PowerShell hardening and setup script for initial configuration of Windows 10 / Server 2016 or Server 2019
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Michael Reber b3601c2772 Update script for supporting Windows 10 v2004 2 months ago
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README.md

win10-initial-setup-script

PowerShell hardening and setup script for initial configuration of Windows 10 / Server 2016 or Server 2019

Usage

If you just want to run the script with the default preset, download and unpack the master-branch and simply double-click either on the start_client_hardening.cmd file (Best for desktop and notekooks) or start_server_hardening.cmd file (Intended for servers) and confirm User Account Control prompt. Make sure your account is a member of Administrators group as the script attempts to run with elevated privileges.

The script supports command line options and parameters which can help you customize the tweak selection or even add your own custom tweaks, however these features require some basic knowledge of command line usage and PowerShell scripting. Refer to Advanced usage section for more details.

 

Windows builds overview

Version Code name Marketing name Build
1507 Threshold 1 (TH1 / RTM) N/A 10240
1511 Threshold 2 (TH2) November Update 10586
1607 Redstone 1 (RS1) Anniversary Update 14393
1703 Redstone 2 (RS2) Creators Update 15063
1709 Redstone 3 (RS3) Fall Creators Update 16299
1803 Redstone 4 (RS4) April 2018 Update 17134
1809 Redstone 5 (RS5) October 2018 Update 17763
1903 19H1 May 2019 Update 18362

 

Advanced usage

powershell.exe -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File Win10.ps1 [-include filename] [-preset filename] [-log logname] [[!]tweakname]

-include filename       load module with user-defined tweaks
-preset filename        load preset with tweak names to apply
-log logname            save script output to a file
tweakname               apply tweak with this particular name
!tweakname              remove tweak with this particular name from selection

Presets

The tweak library consists of separate idempotent functions, containing one tweak each. The functions can be grouped to presets. Preset is simply a list of function names which should be called. Any function which is not present or is commented in a preset will not be called, thus the corresponding tweak will not be applied. In order for the script to do something, you need to supply at least one tweak library via -include and at least one tweak name, either via -preset or directly as command line argument.

The tweak names can be prefixed with exclamation mark (!) which will instead cause the tweak to be removed from selection. This is useful in cases when you want to apply the whole preset, but omit a few specific tweaks in the current run. Alternatively, you can have a preset which “patches” another preset by adding and removing a small amount of tweaks.

To supply a customized preset, you can either pass the function names directly as arguments.

powershell.exe -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File Win10.ps1 -include Win10.psm1 EnableFirewall EnableDefender

Or you can create a file where you write the function names (one function name per line, no commas or quotes, whitespaces allowed, comments starting with #) and then pass the filename using -preset parameter.
Example of a preset file mypreset.txt:

# Security tweaks
EnableFirewall
EnableDefender

# UI tweaks
ShowKnownExtensions
ShowHiddenFiles   # Only hidden, not system

Command using the preset file above:

powershell.exe -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File Win10.ps1 -include Win10.psm1 -preset mypreset.txt

Includes

The script also supports inclusion of custom tweaks from user-supplied modules passed via -include parameter. The content of the user-supplied module is completely up to the user, however it is strongly recommended to have the tweaks separated in respective functions as the main tweak library has. The user-supplied scripts are loaded into the main script via Import-Module, so the library should ideally be a .psm1 PowerShell module. Example of a user-supplied tweak library mytweaks.psm1:

Function MyTweak1 {
    Write-Output "Running MyTweak1..."
    # Do something
}

Function MyTweak2 {
    Write-Output "Running MyTweak2..."
    # Do something else
}

Command using the script above:

powershell.exe -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File Win10.ps1 -include mytweaks.psm1 MyTweak1 MyTweak2

Combination

All features described above can be combined. You can have a preset which includes both tweaks from the original script and your personal ones. Both -include and -preset options can be used more than once, so you can split your tweaks into groups and then combine them based on your current needs. The -include modules are always imported before the first tweak is applied, so the order of the command line parameters doesn’t matter and neither does the order of the tweaks (except for RequireAdmin, which should always be called first and Restart, which should be always called last). It can happen that some tweaks are applied more than once during a singe run because you have them in multiple presets. That shouldn’t cause any problems as the tweaks are idempotent.
Example of a preset file otherpreset.txt:

MyTweak1
MyTweak2
!ShowHiddenFiles   # Will remove the tweak from selection
WaitForKey

Command using all three examples combined:

powershell.exe -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File Win10.ps1 -include Win10.psm1 -include mytweaks.psm1 -preset mypreset.txt -preset otherpreset.txt Restart

 

Logging

If you’d like to store output from the script execution, you can do so using -log parameter followed by a filename of the log file you want to create. For example:

powershell.exe -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File Win10.ps1 -include Win10.psm1 -preset mypreset.txt -log myoutput.log

The logging is done using PowerShell Start-Transcript cmdlet, which writes extra information about current environment (date, machine and user name, command used for execution etc.) to the beginning of the file and logs both standard output and standard error streams.

