Microsoft Management Consoles (MMCs) are a collection of different snap-ins used by systems and network administrators to configure rules and policies on a computer. An integral part of these consoles is the Group Policy Policy Console. If part of an organization, these can also be implemented throughout the domain.
However, individuals nowadays also want to manage their computers at home and work without an Active Directory (AD) on their Windows computers. It can become hectic to implement the same policies individually on each device.
This is where you can configure the Group Policy Objects (GPOs) on a single computer, and then implement those configurations on other computers by exporting them from the source computer and then importing them on the target/destination computer.
This article discusses how to export/backup these Group Policies from one Windows computer, and then import them to another.
Note: The Home Edition of Windows does not come with a Group Policy Editor. Learn how to install Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) in Windows 11 and Windows 10 Home editions.
The methods to backup (import) and restore (import) the Group Policy settings apply to Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows 7. However, it requires you to be logged in from an administrator account on both the source and destination computers.
Export and Import Group Policy Settings Using File Explorer
One of the methods is simply copying the group policy files from one PC to another. However, for this method to work, it is imperative that both operating systems are alike. You cannot export the policy settings from one Operating System version to another.
You can check your OS edition and build by typing in winver in Run.
Perform the following steps to export the Group Policy settings from a Windows computer:
- Open File Explorer and paste the following path into the navigation bar at the top.
- Copy all the files here and move them to the destination computer, where you want to implement the same policies.
- On the destination computer, paste the following path into the navigation bar in the Explorer.
- Here, paste the files copied from the source PC. You will be asked for administrative permissions; click Continue.
- Once the files are pasted, open the Command Prompt with administrative privileges and enter the following command for the changes to take effect.
The new Group Policies will now be implemented on the target computer.
Export and Import Group Policy Settings Through Microsoft Management Console
Another method to export the Group Policy files from one computer and then import them on another is through the Microsoft Management Console. Follow the steps below to do so:
- Open the Microsoft management Console by typing in mmc in Run.
- From the console, click File from the top menu and then click Add/Remove snap-in.
- From the pop-up, select Security Templates under “Available Snap-ins” and then click Add. Once added, click OK.
- Now expland Security Templates from the left pane and right-click on the element under it. From the context menu, click New Template.
- In the popup, enter a custom name for the template.
- Now expand the template you have created in the left pane and begin configuring your policies.
- Once done, it is now time to save the template. Right-click on the template you created from the left pane and click Save as from the context menu.
- From the popup, browse to the location where you want to save the file and click Save. An INF file will now be saved.
- Now move the saved .INF file to the destination PC where you want to implement the same policies.
- Now launch Command Prompt with administrative privileges and use the following cmdlet to import the .INF file. Replace PathToINF with the complete path to where the INF file is located:
secedit /configure /db %temp%\temp.sdb /cfg <em>PathToINF</em>
- Now restart the PC for the changes to take effect.
Export import GPO settings from one domain to another
Depending upon the Domain Controller version, you will need to follow similar steps to export import GPO settings from one domain to another:
- Start GPMC on the source domain controller
- Expand the Group Policy Objects folder
- Select the policy you wish to move
- Click Backup
- Transfer the backup file to the destination domain controller
- Start GPMC on the destination domain controller
- Expand the Group Policy Objects folder
- Right-click and select Import Settings
These are the methods you can apply the same policies on different computers without having to navigate to each Group Policy on each computer individually.
This is especially helpful for those who have multiple computers to manage but do not want to get into the hassle of configuring an entire domain in their environment.