How to restore Group Policy without GPMC?

A few days ago, IÂ saw this question in a newsgroup. A guy asked for a way to restore a deleted Group Policy. Well, I thought, pretty easy thing, fire up GPMC and restore the GP from a recent backup.

But the poster didn’t mention GPMC. Phew, log time ago when I last did a restore of a Group Policy that way. But here are the steps that you need to perform in order to restore a certain Group Policy (note that you need to know the GP’s former GUID in Active Directory!)

1.) Reboot Windows Server and start it in “Directory Services Restore Mode” by using the F8 key while starting.

2.) Restore Active Directory to a folder on the harddisk.

3.) Reboot the server (in normal mode) and open up “Active Directory Users and Computers”.

4.) Create a new Group Policy at the location where you want to restore the old one. Write down the new Group Policy’s GUID.

5.) Browse to the folder where you restored the System State of Active Directory and open the “Policies\{GUID}” folder, where GUID is the former Group Policy you want to restore.

6.) Copy all folders from that old “Policies\{GUID}” folder to your newly created “Policies\{GUID}” folder (located in Sysvol) – you need to overwrite all files.

That’s it.

If the OP had installed GPMC the only thing he would have had to do was just restore the policy from a backup and re-create the link to the OUs it has been linked to: – GPMC rocks!

2 Comments so far

  1. Gil Kreslavsky on August 20th, 2008

    Nice trick.
    Hope I’ll never need to use it.

  2. Ralf Haan on January 8th, 2010


    It can even be done a lot easier:

    do not reboot the Domain Controller in Active Directory Services Restore mode. We make a backup of the system state every night to a location on our SAN.
    I open Windows back-up on a domain controller and restore the last system state to an alternate path, say C:\temp.
    In GPMC look for the unique ID of the affected GPO. You’ll have to browse the restored folders to look for a folder with the same ID.
    Simply copy and paste the entire folder with the corresponding ID to the correct location in the SYSVOL folder and your’re done!