How to prevent Windows 10 updates from restarting your PC using Active Hours?

September 16, 2018 |

greater than 7 minutes

Windows Update might have forced a restart of your device while you were busy on some critical task, which means you ended up losing unsaved work. Or perhaps, the operating system’s ability to install updates when it wants is yet to cause you problems. Well, in that case, you probably ended on this page because you do not intend to wait until a bad day comes along.

What are Active Hours on Windows 10?

Microsoft introduced Active Hours as a feature that users can employ to specify periods or time intervals when they are most likely to be working on their device to prevent unexpected restarts initiated by Windows Update. With this setup in place, even if there is a pending update for your device, Windows will avoid restarting your PC during your specified active hours.

Considering the complaints or volume of reports submitted by users about Windows restarting their system automatically after the downloading of Windows updates to install them, we can safely claim that this new functionality will appeal to a good number of people. Note that the feature is available only on computers running the Windows 10 Anniversary update or newer builds of Windows.

After you go through this guide, you will have learned how to configure Windows 10 Active Hours to avoid sudden restarts while your system updates itself. With this setup in place, the chances of unexpected interruptions occurring reduce significantly.

How to set up active hours on Windows 10?

Note: You must be logged into your system as an administrator to do the job. Regular user accounts often lack sufficient permissions to make critical changes to the activities of the Windows operating system (the one involving Active Hours, for example).

Follow these instructions to configure Active Hours to prevent automatic restarts while you are busy working:

  • Click on the Windows Start icon that is always present on your desktop screen (or press the Windows button on your keyboard). Click on the Settings app to open it
  • Click on Update and Security. You should be on the Windows Update menu now. Click on the Change Active Hours link (usually under the Check for updates button)
  • The window for editing Active Hours should come up now. Now, you need to specify the time interval you tend to be busy on your computer or the period you would rather not have Windows updates bothering you

If you are thinking of setting the entire day as the time range for your active hours, then you must be disappointed to find out that the maximum period allowed is 18 hours. If you try to go beyond the stated figure, Windows will mark your entry as invalid.

  • After you finish inputting the necessary data, you must click on the Save button. The changes should become effective immediately. Therefore, if you followed the instructions above and did everything correctly, your system will not reboot itself during the specified time interval.

How to reschedule an automatic restart; how to override your Active Hours settings?

Even after you set up Active Hours to prevent automatic system restarts at unexpected periods, you might find yourself working beyond the specified time range. Of course, the last thing you would want in such a situation is Windows forcing an automatic restart of your computer with you being unable to do anything to stop it.

Well, you might as well consider the ability to reschedule an automatic restart a lifesaver. With this functionality, if an update is pending, you can tell Windows when precisely it should reboot your device to avoid interruptions. Here are the steps you need to go through:

  • Open the Settings app. We showed you how to do this earlier in the previous operation, so there is nothing to see here. After the required program window shows up, click on Update and Security to enter their menu
  • Under the Windows Update menu, click on the Schedule the restart link (usually beside the Restart now button). If the needed link or button is missing, then your PC does not have a pending update.
  • The Schedule a time window should be up now. Toggle on the switch for We’ll restart to finish installing updates when you tell us…
  • Input the values for the Date and Time in the future when you want Windows to reboot your computer. You cannot postpone the restart beyond 7 days. After you save the changes, Windows will take note of them to avoid restarting your PC anytime soon until the specified Date and Time.

Note that after the specified period elapses and Windows reboots your computer, the Active Hours setup will become active once again.

How to set up Active Hours through the Group Policy?

If you have a device running the Pro, Enterprise or Education edition of Windows 10, then you will have access to the Local Group Policy Editor program. You can follow these instructions to configure Active Hours:

  • Open the Run program by hitting the Enter button on your keyboard, then pressing the letter R key. The small program window should appear, and you must input the following code into the text field present: gpedit.msc

To run the code, tap the Enter key once more or click on the OK button

  • The Local Group Policy Editor program window should be on your screen by now. Starting from the tree hierarchy you see on the left, you must navigate through the following items: Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Updates.
  • In your current destination, you should see a long list of policies. Locate the Turn off auto-restart for updates during active hours policy. Double-click on it to open its settings window
  • Tick the radio button for Enabled. Select your preferred values for the Start and End times of the feature. Click on the Apply button. Click on the OK button. You are now free to exit the program windows you opened

Note: Windows will disregard the policy you put in place if a setup against auto-restart for logged on users as regards scheduled automatic update installations is active. The same thing applies if there is a planned automatic restart.

