The Processing of Group Policy Failed: 8 Solutions to the Error


Group Policy is at the center of a network administrator’s job. With Group Policy, network administrators can set security rules and policies for all users and computers within the system. If you are experiencing a group policy update error stating that “the processing of group policy failed,” this guide is here to help. 

The processing of Group Policy failed error message

What is Group Policy? 

Group Policy is the hierarchical management and configuration infrastructure included with Microsoft operating systems that control user and computer accounts. Group Policy settings allow a network administrator to protect the entire network ecosystem against internal and external cybersecurity threats. IT administrators use the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) to make policy changes. Group Policy can be completely managed within GPMC, which consists of the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Group Policy Editor and programmable interfaces. 

Nearly all organizations will use a centralized Group Policy combined with Active Directory (AD). Active Directory is Microsoft’s directory services, made up of objects that can be users, applications, devices, and groups. Network administrators use Active Directory to organize a business’s digital assets and network. For example, they can decide which users and devices have access to different areas of the network. 

AD typically has four levels of organization, or containers in which users and computers can be placed into:

  1. Local computer
  2. Physical Site
  3. Domain
  4. Organizational Unit (OU)

Servers and workstations are members of one domain and located within one site. 

Without Group Policy and Active Directory, there would be chaos. Users and devices would have access to the full network. When users have broad access across a network, sensitive information is much more vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

Group Policy Objects (GPOs)

Group Policy settings can be grouped together to form a Group Policy Object or GPO. A Group Policy Object defines the system rules and policies for a defined group of users. 

Each GPO has a user configuration and a computer configuration. GPO settings include software settings, administrative templates, and Windows settings. The computer configuration will remain the same across all users on that computer. 

GPOs for computers are applied each time the computer boots, while GPOs for users are applied when a user’s credentials are verified during login.

Create new GPO

What causes the processing of group policy failed error?

Most likely, you’ve run into this Group Policy error message when trying to use the gpupdate /force command. 

The processing of group policy failed error has been observed on Windows 10, 8, and 7 and on Windows Server 2016, 2012 R2, and 2008 R2. There are a handful of known causes behind this error following a failed gpupdate /force command. If you’re uncertain if your Group Policy issues fall into this category, check your Event Viewer. Event IDs associated with this error code include 1030, 1053, 1054, and 1058. 

If you check the Event Viewer, the Event String may read something very similar to this message:

“The processing of Group Policy failed. Windows attempted to read the file %9 from a domain controller and was not successful. Group Policy settings may not be applied until this event is resolved. This issue may be transient and could be caused by one or more of the following: a) Name Resolution/Network Connectivity to the current domain controller. b) File Replication Service Latency (a file created on another domain controller has not replicated to the current domain controller). c) The Distributed File System (DFS) client has been disabled.”

The main causes outlined in the error message are:

  • No Network Connectivity to Domain Controller
  • Name Resolution issues with Domain Controller
  • File Replication Service Latency 
  • Disabled Distributed File System (DFS)

8 solutions to fix the processing of Group Policy failed error

1. Check the gpt.ini file on Domain Controller (DC)

Your domain controller should contain the following file:

\\domain.local\SysVol\domain.local\Policies\{Policy_GUID}\gpt.ini 

If you cannot locate this file on your DC, then the Group Policy Object has been corrupted. Therefore, you need to identify the GPO and recreate the policy or restore it from a backup. If neither of these options is possible, you must restore the default policy settings and work on rebuilding the GPOs. 

  1. You can locate the gpt.ini file by accessing the folder address above. You just need to insert the Policy_GUID for your GPO. 
  2. To find your GUID, open Powershell in Administrator mode using Windows Search. Enter the following command:
    Get-GPO -id {Policy_GUID}|select DisplayName
  3. Recreate the policy or copy it from another DC.
  4. If policy files are missing from all DCs, you will need to try to restore them from a backup. Alternatively, you can use dcgpofix commands to restore policy settings to their defaults:
    • To reset the default domain GPO, use the following command:
      dcgpofix /target:Domain
    • To reset the default domain controllers GPO, use the following command:
      dcgpofix /target:DC
    • You can reset both the default domain and domain controller GPOs using the following command:
      dcgpofix /target:both

Note that default GPOs have specified GUIDs that are always the same:

