Group Policy is an extremely flexible and complicated tool. One question I am asked quite a bit is, “Can you give me a list of settings I need to enable?” The short answer is No, Microsoft has already enabled the vast majority of things that should be enabled. And while Microsoft’s guidance may change over time (see Offline Files as an example of this), most settings stay the same. There is one setting, however, that is not enabled by default. If you are going to use Group Policy and want to make your troubleshooting life easier, you will want to enable it.
The policy name is “Display highly detailed status messages” and is located at Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/System. This policy was formally known as Verbose Mode and was renamed to keep GP Admins on their toes.
So what is so special about this setting? Let me show you with two pictures:
The picture above is the default message you will receive when starting up or logging on. You will receive a few other messages but they will all be generic (useless). Below is the message you will receive when “Display highly detailed status messages” is enabled.
Wow! That is so much clearer! As you can guess, as soon as folder redirection finishes, the message will change to the next Client Side Extension (CSE) that is being processed. When software is being installed, you will get an exact message showing the specific application being processed. If a CSE hangs up, you will know the exact problem and will know where exactly you need to start troubleshooting.
But wait a second…
If Microsoft has already enabled the vast majority of things that should be enabled, why isn’t this setting enabled? Well, I have two theories on this:
- These messages make starting/logging in ever so slightly slower. I am talking like less than a blink of an eye but it does take additional processing.
- The messages can scare users. Your staff may not like seeing “Applying Security Settings or “Applying Group Policy Printers”.
To me, the benefit of clear messages outweigh both of these drawbacks. In fact, you will start hearing your staff members change their complaints from “My computer is slow” to “Group Policy Printers is slow”. If only Group Policy could have them accurately describe the rest of their problems….
Now that you have some detailed messages, make sure that you can fix the Top 10 Problems with Group Policy and that you’ve taken care of the 3 First Steps in your Group Policy Management Console.