In Windows 10, Microsoft removed options often employed to avoid or delay updates. The new operating system more or less updates itself without any input from users in most cases.
This setup has its merits. For one, computers now download and install security patches and bug fixes as soon as Microsoft releases them. However, we will be focusing on an issue which revolves around downsides associated with the automatic update mechanism.
Besides patches to reduce security vulnerabilities in Windows, bug fixes to improve the overall stability of computers, or new features to enhance the productivity of users, Windows updates often come with upgrades for drivers. Most people experience little to no issues with the drivers provided—they hardly ever notice the changes. The story is different for a small (but significant) proportion of users, though.
Some driver updates trigger problems on specific hardware configurations. Moreover, Windows Update sometimes introduces outdated drivers while ignoring the latest ones. Well, these things would not have mattered so much had Microsoft not taken away the option (in the Settings app) which users employed to exclude drivers from the items upgraded by Windows Update. So here we are.
In this guide, we will show you how to stop Windows 10 from automatically updating drivers through multiple means combined with a good number of variations or tweaks.
How to stop Windows Update from downloading and installing updates for drivers on Windows 10, using Group Policy?
If you have a device running the Pro edition of Windows, then the most straightforward way of disabling the updating of drivers by Windows Update requires you to carry out operations, using the Local Group Policy Editor program. Follow these instructions:
- Open the Run app. Press (without releasing) the Windows button on your keyboard, then hit the letter R key. After the small program window comes up, you must input the following code into the text field present: gpedit.msc
Click on the OK button or hit the Enter key to launch the needed app.
- The Local Group Policy Editor program window should be up and running now. Go through the list on the left pane, then navigate through the following items: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update
- On the right pane, in your current location, you should see a long list of policies. Go through them and locate Do not include drivers with Windows Update. Double-click on this policy to open it
- After the window for the selected policy comes up, you must tick the radio button for the Enabled option. Click on the Apply button to continue, followed by the OK button to save the changes you just made.
If you followed the instructions above and did everything correctly, then your computer will continue to receive and install security patches, bug fixes, and other items embedded in Windows updates, but driver upgrades will be excluded.
Since you have opted out of the driver updating setup provided by Windows Update, you will need to update your drivers one way or the other. We advise you to download and run Auslogics Driver Updater. With this app in place, you can employ the safest, fastest and the most efficient method of updating drivers.
The recommended program works by carrying out a scan on your device to detect issues with drivers (missing, corrupted, and outdated drivers constitute the bulk of the problems). After the identification process, you will be able to update any driver with a single click of a button.
If you decide to go a step further, then you can take advantage of other options to update every single driver on your PC. It does not get more comfortable than this when it comes to the updating of driver software.
How to stop Windows Update from downloading and installing updates for drivers on Windows 10 through the Registry Editor app?
If your device is running the Home edition of Windows 10 instead, then you will struggle to access the Local Group Policy Editor program. Your best bet to excluding driver updates involves some work on Registry. Before you move on to carry out the required task, we have to warn you of a few things.
The Registry is an incredibly sensitive component of Windows. Edits made to it define many things. Therefore, if you are to work on it at all, you must do so with great care. We recommend that you create a backup of its contents so that if things ever go south, you will comfortably have something to fall back to at least.
Once you are ready, follow these instructions:
- Open the Run app by hitting (and holding) the Windows key on your keyboard, then tapping the letter R key. The small program window should be up and running by now. Input the following code into the text field there: regedit
Run the code by clicking on the OK button or tapping the Enter key.
- The Registry Editor program window should be up and running now. Starting from the list you see on the left pane, you must navigate through the following items: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Policies \ Microsoft\ Windows
You can copy and paste the link we provided above into the address bar on the Registry Editor program window (ensure that there are no spaces between characters), then tap the Enter key to reach the required destination. Microsoft introduced this functionality on Windows 10, mind you.
- In your current location, on the right pane, you must right-click on any area void of objects or icons to see a short menu list. Click on New. From the available options, select Key. Input the following keyword as the name of the key: WIndowsUpdate
- Hit the Enter button to save the key. Right-click on the newly-created key, select New from the menu list that appears, then select DWORD (32-bit) Value from the available options. Input the following keyword as the name of the value: ExcludeWUDriversInQualityUpdate
- Hit the Enter button. Windows should now save the key. Now, you must double-click on the newly-created DWORD value to edit it. After the Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value window shows up, you must input the 1 into the field for Value Data.