 

Contribution guidelines

Following is a list of rules which I’m trying to apply in this project. The rules are not binding and I accept pull requests even if they don’t adhere to them, as long as their purpose and content are clear. In cases when there are too many rule violations, I might simply redo the whole functionality and reject the PR while still crediting you. If you’d like to make my work easier, please consider adhering to the following rules too.

Function naming

Try to give a function a meaningful name up to 25 characters long, which gives away the purpose of the function. Use verbs like Enable/Disable, Show/Hide, Install/Uninstall, Add/Remove in the beginning of the function name. In case the function doesn’t fit any of these verbs, come up with another name, beginning with the verb Set, which indicates what the function does, e.g. SetCurrentNetworkPrivate and SetCurrentNetworkPublic.

Revert functions

Always add a function with opposite name (or equivalent) which reverts the behavior to default. The default is considered freshly installed Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 / 2019 with no adjustments made during or after the installation. If you don’t have access to either of these, create the revert function to the best of your knowledge and I will fill in the rest if necessary.

Function similarities

Check if there isn’t already a function with similar purpose as the one you’re trying to add. As long as the name and objective of the existing function is unchanged, feel free to add your tweak to that function rather than creating a new one.

Function grouping

Try to group functions thematically. There are already several major groups (privacy, security, services etc.), but even within these, some tweaks may be related to each other. In such case, add a new tweak below the existing one and not to the end of the whole group.

Default preset

Always add a reference to the tweak and its revert function in the Default.preset. Add references to both functions on the same line (mind the spaces) and always comment out the revert function. Whether to comment out also the tweak in the default preset is a matter of personal preference. The rule of thumb is that if the tweak makes the system faster, smoother, more secure and less obtrusive, it should be enabled by default. Usability has preference over performance (that’s why e.g. indexing is kept enabled).

Repeatability

Unless applied on unsupported system, all functions have to be applicable repeatedly without any errors. When you’re creating a registry key, always check first if the key doesn’t happen to already exist. When you’re deleting registry value, always append -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue to prevent errors while deleting already deleted values.

Input / output hiding

Suppress all output generated by commands and cmdlets using | Out-Null or -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue where applicable. Whenever an input is needed, use appropriate arguments to suppress the prompt and programmatically provide values for the command to run (e.g. using -Confirm:$false). The only acceptable output is from the Write-Output cmdlets in the beginning of each function and from non-suppressible cmdlets like Remove-AppxPackage.

Registry

Create the registry keys only if they don’t exist on fresh installation if Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 / 2019. When deleting registry, delete only registry values, not the whole keys. When you’re setting registry values, always use Set-ItemProperty instead of New-ItemProperty. When you’re removing registry values, choose either Set-ItemProperty or Remove-ItemProperty to reinstate the same situation as it was on the clean installation. Again, if you don’t know what the original state was, let me know in PR description and I will fill in the gaps. When you need to use HKEY_USERS registry hive, always add following snippet before the registry modification to ensure portability.

If (!(Test-Path "HKU:")) {
    New-PSDrive -Name HKU -PSProvider Registry -Root HKEY_USERS | Out-Null
}

Force usage

Star Wars jokes aside, don’t use -Force option unless absolutely necessary. The only permitted case is when you’re creating a new registry key (not a value) and you need to ensure that all parent keys will be created as well. In such case always check first if the key doesn’t already exist, otherwise you will delete all its existing values.

Comments

Always add a simple comment above the function briefly describing what the function does, especially if it has an ambiguous name or if there is some logic hidden under the hood. If you know that the tweak doesn’t work on some editions of Windows 10 or on Windows Server, state it in the comment too. Add a Write-Output cmdlet with the short description of action also to the first line of the function body, so the user can see what is being executed and which function is the problematic one whenever an error occurs. The comment is written in present simple tense, the Write-Output in present continuous with ellipsis (resp. three dots) at the end.

Coding style

Indent using tabs, enclose all string values in double quotes (") and strictly use PascalCase wherever possible. Put opening curly bracket on the same line as the function name or condition, but leave the closing bracket on a separate line for readability.

Examples

Naming example: Consider function EnableFastMenu. What does it do? Which menu? How fast is fast? A better name might be EnableFastMenuFlyout, so it’s a bit clearer that we’re talking about the menu flyouts delays. But the counterpart function would be DisableFastMenuFlyouts which is not entirely true. We’re not disabling anything, we’re just making it slow again. So even better might be to name them SetFastMenuFlyouts and SetSlowMenuFlyouts. Or better yet, just add the functionality to already existing SetVisualFXPerformance/SetVisualFXAppearance. Even though the names are not 100% match, they aim to tweak similar aspects and operate within the same registry keys.

Coding example: The following code applies most of the rules mentioned above (naming, output hiding, repeatability, force usage, comments and coding style).

# Enable some feature
Function EnableSomeFeature {
    Write-Output "Enabling some feature..."
    If (!(Test-Path "HKLM:\Some\Registry\Key")) {
        New-Item -Path "HKLM:\Some\Registry\Key" -Force | Out-Null
    }
    Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\Some\Registry\Key" -Name "SomeValueName" -Type String -Value "SomeValue"
}

# Disable some feature
Function DisableSomeFeature {
    Write-Output "Disabling some feature..."
    Remove-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\Some\Registry\Key" -Name "SomeValueName" -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
}