Traditionally, Microsoft has allowed its Windows users to choose whether they want to receive updates or not but that is yet another thing that has changed with Windows 10. In the latest version of its operating system, Microsoft has opted for a mandatory update system like the ones found in OS X and most (if not all) of the modern browsers. A lot of users, including myself, are less than happy about this change as Windows Updates are not exactly known for their stability. Depending on your Windows 10 edition, there are several methods you can use to stop the automatic updates.
Note: Choosing to manually install updates may put your computer at risk. Security updates should be installed as soon as possible otherwise you leave your computer vulnerable to malicious attacks. Proceed with caution and think about it carefully.
Prevent automatic updates via setting a metered connection
This option is available to all users but those with Home editions of Windows 10 are likely to benefit the most. Since Windows 8, Microsoft has allowed users to set their connections as “metered” so that apps are forced to stop downloading data in the background as there are a lot of people out there who are on plans with limited data. The good news for us is that being on a metered connections means that Windows Update will stop downloading items automatically. Instead, going to the Windows Update menu will inform you that updates are available and they will be downloaded once you connect to a Wi-Fi connection. You will also find a button that will let you download updates whenever you want even though “charges may apply”. And yes, this is a trick that may be fixed in the long run but for not, this is your best bet.
To set your connection as a metered one, go to Settings > Network & Internet and click on the Advanced options link underneath the list of your internet connections. Turn the “Set as metered connection” toggle on and it will instantly apply to the network you are currently signed into. The setting will be applied immediately so wait a while until a Windows Update becomes available and go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update to see what I am talking about.
Prevent automatic updates via a Group Policy
This option is only available in Professional, Enterprise and Education editions as you will need to access the Local Group Policy Editor which does not exist in the Home edition.
1. To open the Local Group Policy Editor, type gpedit.msc into your Start Menu and press Enter.
2. Using the panel in the left side, navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Configuration > Windows Updates.
3. Find the setting that reads Configure Automatic Updates and double click on it.
4. Set its status to “Enabled” and then select the exact setting you prefer. There are several options you can choose from here like being notified to both download and install updates or allowing the system to automatically download updates but notify you for the installation.
5. The Group Policy settings are applied automatically but you may need to go to Windows Update and click on the “Check for Updates” button in order to force it before the next system restart. Windows Update will most likely display a message that some of the settings are “managed by your organization” and it will not let you change some of the settings from its main interface anymore.
Block automatic updates via the Registry
Like with most other Group Policies, the same changes can be applied via the Registry if you are so inclined. The difference here is that the changes cannot be applied to Home users.
1. Open the Registry Editor by typing regedit.exe in your Start menu and pressing the Enter key.
2. Use the left side panel to navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU. You might need to create some of these keys manually.
3. With the AU key selected, right click on an empty side of the panel on the right side and create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value named AUOptions. There are three different values you can use here:
- 2 (Notify for download and notify for install)
- 3 (Auto download and notify for install)
- 4 (Auto download and schedule the install)
Enter the value that you want, save your settings and close the Registry Editor. The same concept that applied to Group Policy holds true here as well so you may need to manually Check for Updates once before the system notes the change.
Prevent the download and installation of specific updates and drivers
If you run into any trouble with a Windows Update item, the service may still insist on offering that specific update. Microsoft does not offer a way to block these updates with built-in Windows 10 tools but it does offer a troubleshooter for this exact job which you can download here. Run the troubleshooter and it will automatically search for currently available updates. Select the ones that are causing you trouble and click on Next to hide and block them. If you want to install them in the future, run the troubleshooter again and reveal them once more.
Stop Windows Update from automatically rebooting your computer
Now that you know about all the available options, there is a pretty good chance that you have chosen a setting which will not automatically download updates. But if you keep the same system then you should know that the Windows 10 version of Update really likes to automatically restart your computer after it installs updates. The way it works is that the OS will try to find a time where you will not really use your computer and it will restart it then, provided that you do not have any apps open with data that may be lost. This goes on for two days, after which Windows Update will really want to restart your system as soon as possible.
Instead of letting the OS choose for itself, users can also opt to schedule their reboots manually. Unlike previous versions, Windows Update will not tell you that a restart is required with a notification so you just need to make sure it restarts your computer at a convenient time for you. Or you can just manually restart your system if you see that a Windows Update has been installed to avoid all this scheduling nonsense.
To change the way updates are installed, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and select the Advanced options link. Choose the option that reads Notify to schedule restart from the dropdown menu and you are done.