The times when Microsoft allowed almost every user to block updates (even those critical updates that contained security patches) are long gone. With the introduction of the latest version of its operating system (Windows 10), Microsoft finally made the great leap to automate the Windows Update process with most users losing certain privileges.
How can I stop Windows 10 updates?
You probably have asked yourself this question at some point. Given how the automatic Windows Update setup in Windows 10 sometimes interrupts you when you are about to do some critical task, it only logical that you thought of a way to prevent such unwanted scenarios from ever occurring.
Or maybe, you are not even worried by the unexpected interruptions. Perhaps, you got to know of the data loss suffered by some users after their PCs downloaded and installed the Windows 10 October 2018 update, and you, understandably, do not want to experience the same fate as the affected folks.
Microsoft—after learning that the recent Windows 10 Update deleted users data in an undisclosed number of cases—moved to put the update on hold. Nevertheless, the damage was already done—users affected by the update stated they could not retrieve their files, documents, pictures, and other items that had been deleted.
To this end, it is imperative you learn how to avoid problems after Windows updates. This way, you can delay updates (when necessary) and prevent issues or complications associated with the early installation of Windows 10 updates.
Note: We do not recommend that you block updates completely. They are far too valuable as regards what they provide: the security patches, bug fixes, and new features or functionalities. What you can do, and should do, however, is determine when your system gets to download or install them.
How to manage updates on Windows 10?
The tools or options available for controlling Windows Update operations largely depend on what edition of Windows 10 your PC is running. We believe the vast majority of users have computers equipped with the Windows 10 Home edition, which is the simplest and cheapest of the iterations available. Windows 10 Pro, however, is a significant upgrade on the Home edition, and this fact is reflected in their prices.
Consequently, Windows 10 Pro offers users the option of deferring Windows updates for a very long period. Such privileges are not afforded to computers running Windows 10 Home. Microsoft intends for computers with the Home edition of Windows 10 to get Windows updates as soon as they are released.
Windows 10 Home users still have some defenses against unexpected Windows updates, though. Some of the methods to be proposed are unorthodox in terms of their approach to preventing the downloading or installation of Windows updates, but you probably will not care about this if they help you get the job done.
The Active Hours feature is one helpful functionality. Metered updates are another. Restart reminders might also prove their worth in some cases. With one or more of these options or functionalities, you should be able to keep Windows updates at bay without much trouble.
Windows 10 Pro users are also welcome to take advantage of the first two options notwithstanding the fact that they have access to significantly better methods of doing the same thing.
Use Active Hours:
We believe the Active Hours feature is the best functionality Windows 10 Home users can employ to avoid interruptions caused by the unexpected installation of Windows 10 updates. To access the functionality in view, follow these instructions:
- First, you have to launch the Settings app: Press the Windows button on your keyboard to see some programs and options on the Start menu screen. Click on Settings
- From the options available in the Setting program window, you must select Update and Security. You should end up on the Windows Update menu (on the left pane).
- Now, on the right pane, you should see the Change Active Hours link, which you must click on to continue.
Now, you have to specify the time range you are likely to be working on your PC. Windows will try not to update your PC during the selected timeframe.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is the default time range, and this period corresponds to business hours. Nevertheless, you can always set a window for up to 18 hours from the start time. If you try to specify a period that exceeds 18 hours, Windows will mark your specification as invalid, and it will not go into effect.
- Once you are done specifying your preferred time range for Active Hours, you must click on the Save button so that Windows can retain the changes you just made.
We can only hope you set up Active Hours correctly. If you are not careful, your system might end up restarting when the feature is disabled. There is a good chance you might not be by your PC during this period. Otherwise, Windows will move to display a reminder (with the checkbox that states you will be informed when Windows is pushing to restart your computer).
You will do well to tick that checkbox. This way, if things do not go as expected, you will see a notification warning you that Windows will eventually restart. This setup invariably should provide enough time for you to round up whatever it is you are doing and save your important work.
The notification setup is not perfect or infallible, though. For one, the notification might pop up when you are away from your PC, and if you do not return early enough, the message might have disappeared already by the time you come back.