  • Domain GPO GUID {31B2F340-016D-11D2-945F-00C04FB984F9}
  • DC GPO GUID {6AC1786C-016F-11D2-945F-00C04FB984F9}

2. Restore network connectivity to the domain controller

Sometimes the processing of group policy failed error can be traced back to network connectivity issues with the domain controller. To restore network connectivity, you will need to access the Local Security Policy and User Rights Assignment to add a new user or group. Follow the steps below to walk through this process:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open Run. Or click the Start button and type “Run” into the search box, then click Open to start the application.
  2. Within the Run window, enter “secpol.msc” and press OK.
Run secpol.msc
  1. The Local Security Policy window will open. If you receive an error that Windows cannot find secpol.msc, then your version of Windows does not have access by default.
Local security policy
  1. In the navigation pane on the left-hand side, look for Security Settings. Find Local Policies and double-click to expand. Then double-click on User Rights Assignment
  2. Now on the right-hand side, under Policy, find Access this computer from the network and double-click on it. 
Access this computer from the network
  1. The “Access this computer from the network Properties” window will open. Click “Add User or Group…” and follow the prompts. Once you’ve added a user or group, click OK. Now you can try to process the Group Policy again to see if the error persists.
Adding the User or Group can help fixing the processing of Group Policy failed error

3. SYSVOL folder corruption or journal wrapping error

We’re going to revisit the Event Viewer logs we mentioned earlier. If the Event Viewer logs indicate a Journal Wrapping error, JRNL_WRAP_ERROR, this may be causing failure when applying the Group Policy. The Journal Wrapping error will cause File Replication Services to fail on the domain controllers. Essentially, this means that the SYSVOL folder is corrupted. 

The error that will appear in the logs looks like this:

The File Replication Service has detected that the replica set “DOMAIN SYSTEM VOLUME(SYSVOL SHARE)” is in JRNL_WRAP_ERROR

JRNL_WRAP_ERROR

You can verify SYSVOL folder corruption by comparing the following folder contents with that of another domain controller. Just replace \DC_name\ with the name of the DC controller of interest to you:

\\DC_name\sysvol\domain.local\Policies

Microsoft has recommended a solution to SYSVOL folder corruption. According to Microsoft, you can synchronize the SYSVOL folder with the SYSVOL folder from another, non-corrupt domain controller. Follow these steps to try this solution:

  1. Click the Start button and search for “Registry Editor”. Click Run as administrator to open.
Search Registry Editor
  1. Enter the following registry key location into the address bar under the Registry Editor main menu:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\NtFrs\Parameters;
NTFRS parameters
  1. Change/create a registry key named Enable Journal Wrap Automatic Restore. Set its value to 1.
  2. Next, restart the NTFRS service with the following command:
    net stop ntfrs && net start ntfrs
  3. Now check the File Replication Service log to make sure the following Event IDs consistently appear:
    • Event ID 13553: The File Replication Service successfully added this computer to the following replica set: “DOMAIN SYSTEM VOLUME (SYSVOL SHARE)”;
    • Event ID 13554 — The File Replication Service successfully added the connections shown below to the replica set: “DOMAIN SYSTEM VOLUME (SYSVOL SHARE)”;
Event ID 13553
Event ID 13554
  1. Wait patiently for the following Event ID, following successful replication:
    • Event ID 13516: The File Replication Service is no longer preventing the computer DC from becoming a domain controller. The system volume has been successfully initialized and the Netlogon service has been notified that the system volume is now ready to be shared as SYSVOL;
Event ID 13516
  1. Go back to the Registry Editor and navigate to the same registry location as before. Change the value Enable Journal Wrap Automatic Restore to 0.
  2. Ensure both SYSVOL and Netlogon are accessible on the DC.

4. Set TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper to automatic 

Some legacy systems need the help of TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper. The NetBIOS over TCP/IP protocols allows the NetBIOS API to be used on TCP/IP networks. If TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper is not running, this can cause issues when applying a Group Policy. 

NetBIOS has some security concerns to consider, but if you are comfortable, you can make sure it’s running. To set TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper to automatic, follow the steps below: 

  1. Click the Start button and type “Services” into the search bar. Select Run as administrator to open.
Search Services app
  1. In the Services window, search the list on the right-hand side for TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper.
Services main screen
  1. Check the Status of the TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper to see if it’s Running. Then right-click on the TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper item and select Properties from the drop-down menu. 
  2. Within the settings, select the General tab. Find Startup type and set it to Automatic.
Automatically starting Netbios Helper can fix the processing of Group Policy failed error
  1. Restart your system and check to see if you can now successfully apply a Group Policy.  

