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Windows Server 2016 – Mapping network drives with Group Policy

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Almost everyone uses mapped drives of some flavor in their environments. Creating drive mappings manually as part of a new user start-up process is cumbersome and unnecessary. It is also work that will probably need to be duplicated as users move from one computer to another in the future. If we utilize Group Policy to centralize the creation of these drive mappings, we can ensure that the same users get the same drive mappings wherever they log into the network. Planned correctly, you can enable these mappings to appear on any domain-joined system across the network by the user simply logging in to the computer like they always do. This is a good, simple first task to accomplish within Group Policy to get our feet wet and to learn something that could turn out to be useful in your organization.

Getting ready

We are using a Server 2016 domain controller in our environment in order to create and configure this Group Policy Object. We will assume that you have already created a new GPO for this task that has been configured for Links and Security Filtering.

How to do it…

To create a drive mapping in Group Policy:

  1. Open the Group Policy Management Console from the Tools menu of Server Manager.
  2. Expand the name of your domain and then expand the Group Policy Objects folder. There we see our new GPO called Map Network Drives.
  3. Right-click on the Map Network Drives GPO and click on Edit…:
  1. Navigate to User Configuration | Preferences | Windows Settings | Drive Maps.
  1. Right-click on Drive Maps and choose New | Mapped Drive:
  1. Set Location as the destination URL of the drive mapping, and use the Label as field if you want a more descriptive name to be visible to users.
  2. Choose a Drive Letter to be used for this new mapping from the drop-down menu listed on this screen:
  1. Click OK.
  2. We are assuming you have already created the Links and Security Filtering appropriate to where you want this GPO to apply. If so, you may now log in to a computer on your domain as a user account to which this policy will apply. Once logged into the computer, open up File Explorer and you should see the new network drive mapped automatically during the login process:

How it works…

There are a few different ways that drive mappings can be automated within a Windows environment, and our recipe today outlines one of the quickest ways to accomplish this task. By using Group Policy to automate the creation of our network drive mappings, we can centralize the administration of this task and remove the drive mapping creation load from our helpdesk processes.

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