How to Turn off Automatic Updates in Windows
If you are thinking about how to stop automatic updates from installing in Windows 10 and others, you are definitely not alone and are surely in the right place. Yes, Microsoft served updates and hotfixes are aimed at patching security holes and adding new features to its operating systems so that they are even more useful.
A good thing you will say, but while they are meant to ensure optimal performance of the computer, they also tend to become a problem because of the reasons explained below:
Not every new update is a good one. Some of them have been known to bring your computer down to its knees, leaving it a crawling pain. Remember the Flame malware in KB 3004394 or the problems with Excel after the KB 2553154 patch? These are but a few of the botched Patch Tuesday updates.
Buggy updates can also mess up features and disable working programs. The Windows 10 Threshold 2 update of 2015 reportedly uninstalled some 3rd party applications that the operating system deemed incompatible!
Internet data hogs
Some countries charge exorbitant prices for data bundles and users prefer to stay clear of Windows updates which can eat big into these pricey bundles. This is particularly so for those that use limited data plans.
Effects on pirate software!
Users of pirated copies of Windows and other applications can be cornered by automatic updates. While not condoning piracy, I have to confess that lots of folks out there continue to install them and will keep doing so!
For this reason, they prefer remaining anonymous and choose to disable updates so as not to get caught!
The infamous KB 971033 update in Windows 7 is one such tool that continues to smoke out pirate installations.
Below are steps to prevent automatic updates from happening.
1. Disable Windows Updates in Security Settings
Do this by opening the security settings of your operating system.
- Click the Start button and type 'windows' update in the search box.
- Hit the Enter button.
- In the next screen select Change settings.
- Then under Important updates, select Never check for updates (not recommended).
- 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
- Do the same as in Windows 7
- If the option to change Important updates settings is inactive, you are out of luck.
- You probably should change this setting when installing Windows. This can be done when setting up the desktop for the first time.
Users of this operating system do not have a clearcut option to disable automatic updates using this method.
2. Disable Windows Update Services
You may want to use 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 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. Type services. Select View local services in windows 8 or Services in Windows 10.
Alternatively, you can use the Taskbar search box in Windows 10 to initiate the search for the service tool.
Click or tap to open it.
The new 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.
- Do this for every data hog application.
Sadly though, the features you disable here have a way of enabling themselves when the computer is restarted. You may, therefore, want to keep at it everytime you restart your PC.
3. Set Up Metered Connections in Windows 8.1 & 10
By enabling the metered connection option in Windows 8.1 and 10 you are able to stop huge data consumption. Usually, the metered option will make the OS do the following,
- only install priority updates
- stop apps from updating
- stop Start screen from updating live data
- stop offline files from synchronizing automatically
To enable metered connection,
- Press Windows key + I to access the charms bar
- Click Change Settings
- Toggle Set as metered connection, from Off to On
- Press Windows key + I
- Open Network & Internet
- Open Wi-Fi
- Open Advanced Options
- Toggle Set as metered connection, from Off to On
4. Edit Group Policy Editor (GPE) in Windows 8.1 and & 10
Editing the GPE will make the computer notify you about available updates but will not install them forcefully. It is up to you, therefore, to choose whether to/or what updates to install.
This feature is, however, missing in Windows 10 Home edition, but you can search, download and install the 'GPEDIT-msc' file from the internet.
If GPE is up and running, in Windows 10,
- Open cmd in search and type gpedit.msc
- Open the following path: Computer Configuration>Administrative Templates>Windows Components> Windows Update
- Look for and open the file, Configure Automatic Updates
- Select Enabled at the top left corner
- Select option 2 to Notify for download and auto install. You will now have the power to deny updates from installing automatically.
Remember, you can choose to install the updates whenever you please.
5. Use NetBalancer to Block svchost.exe and Other Background Apps
If you feel uncomfortable fiddling around with your security and other settings, then NetBalancer is the ultimate tool for you.
You will be able to control the amount of data used by specific applications and processes. Second and most importantly, it works right away!
Data usage can be set to Low, Normal, High, Limit, Block and Ignore priorities. The Block option stops any running application or service from using any data whatsoever!
How to use NetBalancer
To use Netbalancer, download the trial version or pay upfront for the full application and install it.
Once connected to the internet, run the application and observe usage activity of all the services on the computer. You may want to give a while in order to observe the culprits. You should monitor the Download and Upload tabs in particular since those are the areas your data are being used up.
Click on the two tabs to sort the services in ascending and descending order so you see the highest to the lowest data gobblers.
Now to the best part.
To disable a service from using too much of your data,
- Right-click it
- Select Download priority and Upload priority
- Then click Block.
You can choose to only limit the amount of data being used by the offending services.
A reminder here is that the svchost.exe service is probably the most notorious data gobbler and you may want to block it immediately from downloading or uploading stuff.
The beauty with Netbalancer is that the settings you choose will remain effective for as long as the software runs on the computer. Unlike other tweaks mentioned above, Windows OS will not revoke its permissions even after restarting the computer.
This hack works all Windows up to 10.
- The svchost.exe service runs most of the background services. You may want to have it disabled straight away.
- While at it, beware not to block Service Traffic, for your internet connection will simply stop.
- Do not block antivirus software from acquiring new updates.
Which of the above solutions works best for you to control data usage?
Enable Updates or Download Service Packs
If you choose to disable automatic updates for one reason or another, remember to enable them after a few months in order to get your security patches.
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 because it entirely depends on automatic updates.
© 2016 Alfred Amuno