How to Stop Automatic Windows Updates

Updated on November 14, 2017
amuno profile image

Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

Block svchost.exe to drastically reduce data use
Block svchost.exe to drastically reduce data use

If you are thinking about stopping automatic updates from installing in Windows 10 and older versions, then you are probably in the right place. Yes, these periodic updates and hotfixes are aimed at patching security holes and adding new features.

While they are good and will ensure your computer runs optimally, they may become a problem because of the following reasons:

Buggy updates

Not every new update is a good one. Some will bring your computer down to its knees. 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!

Low and limited Internet data plans

Some countries charge exorbitant prices for internet and users prefer to stay clear of Windows updates to avoid costly bundles. This is particularly so for those that use limited data plans.

User has installed 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 such software and will keep doing so!

For this reason, they choose to disable updates so as not to get continous reminders, or even arrested!

The KB 971033 update in Windows 7 is one such tool that will smoke out pirate Windows installation.

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

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.

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 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.

You can follow this up by turning off Security and Maintenance notifications 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 of messages you want disabled from showing up in the notification area.

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 to Block svchost.exe

If you feel uncomfortable fiddling around with your security settings then NetBalancer is the ultimate answer to your problems.

It is a tool you can use to control the amount of data used by specific applications and processes, and it works right away!

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.

To disable an application or service from using much of your data,

  • Right-click it
  • Select Download priority
  • Then click Block.

A reminder here is that the svchost.exe service is probably the most notorious data gobbler and you may want to block it immediately.

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 earlier, Windows OS will not revoke its permissions even after restarting the computer.

Other Options

You can also use the following 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 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

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    Show All Categories