To modify the most advanced settings on Windows, you need to change the Group Policy Settings. After painstakingly configuring all the required policies, it is better to back up the group policy settings.
The backup helps you restore group policy settings in one go and eliminates the need to remember and modify each policy individually. For example, let’s say you configured a few policies to stop automatic graphics driver updates, restrict wallpaper changing, set up Windows Defender scheduled scan, etc. In case of a catastrophic system failure, upgrade, or re-installation, rather than reconfiguring all the policies manually, you can simply restore group policy settings at once.
Thankfully, it is really easy to back up group policy settings on Windows. This how-to guide shows you the exact steps on how to do it.
Table of contents:
How to Backup Group Policy Settings on Windows
To back up all the group policy settings, you have to copy a couple of folders to the backup destination. In fact, the process is very similar to backing up the Thunderbird profile. Here are the steps to follow:
- Open File Explorer with “Windows key + E.”
- Go to the “C:\Windows\System32” folder.
- Click the View option.
- Select Show and then Hidden Items.
- Copy the GroupPolicy folder.
- Paste it to a backup folder of your choice.
- Close the File Explorer.
- With that, you’ve successfully backed up the Group Policy Settings.
First, open File Explorer by pressing the “Windows key + I” keyboard shortcut. You can also click on the File Explorer icon pinned to the taskbar or search for it in the Start menu.
Once the File Explorer window opens, go to the “C:\Windows\System32” folder. To simplify things, copy the path, paste it into the File Explorer’s address bar, and press Enter on your keyboard. This action will take you to the System32 folder in your C drive.
By default, the folder we want is hidden. To unhide the folder, click on the “View” option and then select the “Show -> Hidden items” option. Windows 10 users click on the “View” tab appearing at the top of the File Explorer and then select the “Hidden items” checkbox.
After unhiding the files and folder, scroll down and find the “GroupPolicy” folder. Next, open the folder and copy all the files and folders in it. Depending on the changes you made to the group policy, you might see a different set of files or folders. So, don’t worry if your folders and files don’t match the below image.
Note: If you don’t see any folders or files in the GroupPolicy directory, then your system may have no modified group policy settings.
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. With that, the group policy settings are backed up. As you can see, it is nothing more than backing up a bunch of folders and files.
How to Restore Group Policy Settings from Backup
You can restore the group policy settings using the backup. Here’s how.
- Open the Group Policy Settings backup folder.
- Copy all the files and folders in it.
- Go to the “C:\Windows\System32\GroupPolicy” folder.
- Paste the copied content into this folder.
- Click the “Replace the files in the destination” option if prompted.
- Click “Continue” in the admin prompt.
- Close the File Explorer after copying the data.
- With that, you’ve restored Group Policy settings from the backup.
First, open the file explorer and go to the location where you’ve saved the group policy settings backup. Once you are here, select those files, right-click, and select “Copy.” You can also press the Ctrl + C keyboard shortcut.
Now, go to the “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.
Since this is a system folder, Windows 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.
Finally, close the File Explorer and reboot your system. With that, the Group Policy settings are restored.
That is it. It is that simple to back up and restore group policy settings in Windows.
I hope this simple and easy backup group policy settings.
If you are stuck or need help, email me, and I will try to help as much as possible.