How to Turn off Automatic Updates in Windows

Updated on April 9, 2018
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Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

Using NetBalancer, you can block svchost.exe to turn off windows updates
Using NetBalancer, you can block svchost.exe to turn off windows updates

If you wish to turn off automatic updates 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.

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:

Buggy updates

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.

This is what happens when update KB 971033 installs on a computer
This is what happens when update KB 971033 installs on a computer

Below are steps to turn off automatic Windows updates.

1. Disable Windows Updates in Security Settings

Do this by opening the security settings of your operating system.

Windows 7:

  • 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).

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
  • 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.

Windows 10:

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.

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

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,

Windows 8.1:

  • Press Windows key + I to access the charms bar
  • Click Change Settings
  • Toggle Set as metered connection, from Off to On

Windows 10:

  • 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 Turn Off Other Windows Updates

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.

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

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.

Tips:

  • 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?

See results

Enable Updates or Download Service Packs

If you choose to turn off 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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Alfred Amuno

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Camille0 

        5 months ago

        Great tips! In the latest version of Windows 10, there is new feature that allows to limit the bandwidth for windows update's foreground/background downloads.

      • profile image

        slope johnny 

        8 months ago

        updated steps (hopefully last time)

        I followed these steps and haven't heard from windows update since: (running windows 10 pro)

        ***you may want to create restore point before you start***

        1) uninstall the windows installer program (which randomly installs itself) from add and remove programs (program features) Don't let it finish installing... if it's not in the list then it's already uninstalled

        2) uninstall all updates from view installed updates list (some won't be able to be removed)

        3) under advanced windows update options, mark defer updates

        4) go to services (type services.msc into run box) and go to windows updates in list and double click it and on start up type click disable. hit stop service status just below start up type. then recovery tab, first failure change to take no action.

        5) type gpedit.msc into run box and navigate to computer configuration/administrative templates/windows components and double click windows update then double click configure automatic updates. disable it then apply and ok

        6) type regedit windows run box and under hkey_local_machine/SOFTWARE/policies/microsoft/windows.

        - right click on windows folder and add key. rename new key to windows update

        -right click on windows update folder (you just made) and add key. name this one AU

        -right click AU and add new DWord (32 bit) value

        -go to right screen and rename newly made DWord to NoAutoUpdate

        -double click NoAutoUpdate to edit it and add 1 to value data space (which will turn on no auto update) hit ok

        7) go to task scheduler and click on task scheduler library/ microsoft/windows/ and then scroll to update orchestrator and double click it.

        under name column in center window, right click all scheduled tasks and processes and disable them all. then right click on each and go to properties and head to triggers tab and delete all triggers including custom triggers.

        now go back to task list where you found update orchestrator and scroll down to windowsupdate and delete triggers for scheduled start process and disable. (i also disabled and deleted triggers for automatic app update)

        8) go to local disk(c:)/windows/system32/tasks/microsoft/windows/update orchestrator

        rename Schedule Scan to Schedule Scan.bak and then create a Schedule Scan folder

        9) restart computer

        now if you go to advanced windows update options it should say your device is up to date and never check for updates

        i followed these steps and haven't seen windows update lately

        will update again if this ceases to work

      • profile image

        slope johnny 

        8 months ago

        *** Update***

        follow steps in other post up until 'we delete schedule scans registry key'

        it doesn't work because schedule scan folder in registry just re-installs itself.

        so forget about that. instead go to local disk(c:)/windows/system32/tasks/microsoft/windows/update orchestrator

        rename Schedule Scan to Schedule Scan.bak and then create a Schedule Scan folder

        next go to windowsupdate in task scheduler (task sheduler library/microsoft/windows/windowsupdate) and delete triggers for scheduled start process and disable. i also disabled and deleted triggers for automatic app update

        after doing these steps i haven't seen or heard from windows update

      • profile image

        slope johnny 

        8 months ago

        UPDATE: just to let y'all know... i can tell you my experience with the deadly 'windows update installer' virus.

        i have had decent success so far with following these steps:

        first, you have to uninstall the windows installer program (which randomly installs itself) from add and remove programs (program features) Don't let it finish installing...

        then uninstall all updates from view installed updates list (some won't be able to be removed)

        then under advanced windows update options, mark defer updates

        then go to services (type services.msc into run box) and go to windows updates in list and double click it and on start up type click disable. hit stop service status just below start up type. then recovery tab, first failure change to take no action.

        then gpedit.msc into run box and hit computer configuration, administrative templates, windows components, windows update double click then double click configure automatic updates. disable it then apply and ok

        then regedit windows run box and under hkey_local_machine, SOFTWARE, policies, microsoft, windows.