Take advantage of the Metered Connections option:
Microsoft recognized that some users do not have unlimited bandwidth or unmetered internet connection plans, so they provide a backdoor for users to tell their system about this. This way (with the Metered Connection option), Windows will stop the downloading of updates, and this prevents computers from consuming all the available data or incurring extra costs for their users due to strict limits.
Windows can never know the truth about a connection being metered or not. Therefore, you can always claim your connection is metered—you are more or less going to lie about it. Follow these instructions to use the Metered Connections option:
- Press (and hold) the Windows button on your keyboard, then continue by giving the letter I key a tap. Windows will launch the Settings app.
- After the program window comes up as expected, you must click on Network and Internet. Select WIFI (from the list of options you see on the left pane).
- You should see the connections your computer often uses. Click on the Manage known network link under them. Now, it is time you selected the network you are using currently to highlight it.
- Click on the Properties button that appears. Now, you should see the Metered connection menu. You have to toggle on the switch for Set as metered connection, and you are good to go.
Now, given the changes you just made, your PC will throttle data usage for almost every app, operation or activity and not just for the Windows Update process. For example, Windows will pause or terminate the downloading of apps from the Microsoft Store, your system might stop updating the Start screen tiles, the automatic syncing of offline apps setup might fail to work as designed.
Nevertheless, Windows is expected to continue to download priority updates. Therefore, we can safely claim that the trick involving Metered Connections is not a foolproof way of avoiding unexpected installation of Windows updates.
Furthermore, if you use multiple WIFI networks, you have to set all of them as metered. You might consider the required operations far too laborious. You still have things relatively good, though.
Users who connect to the internet through Ethernet have things a lot worse because they cannot even take advantage of the Metered Connections trick since the option is not available for their mode of connection. Windows automatically assumes anyone accessing the web through a wired connection like Ethernet is on an unlimited data plan, which means Windows Update operations run as they like.
Given the limitations or shortcomings we expressed regards the use of the Active Hours feature or the Metered Connections trick to manage Windows Update activities, you might have finally understood why we stated earlier that the options accessible to users of the Pro edition of Windows are significantly better.
Only users with computers running Windows 10 Pro can use the next set of methods (all users can use the final one, though). If your PC is running Windows 10 Home, you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. You can do this quickly within the Windows Store app.
In theory, users with PCs running the Enterprise or the Education edition of Windows 10 should have access to the same procedures available on Windows 10 Pro machines. However, the caveat in play here is simply accounting for computers that might be centrally managed by an IT department or administrator who determines the policy for the devices.
Use the Pause updates option:
As far as we know, Microsoft recently got rid of the defer Windows 10 updates option. The Pause updates option now stands alone. Users get to pause updates for about 35 days, a period Microsoft considers lengthy enough for users to get ready for the installation of updates.
After the 35-day grace period elapses, Windows will automatically move to download and install all the available updates. Users cannot reuse the option to pause the updates until all the updates find their way into their computers.
Follow these instructions to pause updates in Windows 10:
- Press the Windows button on your keyboard. After the programs and options show up as expected, you must input the following keyword into the available text field to perform a quick search: updates
Click on Updates
- The Updates menu in a Settings program window should show up now. There, you must click on the Advanced options link under Windows updates. Toggle on the button under Pause Updates and you are done.
Use the Group Policy to make changes to Windows Update operations:
If the standard Pause Windows update option fails to deliver the result you want, then you can make the same modifications or even better alterations through the Group Policy. Here are the instructions you are waiting for:
Ø First, you have to open the Run app: Press (and hold) the Windows button on your keyboard, then follow up this move with a tap of the letter R key. Once the small Run program window appears, you must type in the following code into the text field you see there: gpedit.msc
Click on the OK button, and Windows should run the code. A tap of the Enter key does the same thing.
- Once the Local Group Policy Editor program window shows up, you must navigate through the following path (starting on the left pane): Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Update
- In your current destination, on the right pane, you should see some policies. Go through them and locate the Specify deadline before auto-restart for update installation policy. Double-click on it.
- Once the selected policy program window comes up, you must move to click on the radio button for Enabled to choose this option. Subsequently, under options, you can click on the drop-down menu to specify the number of days you want Windows to wait before it restarts your computer automatically to finish installing updates.
Typically, Windows is supposed to allow you to select up to 30 days, but the policy often requests that you use a number between 2 and 14.
