One of Windows 2008 Active Directory’s most under-utilized features is the ability to precisely target computers with Group Policy Preferences. Group Policy Preferences are different than traditional policy settings because they can be reversed by a user and not reapplied when Group Policy is refreshed. Windows 2008, Vista, and Windows 7 all have special Client Side Extensions (CSEs) for preference settings. You can download KB943729 from the Microsoft Download Center to retrofit Windows XP.
There are many preference settings available. One of the most widely used maps network drives for users, which is usually done by scripts that run when a user logs on. The Group Policy Drive Maps Preference with item-level targeting is easier to create than a script and has more configurable options.
To create a Group Policy with a Drive Map Preference:
- Open the Group Policy Management Console and expand the Forest and Domain nodes
- Expand the Computer Configuration\Preferences\Windows Settings node
- Select Drive Maps then “New”>“Mapped Drive”, and a New Drive Properties window will open
- In the window’s General tab, select “Create” from the drop down menu next to the “Action” label
- In the “Location” text box, type the UNC path to the network share location using the \\Servername\Sharename format. You can specify a drive letter or allow Windows to use the next available letter and input alternate user accounts credentials to connect the drive
- Now that the basic drive map is complete, select the “Common” tab, and check the box for Item-Level targeting
- Click on the “Targeting” button, and a new Targeting Editor window will appear
- In the “New Item” drop down list, select “User”, and a text box will appear
- Enter the user’s name for the drive mapping. The * wildcard character can be used to specify multiple users
Link the Group Policy to the user accounts location in Active Directory, and the drive will be mapped at the next logon. You can map multiple drives to multiple users in a single GPO, and that GPO can be applied to other Preferences such as Network Printers.