SYSVOL Explained

          Whenever someone asks me ' What is SysVol ?', my answer would be - the folder which stores group policy. 

But is it just a folder ??..Let us find it out.

What is Sysvol ?

Sysvol is a special folder which is available in C:\Windows\SYSVOL directory in all domain controllers within the domain. This special folder contains the domain's Group Policy settings, default profiles and logon/logoff/startup/shutdown scripts. 

When a user login to a client machine, it pulls all the group policy settings and logon scripts available at its local DC's SYSVOL folder. For this reason, this folders keeps on replicating between each other either using DFS-R (Distributed File System Replication Service) or the primitive FRS (File Replication Service).  Sysvol directory can be accessed using :

\\domain-name\SYSVOL or

Contents of SYSVOL

If you access the location C:\Windows\SYSVOL, you will see 4 folders - domain, staging, staging areas & sysvol. 

First we will discuss about, sysvol and domain folders. The folder 'sysvol' is a Junction Point (a kind of soft link) to the folder 'domain'. That means the actual contents will be in 'domain' folder whereas 'sysvol' acts as a fake folder where you could browse as a normal folder. 

Sysvol is the folder where you end up when you access \\domain name\SYSVOL or \\DC name\SYSVOL. This folder contains Policies, scripts & StarterGPOs folders.

Policies folder contains all the group policy objects in the domain. For every new GPOs, a new folder with unique GUID will be created in this folder. These are called Group Policy Templates (GPT).  If you make any changes to a particular group policy, the changes are made  in this folder. Scripts folder contains all scripts used.

Now comes the staging  folder and staging areas.

Staging folder acts like a queue for changed files and folders which needs to be replicated to other sysvols in the domain. This change will be normally due to some group policy changes. In short, the folder will be empty if there are no group policy updates. Once the update is replicated the contents in this folder will be deleted as well.


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