Make Win­dows Up­date be­have it­self

Dis­cover how to use Win­dows Up­date, and wrest back con­trol of the up­date process from Win­dows 10.

APC Australia - - How To » Windows -

Up­dat­ing Win­dows is an in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant part of your day-to-day main­te­nance, but many peo­ple put off the up­dat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence if they can. This isn’t lazi­ness — Mi­crosoft has quite the rep­u­ta­tion for re­leas­ing patches be­fore they’re ready for gen­eral con­sump­tion, and there are hor­ror sto­ries of Win­dows in­stal­la­tions fall­ing over.

De­spite this, in most cir­cum­stances it pays to en­sure you’re at least up to date with the lat­est se­cu­rity hot­fixes, so opt­ing out of up­dates al­to­gether — even where pos­si­ble — isn’t prac­ti­cal. Let’s see what you can do about en­sur­ing the Win­dows Up­date process works with you and not against you.


When Mi­crosoft re­leased Win­dows 10, it took con­trol away from the end user run­ning Win­dows 10 Home, and now forces up­dates to be in­stalled as soon as they are avail­able and down­loaded. At this point, Win­dows will tell you that up­dates are pend­ing and prompt you to restart your PC.

It’s con­fig­ured to force a re­boot to in­stall up­dates out­side your ‘ac­tive hours’, in other words, when you’re not typ­i­cally us­ing your PC — which is 5pm–8am by de­fault (click ‘Change ac­tive hours’ from the main Win­dows Up­date set­tings screen to change them). It means you can’t de­lay an up­date in­def­i­nitely sim­ply by re­fus­ing to shut down or restart, but you can de­fer it slightly: click ‘Sched­ule the restart’ next to the ‘Restart now’ but­ton, flick

the switch to On and you can choose to push back the restart by up to seven days. It’s fine as a last re­sort, but can you re­ally go for seven days with­out need­ing to restart or shut down your PC?

You’ll have an eas­ier time if you use Win­dows 10 Pro: Head over to ‘Set­tings > Up­date & Se­cu­rity > Win­dows Up­date’ and click Ad­vanced Op­tions. You’ll find a Pause Up­dates switch, which al­lows you to pause up­dates for up to 35 days — handy if you hear of an up­date caus­ing prob­lems and want to put things off.

A bet­ter way to pre­vent up­dates from get­ting on your sys­tem be­fore they’re ready is to scroll down to ‘Choose when up­dates are in­stalled’. You can de­lay fea­ture up­dates by around four months after their re­lease by switch­ing from the Semi-An­nual (Tar­geted) chan­nel to Semi-An­nual via the drop-down menu. You can de­fer this for up to an ad­di­tional year (or 365 days) via the Fea­ture Up­date De­fer drop-down menu. It’s also pos­si­ble to de­fer qual­ity up­dates — patches and se­cu­rity hot­fixes — for up to 30 days via an­other drop-down menu. That way you can avoid ex­pos­ing your PC to an up­date that’s later pulled for sta­bil­ity rea­sons.

What if you’re run­ning Win­dows 10 Home? The step-by-step guide be­low re­veals a tech­nique for man­u­ally dis­abling Win­dows Up­date that works for the lat­est April 2018 Up­date. Note, you should still pe­ri­od­i­cally check for up­dates — launch the tool and reen­able the ser­vice to do so, then dis­able it again after use.


If you’re still us­ing Win­dows 7 or 8.1, then you re­main in full con­trol of the process. Open ‘Con­trol Panel > Win­dows Up­date’ where you’ll see a screen telling you how many up­dates are wait­ing to be in­stalled. Click ‘Check for up­dates’ to re­fresh this search at any time. Up­dates are di­vided into two types: im­por­tant and op­tional. You’ll be shown how many of each are avail­able — click the rel­e­vant hy­per­link to view and select which ones to in­stall us­ing the tick boxes. For more in­for­ma­tion about a spe­cific up­date, select it for a sum­mary, then click ‘More in­for­ma­tion’ for a full de­scrip­tion on­line.

You’ll also see a sta­tus about whether the up­date has been down­loaded or not, and whether it’s ready to be in­stalled on your PC. This sta­tus ties into how you’ve con­fig­ured Win­dow Up­date. Click OK to re­turn to the main screen, then click ‘Change set­tings’ to con­trol when and what up­dates are de­ployed to your com­puter.

By de­fault, up­dates are in­stalled au­to­mat­i­cally ei­ther at a set time or when you next re­boot, but if you want to pause be­fore in­stalling them we rec­om­mend choos­ing ‘Down­load up­dates but let me choose whether to in­stall them’. You can also review avail­able up­dates be­fore down­load­ing them or switch the fea­ture off en­tirely. We don’t rec­om­mended do­ing this, how­ever, since both Win­dows 7 and 8.1 are still sup­ported by se­cu­rity hot­fixes, and so should be kept up to date.

You’ll also see a box al­low­ing you to opt out of au­to­mat­i­cally re­ceiv­ing ‘rec­om­mended’ up­dates along­side crit­i­cal ones. Untick­ing this box ba­si­cally means rec­om­mended up­dates like the .NET Frame­work Tool are moved to the Op­tional cat­e­gory, where they’ll be ital­i­cised to make them stand out (see the ‘Op­tional up­dates’ box­out op­po­site).

Win­dows 10 Home users can post­pone the in­evitable forced restart by up to seven days only.

Win­dows 10 Pro users are able to put off se­cu­rity up­dates for up to 30 days; fea­ture up­dates up to 16 months.

Win­dows 7 and 8.1 users en­joy com­plete con­trol over how and when up­dates are de­liv­ered.

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