This article, I think, it’s pretty interesting as I’ll show you how to set up a new GPO to prevent users from using PST files in Microsoft Outlook without the need to install any Office ADM Templates.
All the GPO will do is create/modify a few registry keys (one for each version of Microsoft Office). There are two ways, depending on your environment you can choose either one or the other. The first one it’s the cleanest way to do it but it’s only supported from Windows 7 and above (and from Windows Server 2008). The second one it’s a bit more “rusty” as it basically launches a batch file and that’ll do the work. Both worked for me but at the end I chose to use option number 1 as the few XP/Vista machines we have, are about to go.
Note that I want to prevent users from growing their current PST files, this GPO will still allow them to access their existing PST files. I think this is very important. Also, they’ll be allowed to create new PST files and to attach existing ones at a later stage but they won’t be able to modify them (only create subfolders which is kind of useless).
Before showing you the configuration of both the GPOs, I will show you the core of how to prevent users from using PST files in Outlook by creating a new registry key for each Office version. For instance, if you want to deny Outlook 2016 users to add new items to their PST files, all you need to do is create this new registry Key:
And then create a REG_DWORD (value set to 1) named PstDisableGrow. You can do the same with any Office version, I went down to 11.0.
Important: This only works on the HKEY_CURRENT_USER Registry! So you must run it with the end-user account.
You can add these keys with a batch file with just a line for each version [Notice how I used echo Y | – This will skip the confirmation as it’s going to “press” it for you].
echo Y | REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow /t REG_DWORD /d 0001
echo Y | REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow /t REG_DWORD /d 0001
echo Y | REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow /t REG_DWORD /d 0001
echo Y | REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\13.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow /t REG_DWORD /d 0001
echo Y | REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow /t REG_DWORD /d 0001
echo Y | REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow /t REG_DWORD /d 0001
Or remove them once you want to allow the users to fully utilised PST files.
echo Y | REG DELETE HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow
echo Y | REG DELETE HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow
echo Y | REG DELETE HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow
echo Y | REG DELETE HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\13.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow
echo Y | REG DELETE HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow
echo Y | REG DELETE HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\PST /v PstDisableGrow
For both the GPOs, I am creating a group in Active Directory that will contain all users I want to allow PSTs for. Also, both the GPOs have been set to run only on workstations, avoiding Servers:
Option #1 – Using only the standard GPO Editor (From Windows Server 2008+) for Windows 7+ clients.
- Create a new GPO and Edit it – I called it Disable PST Grow.
- Navigate to User Configuration\Prefernces\Windows Settings\Registry.
- Right click on Registry and select New > Registry Item.
- Under Action, select Update. Fill in the rest as per the below screenshot.
If you also want to have an exception group, keep on reading the extra few steps. (more…)