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How to Stop Windows Updates From Installing Automatically

Updated on October 18, 2017
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Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

Have you ever considered stopping your computer from making automatic updates for the operating system and your applications? These periodic updates and hotfixes are aimed at patching security holes and adding improvements. They also prepare your computer for future installations. It is similar to updating your BIOS settings. Besides fixing existing hardware and compatibility bugs, it prepares the computer for new hardware.

While these updates are a good thing and will ensure your computer runs optimally and safely, there may be times when you want to choose when they happen. Below are some steps for how to prevent automatic updates.

1. Disable Windows Update in Security Settings

You can disable Windows Updates by visiting the security settings of your operating system.

In Windows 7:

  • Click the Start button and type 'windows' update in the search box.
  • Hit the Enter button.

In Windows 8:

  • Type 'windows update' in the Metro interface or use the Power User Menu.
  • To use the Power User Menu, press the Windows key + X on the keyboard and select Search. Type 'windows update'.
  • Hit Enter

Windows 10 users do not have the option of disabling automatic updates using this method. Instead, you should go to the System and Security settings in the control panel where you can choose to disable updates.

  • Click Change settings.
  • In the next window, scroll to the Never check for updates (not recommended) option.
  • Click OK.

You can follow this up by turning off Security and Maintenance messages in the Action Center. Otherwise, you will get bombarded with endless security messages telling you to enable updates.

  • Type 'action center' in the Start button search box.
  • Inside the System and Security page, click Change Action Center settings.
  • Uncheck the checkboxes you want disabled from messages.

You can choose to turn off security and maintenance messages
You can choose to turn off security and maintenance messages

Better yet, disable the Action Center reminder icon in the Notification tray.

To do this:

  • Type 'notification' in the search box and select Notification Area Icons.
  • Inside the Notification Area Icons page, click Turns system icons on or off.
  • Scroll down to the Action Center button and click the arrow to turn it Off.
  • Click OK.
  • Remember to turn this option on if you wish to receive security and maintenance messages later on.

You can choose to turn off notifications about security and maintenance messages
You can choose to turn off notifications about security and maintenance messages

2. Disable Windows Update Services

You may want to consider using the Services tool in order to block automatic updates. Microsoft's operating system gives special permissions through Services to enable and disable all kinds of processes.

To stop any service from running, including the update service, you can simply stop it from running!

To access the Service tool in Windows 7, click the Start button in Taskbar and type ‘services’ in the search box.

In Windows 8+ and 10, hit the Windows key + X on the keyboard and select Search.

Alternatively, you can use the Taskbar search box in Windows 10 to initiate your search.

Turn Startup type to Disabled to disable automatic Windows updates.
Turn Startup type to Disabled to disable automatic Windows updates.

The Services page will open with a list of services that are currently running on your computer. Scroll downwards until you see the Windows Update service near the bottom.

  • Right click or double click to access the Windows Update properties.
  • Under Startup type, scroll and select Disabled and click Apply and OK.

You should know that by disabling this feature, your computer will not benefit from any operating system or program updates.

3. Use NetBalancer

If you feel uncomfortable playing around with your security settings or you feel that other applications are eating at your data plan even after you have disabled Windows Updates, then NetBalancer is what you need.

NetBalancer is an internet and data control tool which allows you to apportion your download and upload priorities as well as the running processes on your computer. It places you in charge of data flow, giving permissions to disable, enable, or limit the amount of data used by specific applications and processes.

The tool streams real-time data usage of applications in chronological order as well as listing program from the highest to lowest data users.

Settings for data usage can be set to low, normal, high, limit, block, and ignore priorities.

NetBalancer allows you to control data from your applications and services.
NetBalancer allows you to control data from your applications and services.

Other Options

You can also use these tools to disable automatic updates:

  • Group Policy Editor.
  • Registry settings.
  • If disabling updates turns out cumbersome, as in Windows 8, you can disable them during the installation process.

Enable Updates or Download Service Packs

If you choose to disable automatic updates for one reason or another, remember to enable it after a few months in order to download the pending updates.

You can also download these updates as Service Packs and install them on top of the operating system.

While service packs are available for previous versions, Windows 10 is not designed to install standalone service packs. This version depends on automatic updates to keep your computer safe from security exploits.

Why Many Users Want to Stop Automatic Updates

Despite the positives about automatic updates, there are some disadvantages.

  1. Installation of buggy updates: Not every new update is a good one. Some are capable of bringing your computer to its knees. Remember the Flame malware that was distributed in KB 3004394 or the problems with Excel after the patches in KB 2553154? These are but a few of the botched Patch Tuesday updates that may cause harm to your machine. Buggy updates are known to mess up working features and disable programs that have been working fine. The Windows 10 Threshold 2 update of 2015 reportedly uninstalled some 3rd party applications that the operating system deemed incompatible with the computer setup!
  2. Limited Internet usage: Some countries charge exorbitant prices for internet and users prefer to stay clear of Windows updates to avoid costly bundles.
  3. Effects on pirated software: Users of pirated copies of Windows and other applications can be hindered by automatic updates. I don't condone piracy, but lots of folks out there willingly run counterfeit software and will keep doing so! For this reason, they choose to disable updates in order to avoid being caught, such as what happened with KB 971033 in Windows 7.

This is what happens when update KB 971033 installs in a computer running a pirated copy of Windows 7.
This is what happens when update KB 971033 installs in a computer running a pirated copy of Windows 7.

© 2016 Alfred Amuno

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