5. Check the DNS server (domain controller)

The processing of Group Policy failed error may be related to a DNS issue. You can use the nslookup command line tool to ping the DNS server (usually this is a domain controller) to check that it’s functioning. 

  1. To locate the name of your domain controller, use the following command:
    systeminfo | find “Logon Server”

    In our example, the domain controller name is xxx-dc01. Your output will look something like this:
    Logon Server:               \\B     xxx-dc01

    If you receive an output of N/A, you cannot access your DC.

  2. Now you can substitute your domain controller name for dc-name with the following commands:
    1. Ping dc-name
    2. Nslookup xxx-dc01
  3. Next, it’s time to try to reset the DNS cache by entering:
    ipconfig /flushdns
  4. Now, you’re going to check if the domain controller is available using Remote Procedure Call, also known as RPC protocol. Substitute in your domain name for domain-name:
    nltest /dsgetdc:domain-name

    This should output something similar to this picture, ending with “The command completed successfully”:

nltest should complete successfully
  1. Next, you should check the domain controller’s network folders. Press the Windows button + R to open the Run application.
  2. Enter the name of your domain in the search bar. Using the earlier example, \\xxx-dc01, below. Press OK:
Run \\dc01
  1. You should now see a list of folders on your domain controller. Check for NetLogon and SYSVOL folders.
NetLogon and Sysvol folders on domain controller

6. Resolve computer name

Let’s look at another Event Viewer error that is associated with the processing of Group Policy failed error. The Event ID is 1055 with the following error message:

The processing of Group Policy failed. Windows could not resolve the computer name. This could be caused by one or more of the following:

a) Name Resolution failure on the current domain controller.

b) Active Directory Replication Latency (an account created on another domain controller has not replicated to the current domain controller).

The error description also displays the following error code:

ErrorCode 1331
Logon failure: account currently disabled.

To fix this Event ID error and ErrorCode 1331, you can verify that your computer’s account is found in the Active Directory. Among the management tools provided by Microsoft Management Console is the Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC). This tool is used for managing users, groups, OUs, and computers in the AD domain. You will be using this tool to make sure your computer’s account is enabled. Continue following these steps to walk through this process: 

  1. Click the Start button and enter “Command Prompt” into the search bar. Select Run as administrator to open.
Run Command Prompt as administrator
  1. In the Command Prompt window, enter the command:
    hostname 

    The command prompt will display the hostname of your machine without the domain.

  2. Next, open the Active Directory Users and Computers console (dsa.msc) console. Follow the ADUC link if you need any help installing dsa.msc. You can install dsa.msc from the command prompt.
  3. Locate your computer account by the hostname. Check that it’s enabled. If your computer account is not enabled, you should right-click on it and select Enable account.

7. Reset the secure channel

Your computer needs to authenticate with the domain controller, or you will get an “Access Denied” error. This error is associated with the processing of Group Policy failed error when applying a Group Policy update. Your computer can’t authenticate if there is a problem with the secure channel. You can reset the secure channel between the computer and the Active Directory domain controller using the following steps:

  1. Run the Test-Computer Secure Channel cmdlet from Powershell or Command Prompt by entering the command:
    Test-Computer Secure Channel -Verbose
  2. Powershell will read out something similar to:
    VERBOSE: Performing operation “Test-ComputerSecureChannel” on Target “SERVER01”.
    True
    VERBOSE: “The secure channel between ‘SERVER01’ and ‘net.fabrikam.com’ is alive and working correctly.”

    If the channel is not working correctly (False response), continue to step 3. 

  3. Enter the following command to reset the secure channel:
    Reset-ComputerMachinePassword -Server dc2 -Credential corp\domain_admin_account

8. Restart the Domain Controller

If you find an Event ID of 1086, restart the domain controller. You can find the DC in question in the $env:LOGONSERVER environment variable. 

Rebooting domain controllers is good practice anyway because these servers provide vital authentication and security services. 

The processing of Group Policy failed error fixed

The processing of Group Policy failed is a bothersome error that can trouble junior IT administrators. This error can occur for multiple reasons when trying to apply Group Policy updates. 

Many Event Viewer IDs are related to this error, and we’ve covered quite a few in this guide. You will know you have solved the processing of group policy failed error when the gpupdate /force command successfully executes with the following results:

GPUpdate force command successfully completed once the processing of Group Policy failed error is resolved

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