How to reduce the Group Policy refresh interval

Group Policy refreshes computer accounts on a default schedule of 90 minutes. Rick Vanover shows ways to reduce this schedule when necessary.

Group Policy is a great way to deploy settings to users and computers centrally — unless you wind up waiting for the updates. The default interval to update the Group Policy to a computer account is 90 minutes; further, there is an offset of 0-30 minutes. While this schedule is fine for most situations, there may be times when you need to make it shorter for quick updates.

There are various ways to shorten the Group Policy refresh interval. But be careful when you make these changes because it will increase the traffic from domain controllers to computer accounts.

One approach is to have the server computer accounts receive a tighter refresh policy, with the assumption that there are fewer servers than client computers. The refresh interval is defined in Group Policy in the Policies | Administrative Templates | System | Group Policy section in a value called Group Policy Refresh For Computers (Figure A). After the Group Policy Refresh For Computers value is selected, it is represented in minutes that will determine how frequently the computer accounts will try to update the policy. Figure A

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Another option is the offset labeled Random Time Added. The offset is important because it ensures that the domain controllers don't get perpetually bamboozled with request for updates. Figure B has a tightened value for the update refresh interval. Figure B

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A good approach is to tighten the update interval when a number of frequent changes need to be deployed, such as after a move or a major system update. But consider whether a tighter interval is needed, especially because in most cases the updates do not retrieve a new configuration for the computer account. On the other hand, large environments may want to make this interval much larger when thousands of computer accounts may be in use.

How have you adjusted the computer account refresh value? Share your comments in the discussion.


Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

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