How to configure and control Active Hours through the Registry?

This method of configuring Active Hours works on all editions of Windows 10. Windows 10 Home users, in particular, will do well to take advantage of the ability to perform operations on the Registry, considering the other procedures they are unable to execute due to their build of Windows.

Nevertheless, we advise all users to make a backup of the contents of their computer’s registry before they begin any work involving it. Operations performed on the Registry are risky in that they can bring about serious and extensive system-wide changes.

For example, if you delete the wrong item from your Registry’s database, then your computer might refuse to boot up. In such a scenario, you will end up having to deal with a self-created problem. A backup, if available, would go a long way in helping you put things in order swiftly.

Follow these instructions once you are ready to work on the registry to configure, disable or enable the Active Hours functionality on Windows 10:

  • Open the Run app. Right-click on the Windows Start icon that is always present on your desktop screen, then select Run from the list of programs and options you see. After the small program shows up, you must type in the following code into the text field there:regedit

Hit the Enter key or click on the OK button; Windows should run the code now. You should see a small dialog box (usually from User Account Control) requesting confirmation for the operation you initiated. To confirm, click on the OK button.

  • The Registry Editor program window should be up on your screen now. Starting from the list of objects you see on the left pane, you must navigate through the following items:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX\Settings
  • In your current location, you should see the list of the options that define the Active Hours feature. A brief explanation is necessary to further your understanding of the objects in view:
  1. ActiveHoursEnd: This entry contains the information that defines the end time of the functionality
  2. ActiveHoursStart: This value contains information that determines the start time of the feature
  3. IsActiveHoursEnabled: This entry contains data that determine if the functionality is active or in a disabled state
  • If you came here to change the starting time for Active Hours, double-click on the ActiveHoursStart entry to edit it. After the required window comes up, input your preferred time into the text field for Value Data (ensure that the radio button for Decimal is ticked). Click on the OK button to save the alteration.

Similarly, if you want to edit the closing time for Active Hours, you have to open its window by double-clicking on the ActiveHoursEnd value. Finally, you must move on to type in the time you want into the text field for Value Data. The radio button for Decimal must be selected before you enter your preferred digits. To save the Edit, click on the OK button.

(Note that you can only input the time values for the 24-hour clock).

If you need to enable or disable the Active Hours feature, then double-click on the IsActiveHoursEnabled entry to open the required window to edit it. To turn on Active Hours, you must input 1 into the text field for Value data. Input 0 into the stated text field if you want to turn off Active Hours instead. Click on the OK button to instruct Windows to save your changes.

Tips:

  • In general, through the course of this guide, you might have come to realize that Microsoft provides extensive options for people with computers running the Pro, Education, and Enterprise editions of Windows 10 while the operating system maker adopts a less flexible policy for users with PCs running the Home edition of Windows 10.

Therefore, if you have the Home edition, you might benefit from an upgrade to the Pro edition as regards Windows updates. On the Pro build of Windows 10, you can defer updates for a week, a month or even a year (in some cases).

  • We believe you are on this page because the Active Hours functionality is integral to preventing loss of data or progress made on your Windows device. From this, we have figured out that you are more often than not engaging in numerous activities on your computer.

We recommend you download and run Auslogics BoostSpeed. You need your system operating at the optimum levels possible, and the recommended app will go a long way in helping you achieve that. With its help, you can quickly execute numerous performance-enhancing operations (using the best optimization techniques) to improve the all-around performance of your PC.

  • Finally, we recommend that you avoid shutting down your computer immediately after you finish working on it. After all, Windows needs time (outside of your specified Active Hours) to download, install and work on updates. You will only end up increasing the chances of an unexpected restart happening if you deny your operating system the time it needs.
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