One of the controversial features of Windows 10 is a new way that the operating system handles updates. Cumulative updates are installed automatically when Windows decides to do it. This can be extremely frustrating for Windows 10 users as they are often forced to restart their machine at an inopportune time.
Before proceeding, remember that some of the automatic updates will be security updates or important stability improvements that you will want to have installed on your system. Keep this in mind if you choose to keep automatic updates turned off for an extended period of time.
One option which we will not look at in depth is to make registry changes to your Windows operating system to disable automatic updates. This is a dangerous procedure and should only be taken by experienced users who have taken a full backup of their machine before attempting the registry changes. Mistakes during this process can have serious negative effects on your computer and its performance.
Option 1. Disable the Windows Update Service
Windows Update is essentially just another Windows Service and can be turned off in a similar manner to other services.
Follow these steps to stop Windows 10 updates:
- Fire up the Run command (Win + R). Type in “services.msc” and hit Enter.
- Select the Windows Update service from the Services list.
- Click on the “General” tab and change the “Startup Type” to “Disabled”.
- Restart your machine.
When you want to re-enable automatic updates you just follow the same procedure except you select “Automatic” when choosing the “Startup Type”.
Option 2. Set Up a Metered Connection
If you are using WiFi to connect your Windows 10 machine to the Internet, you have the option of setting up a metered connection. In a metered connection, bandwidth is conserved by only automatically downloading and installing priority updates.
Microsoft’s method of classification may remain a mystery, but driver and software feature updates that may cause stability problems are minimized by opting for this option for stopping Windows 10 automatic updates.
To disable Windows 10 updates:
- Open the Windows Settings application (Win + I).
- Click on the ‘Network & Internet’ section.
- Open ‘Wi-Fi’ and click the ‘Manage known networks’.
- Select network and in ‘Properties‘ toggle the ‘Set as metered connection’ option to ‘On’.
For some reason, Microsoft only offers this option if you are using a WiFi connection. If you connect to the Internet through an Ethernet cable you will not be able to set up a metered connection.
Option 3. Group Policy Editor
You can make changes to the Group Policy Editor if you are using Windows 10 Education, Pro or Enterprise editions. Users of Windows 10 Home edition are out of luck regarding this way of disabling Windows 10 updates.
If you opt for this solution, security updates will still be installed automatically. For all other updates, you will be notified that they are available and can install them at your convenience. This is the way Windows update worked in the past. Today, Microsoft wants to eliminate the need for novice users to engage in updates, but it has enforced this at the cost of flexibility for more experienced users.
Here’s how to update your Group Policy Editor to prevent automatic Windows 10 updates:
- Launch the Run command (Win + R). Type in “gpedit.msc” and hit Enter to open the group policy editor.
- Drill down through “Computer Configuration” to “Administrative Templates”.
- Select “Windows Components” and then “Windows Update”.
- Choose the option on the right to “Configure Automatic Updates.”
- Select the option that indicates “Notify for download and auto install”.
- Click “Apply” and “OK”.
- Type “Windows Update” into the Start menu and select “Windows Update Settings.”
- Restart your computer to finish updating the group policy editor.
- Check for updates. You should be notified by Windows if it finds them but they should not be automatically installed any longer.
From this point forward Windows should notify you that updates are available and it is your responsibility to make sure that they get downloaded and installed.
Why Would I Need to Know How to Disable Windows 10 Updates?
Operating system, driver, and application updates can often lead to unexpected behavior on the computer on which they are installed. One way to protect yourself and your machine from unanticipated problems is to perform a backup before installing updates to your system.
Unfortunately, when automatic updates are being installed without your approval, you cannot take this precautionary step and face the possibility of having to resort to an older backup if you need to go back past the update.
Many updates need to reboot your machine when complete and certainly take up bandwidth while downloading. This can lead to slower response time and unforeseen reboots that can cause havoc with your work life.
So there are indeed valid reasons to turn off automatic updates in Windows 10. Just be careful not to turn the service off and forget to check for updates. While automatic updates can be problematic, letting your system lag behind critical updates can also have serious consequences.