile. Just follow the below steps and you will be golden.
1. First, open the file explorer by pressing the keyboard shortcut Win + I or by clicking on the file explorer icon on the taskbar.
2. In the file explorer, copy the below path, paste it in the address bar and press Enter. This action will take you to the System32 folder in your C drive.
3. By default, the folder we are looking for is hidden. To unhide the folder, click on the "View" tab appearing at the top of the file explorer and then select the "Hidden items" checkbox.
4. Now, scroll down until you find a folder named "GroupPolicy" and double-click on it to open it. Once opened, you will see a couple of folders and files. Depending on what changes you made, you might see different files or folders. So, don't worry if your folders and files didn't match the below image.
Note: If you don't see any folders then it is possible that your system has no modified group policy settings. If that's the case then there is no need to backup group policy settings.
5. Select all the files and folders using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + A and copy them with Ctrl + C.
6. After copying the files and folders, go to the destination folder and paste them with the Ctrl + V shortcut. For instance, I created a new folder called "Group Policy Backup" in the root of my D drive and pasted the copied files there.
That is it. You are done backing up the Windows 10 group policy objects. As you can see, it is nothing more than backing up a bunch of folders and files.
Restore Group Policy Settings
When you want to restore the group policy backup, all you have to do is copy the backed up files and folders and paste them in the original folder.
1. First, open the file explorer and go to the location where you've stored the backed up group policy settings. Once you are here, select all of those files, right-click, and select "Copy".
2. Now, go to C:\Windows\System32\GroupPolicy\ folder and press Ctrl + V keyboard shortcut to paste the earlier copied files and folders. You might see a "Replace or Skip Files" prompt. Click on the "Replace the files in the destination" option.
3. Since this is a system folder, Windows 10 will show the access denied prompt. Simply select the "Do this for all current items" checkbox and click on the "Continue" button. This action will copy the backed up files.
4. Finally, reboot your system and the Group Policy settings will be restored.
That is it. It is that simple to backup and restore group policy settings in Windows 10.
If you like this article, do check out how to stop automatic graphics driver updates in Windows 10 and different ways to lock your Windows 10 PC.