Group Policy Preference Drive Maps closing

I’ve been dealing with an issue where users that leave Windows File Explorer windows open for extended periods find that they close now and then.

This seems to be a common problem with later versions of Windows (8.1, 10) and is caused by the Replace setting being used on the Group Policy Preference Drive Map.

The File Explorer windows close because Replace causes the drive map to be removed and re-added. You want to use Replace because you also want to use the option to Remove this item when it is no longer applied. And also because Update will not change a drive mapping that has been done manually by a user.

Part of the fix is to set the following group policy:

Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/System/Group Policy/Configure Drive Maps preference extension policy processing
Allow processing across a slow network connection: Enabled
Process even if the Group Policy objects have not changed: Disabled
Background priority: Idle

The key setting being Process even if the Group Policy objects have not changed, set to Disabled.

This will stop File Explorer closing on every group policy refresh.

This is only part of the solution though. You might think that this would cause the drive maps preference to only be processed if a drive map preference within the GPO has changed. That would seem sensible, right? Well, no. If you have other stuff in the GPO, and any of that changes, the drive maps will still be processed (i.e. removed and re-added) even though they’ve not changed.

You can see this by looking in Event Viewer, in the Microsoft-Windows-GroupPolicy/Operational log, and information event 4016. The text will say:

Starting Group Policy Drive Maps Extension Processing. 

List of applicable Group Policy objects: (Changes were detected.)

Your GPO Name

So what I’ve now done is to move my GP Pref drive mappings into a dedicated GPO, which I’ll hardly ever have to change. Thus the group policy engine will hardly ever detect any changes, and thus users will hardly ever see their File Explorer windows closing.

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