- Click on the OK button. You are now free to exit the program windows you opened.
If everything went well, then Windows will stop fetching and installing upgrades for your drivers, but your system will continue to receive and use cumulative updates without issues.
If you ever change your mind in the future or the need for driver updates provided by Windows Update arises, you can quickly reverse the operation you just carried out now.
All you have to do is go through the same instructions above, but this time, after you enter the WIndowsUpdate folder, you must right-click on the ExcludeWUDriversInQualityUpdate DWORD value and select the Delete option from the short menu list that appears to get rid of it.
How to prevent Windows Update from automatically updating specific drivers (for Windows 10 Pro users)?
If you are okay with the driver updates provided by Windows Update except for a few drivers, then we believe you might prefer to learn how to prevent Windows from automatically updating specific drivers. The operations involved here are considerably longer in comparison to what you are used to already.
- First, you have to ensure that the driver in view is currently installed on your device and confirm that there is nothing wrong with it. After you do this, you must move on to find the Hardware ID for the device driver.
- You can access the needed information through the Device Manager program. There, you will find the list of drivers available on your computer. Locate the driver in view, then open its Properties window. Navigate to the Details tab to view the IDs associated with the device. You can copy the data and save it to a text file to ensure quick access and recovery of the required information.
- Now, it is time you opened the Local Group Policy Editor program. This time, you must navigate through the following items: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Device Installation > Device Installation Restrictions
- On the right pane, you must double-click on the Prevent installation of devices that match any of these devices IDs object. Tick the radio button for Enabled. Click on the Show button. Now you must move on to add the IDs you copied earlier.
- Windows will allow you to add one at a time, so you must carry out several (copy and paste) operations from the text file you created earlier. Add the Hardware IDs for all the devices whose updating you intend to prevent. Click on the OK button after you finish adding all the necessary items.
- You are now free to exit the program windows you opened. You can test the effectiveness of the operation you carried out—try to install an updated driver for the device you worked on and observe the result. You should see an error message.
If you later change your mind on the policy you just enforced, you can follow the same operations above to reverse the process by deleting the IDs and saving the changes.
How to disable automatic Windows 10 updates?
If you are experiencing issues with a single driver update, then you can select the particular update responsible for the problems to prevent its installation. Follow these instructions:
- Launch your web browser. After the program window comes up, type the following keywords into the address bar to do a quick search for them: show or hide updates troubleshooter
From the list of results on Google’s search page, click on the first link you see (usually the one for a Microsoft support page article).
- Click on the Download the Show or hide updates troubleshooter package now. Save the file. After the download is complete, click or double-click on the saved item to run it. With the help of this tool, you can select the updates that you want Windows to install automatically or the ones you want your system to leave out.
- After the Show or hide update window appears, click on the Hide updates option. On the next screen, you will see the list of updates that are available. Tick the checkbox for the update whose installation you want to prevent.
- Click on the Next button to continue. Now you must move on to confirm that the changes you made are currently active. Exit the troubleshooter; close the program windows you opened. Continue with the instructions below:
- Open the Settings app by pressing (and holding) the Windows button on your keyboard, then tapping the letter I key. After the required program window appears, click on Update and Security.
- Click on the Check for updates button. Windows will contact Microsoft servers to fetch the updates available for your computer. After Windows presents the list, you are free to go through it. The update you marked earlier should be missing there.
In the future, if you change your mind and decide that you need the update in view, all you have to do is open the tool you downloaded earlier, navigate through it using the same set of instructions, but this time you must untick the checkbox for the update you want Windows to install.
Save the changes, and you should be set now. The next time you (or Windows itself) checks for updates, the marked update will appear, and it will be available for installation or downloading.
We have just shown you how to block the driver updates that come along with Windows Update. However, you must understand that we consider the disabling of the default setup a bold move that should only be used when extremely necessary.
There is a good chance that your system might miss out an update necessary for the correct functioning of the hardware devices of your PC. Nevertheless, we understand that there are some situations where the downsides associated with the disabling of driver updates pale in comparison to the benefits you are looking to gain from it.
For example, if you need to use the custom drivers or special software provided by the manufacturer of your PC, then the knowledge you have acquired here will be put to good use.