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Came across a strange issue today. A customer called saying their hosted application shortcuts had disappeared from their hosted desktop.

This was only affecting them and it had only starting this morning. The shortcuts are delivered using Group Policy Preferences along with their drive mappings so the first thing I checked was to see if their drives were being mapped. A lack of drive mappings would indicate an issue with the GPO.  The drives were being mapped OK so the next stop was the event log.  The following event was logged:

Log Name:      Application
Source:        Group Policy Shortcuts
Date:          11/10/2011 13:59:30
Event ID:      8194
Task Category: (2)
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          SYSTEM
Computer:    �
The client-side extension could not remove user policy settings for ‘Policy Name Here {C928243D-09BB-4D45-8BAD-563AA82A02B2} ‘ because it failed with error code ‘0x8007000d The data is invalid.’ See trace file for more details.

A quick Google returned a number of results but the most promising was this one posted by Tom Popov. However there was still some work to do as my issue was to do with shortcuts not power options.

First step was to browse to C:Program DataMicrosoftGroup PolicyHistory. Inside this folder there are is a list of all the group policies with preference settings that are applied to users who log into the server.  There should be a folder with the same GUID ID as the the GUID listed in Event ID 8194. 

Drilling down into this folder reveals a further list of cryptic folders. The list is the SID’s of all the users who log into the server and get the preferences applied to them. In my case the list was a reasonable size (around 25 folders).

Next I had to find the SID for the user who had reported the issue.  The easiest way to do this is using the registry editor.

1. Open Regedit

2. Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersion ProfileList

3. Scroll through the list of SIDs (left hand pane) whilst looking the “ProfileImagePath” in the right hand pane. When you see the user you want. Bingo. Make a note of the last 5 numbers of the SID and return to the Windows Explorer window

Armed with the correct SID I then browsed through the folder structure until I came across Shortcuts.xml. Normally this file contains a list of all possible shortcuts that could be applied through the group policy preferences but for the user in question this file was zero bytes. I simply renamed the file and ran GPUPDATE /Force and the user’s drive maps were restored.