- Before you move on, you must check the No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations policy by clicking on it to see its properties window. You must disable it if you find it active. You must move on to do the same thing on the Always automatically restart at a scheduled time policy
If you do not carry out the above operations or fail to do them correctly, then the reschedule auto-restart setup will not work.
- Once you have completed all the required tasks on a window, you have to click on the Apply button and round up everything with a click of the OK button.
Go through the registry to specify auto-restart deadlines:
Here, we are going to show you how to instruct Windows to restart your PC to finish installing updates after a specific period. The operations involved here can be performed on any edition of Windows 10 since the needed work is to be done on the registry.
Nevertheless, we have to warn you of the risks or complications that could result from you altering data on the registry. If you get things wrong, your Windows installation might suffer irreversible damage (in the worst-case scenarios, at least). You will do well to back up the contents of your registry before you begin any work on it. The backup might save you a lot of trouble later on.
Go through these steps to alter the settings for Windows updates:
- First, you have to launch the Run app by pressing (and holding) the Windows button on your keyboard, then moving on to give the letter R key a tap. Regedit is the code you must input into the text field available in the small Run program window.
Windows will run the code once you hit the Enter key.
- After the Registry Editor program window comes up as expected, you have to navigate through the following items (starting from the left pane): HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Policies \ Microsoft \ Windows
- In your current location, you must right-click on the Windows folder to see a menu list. Select New. From the available options, select Key. You must input WindowsUpdate into the required text field as the name of the key. Hit the Enter button, and Windows will save it
- Now, you must continue by right-clicking on the newly-created WIndowsUpdate folder or key, then select New. This time, from the options you see, you must click on DWORD (32-bit) Value. Input SetAutoRestartDeadline in the required text field as the name of the value, then hit the Enter key to save it
- Now, you have to double-click on the DWORD value you just created and delete whatever you find in the field for Value Data. Input 1 there. Click on the OK button, and Windows will save the changes.
- Right-click on the WIndowsUpdate key once more, and select New from the options you see. Go with the DWORD (32-bit) Value option. The name of this key should be AutoRestartDeadlinePeriodInDays. Once you are done inputting the name into the required text field, you have to click on the OK button
- Continue by double-clicking on the newly created DWORD, then click on the radio button for Decimal (under Base) to select this option. Delete whatever you find in the field for Value data. Input a figure between 0 and 14 (depending on what you want).
- Click on the OK button to complete the operation, and you should be done with everything. You can close the program windows you launched.
If you did everything correctly, then the next time an update becomes available, your device is supposed to restart outside the active hours in the day you specified some time ago. If you later decide you want to reverse or terminate the settings you just set up, all you have to do is go through the same steps again and delete the keys you created.
By this, we mean if you created the WindowsUpdate folder or key, you must delete it. Otherwise (if this key was existing already), you must get rid of the subkeys you created (SetAutoRestartDeadline and AutoRestartDeadlinePeriodInDays).
One last thing
: You can still set your system to boot manually for a particular update if you really need it to do that. This way, you end up overriding all the settings or configurations that determine Windows Update operations. Here are the instructions you have to follow:
- Open the Settings app. We already showed you how to launch this application a good number of times, so we do not have to repeat ourselves here
- Once the program window shows up, you must navigate through the necessary options to arrive at the Windows Update menu. There, you should see the Schedule a restart link, which you must click on to input the required parameters
(Note: The Schedule the restart option is only available when an update is pending or waiting for its installation by Windows).
- At this point, you must toggle on the Schedule a time switch, and finally, you can move to select the time and day you want Windows to get things done. You can go as far as 7 seven days.
Once you have completed the setup, Windows will wait until the specified date and time before it moves to apply updates.
We have just shown you the most effective means of temporarily stopping or delaying the installation of Windows updates. Now, you must understand that driver updates are part of the updates package, but the driver versions provided are not always the best fit for your PC. In any case, you are better off updating your computer drivers on your own.
However, the large number of drivers involved might put you off even starting anything. To this end, we have to recommend Auslogics Driver Updater. This superb program can help you update all the drivers on your PC to their latest-manufacturer recommended versions in no time through risk-free and incredibly efficient operations.