system policy

Definition of system policy in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is system policy?

A file that applies a set of rules to a computer or set of computers to restrict what users or groups of users can see and do on their workstations. System policies are included as an administrative feature on the Microsoft Windows NT operating system platform for helping administrators lock down the desktop configuration of Microsoft Windows NT Workstation, Windows 98, and Windows 95 clients. On the Microsoft Windows 2000 platform, a more advanced feature called Group Policy is implemented, which is integrated with Active Directory.

How It Works

System policies work by overwriting specific registry keys on the computers they are applied to. To apply a system policy to computers in a Windows NT domain, put the ntconfig.pol file in the NetLogon Share on the primary domain controller (PDC) and use the Directory Replicator Service to replicate the file to other domain controllers. When users log on to the network, the system policy file is downloaded and applied to their Windows NT workstations.

You can create system policy files for Windows NT Workstation clients by using the administrative tool System Policy Editor. A system policy file created this way is usually named ntconfig.pol.


If users have Windows 95 or Windows 98 clients, use poledit.exe to create a config.pol file and place this in the NetLogon Share, as just described. System policy files created for Windows 95 and Windows 98 clients are usually named config.pol. If you have a mix of Windows NT, Windows 95, and Windows 98 clients on the network, you must create both an ntconfig.pol file and a config.pol file and store them in the NetLogon Share on the PDC.

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