Updating Windows Group Policies


To ease the administration of our Windows desktops, many of their configurations are controlled centrally through Active Directory Group Policy Objects (GPOs). These also allow for pre-prepared software to be remotely installed without the intervention of the IT administrators.

The GPOs affecting a certain system are automatically updated by Active Directory several times a day, but sometimes it is necessary to precipitate an update due to its urgency or importance. Some GPOs, like the ones installing software, are only applied when the system is restarted (rebooted), so this update process will require a reboot or your system.

This page will explain how to perform a GPO update of your Departmental Windows XP or Windows 7 desktop (other systems, like Linux desktops, laptops, or Windows systems not managed by IT, cannot do this, so you can ignore this page).

How to update Windows XP Group Policies

  • On your Windows XP desktop, close all open programs and applications (this process will require a reboot and you do not want to lose any unsaved data)
  • Open a Command Prompt window (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt)
Command Prompt

  • Type in the command "gpupdate /force"
gpupdate command

  • Press Enter
  • The initial part of the GPO update will take between 5 and 30 seconds
  • Once the initial part of the update has been performed, you will be asked if you want to reboot your system
Asking for reboot

  • Type in "Y" to accept
Please reboot

  • Press Enter to start the reboot
  • The system will log you out and then reboot the desktop (do not turn the computer off during this process)

The system will take longer to boot up during a GPO update since it will be polling Active Directory for all GPOs affecting it. If software is being installed during the update, this will be shown in the Windows booting screen and could take up to 10 minutes. After the update you should be able to log in and continue your work.

How to update Windows 7 Group Policies

The process to update the Group Policies on a Departmental Windows 7 desktop is identical to the previous one except that the command to use is "gpupdate /force /boot". After this, the system will wait for 1 minute before rebooting.


If you expect the update to install software and this has not happened when you log in after the reboot, please contact ithelp@stats.ox.ac.uk as the installation may need to be done manually. Some systems do not activate their network cards until after the GPO polling stage, and hence the update does not occur.