        - right click on windows folder and add key. rename new key to windows update

        -right click on windows update folder (you just made) and add key. name this one AU

        -right click AU and add new DWord (32 bit) value

        -go to right screen and rename newly made DWord to NoAutoUpdate

        -double click NoAutoUpdate to edit it and add 1 to value data space (which will turn on no auto update) hit ok

        then go to task scheduler and click on task scheduler library, microsoft, windows, and then scroll to update orchestrator and double click it. under name column in center window, right click all scheduled tasks and processes and disable them all. then right click on each and go to

        properties and head to triggers tab and double click all triggers and then disable. delete all custom triggers. now, the only task which will turn itself back on when computer restart is schedule scan. to get rid of this we delete schedule scans registry key.

        head to regedit.exe and locate HKeyLocalMachine, SOFTWARE, Microsoft, Windows NT, CurrentVersion, Schedule, TaskCache, Tree, microsoft, windows, update orchestrator and then right click schedule scan folder and export (make a backup). after export delete schedule scan folder.

        you may want to create restore point before you restart.

        i have done all of these steps and i have had no problems. the little fucker windows update installer hasn't come back yet over a week but if it does the next step for me will be to treat the windows update installer as a virus

        and i will add it to be blocked to windows firewall and and hopefully that will work.

        there is more detailed information online on how to all of the steps above if needed but you should be able to figure it out

      • profile image

        slope johnny 

        9 months ago

        delete the custom triggers also in task scheduler

      • profile image

        slope johnny 

        9 months ago

        just to let you all know... i can tell you my experience with the deadly 'windows update installer' virus.

        i have had decent success so far with following these steps:

        first, you have to uninstall the installer program from add and remove programs

        then uninstall all updates from installed updates list (some won't be able to be removed)

        then under windows update advanced settings, mark defer updates

        then go to services and windows updates and double click it and on start up type click disable

        then gpedit hit computer configuration then administrative templates and then windows components and then windows update double click then double click configure automatic updates. disable it then apply and ok

        then regedit under hkey_local_machine, SOFTWARE, policies, microsoft, windows.

        - right click on windows folder and add key. rename key to windows update

        -right click on windows update folder (you just made) and add key. name this one AU

        -right click AU and add new DWord (32 bit)

        -go to right screen and rename newly made DWord to NoAutoUpdate

        -double click NoAutoUpdate to edit it and add 1 to value data space (which will turn on no auto update) hit ok

        then go to task scheduler and click on task scheduler library, microsoft, windows, and then scroll to update orchestrator and double click it

        right click all scheduled tasks and disable them all. right click then go properties and then triggers and double click then disable. disable all triggers for all scheduled tasks.

        i have done all of these steps and the little fucker windows update installer hasn't come back yet over a week but if it does the next step for me will be to treat the windows update installer as a virus and i will add it to be blocked to windows firewall and also not allow it to have internet access and hopefully that will work.

        there is detailed information online on how to all of the steps above if you want to look it up

      • profile image

        Christie 

        9 months ago

        Windows 10 is cancer. And cancer will touch every child or loved one of the people who made this terrible Operating System.

      • profile image

        Chad 

        9 months ago

        Just like Chris said; these instructions cannot be followed in Windows 10

      • profile image

        Chris 

        9 months ago

        Update your instructions, this is not complete and can't be followed. My search for a solution continues:

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

        Click Change settings.

        In the next window, scroll to the Never check for updates (not recommended) option.

        Click OK."

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