Keep Windows Update From Restarting PC

| December 4, 2012 | 8 Comments

Updating your computer is a very vital step taken to protect from security exploits and malware in general.  It is something that has to be done on a regular basis to keep your computer running as smooth as possible.  But…. one of its very unfortunate side effects is to remind you to restart over and over.  Granted, 7 and Vista gave us the option to push back the restart reminder for hours, but XP wasn’t quite as lucky.  What if you are in the process of downloading an ISO, watching a movie, Skyping with someone oversees, or anything else that you don’t want interrupted?  How do you get that annoying popup to stop bugging you today, or forever?

Updates Installed, Restart Please

You have done your monthly duty and installed all the available updates recently pushed out my Microsoft and the pic above, or the prettier version, are staring you in the face, mocking you.  Demanding you restart your PC as soon as physically possible, calling your mother names….Well, maybe not quite that bad, but you get the idea.  What should we do if we do not want to completely stop these messages from ever showing but need it to stop bugging us today, or until after we restart our machine?  Simply go to the Command Prompt and enter net stop “windows update” and hit ENTER.  You should see it go through the few lines of dialog as shown below.  Once the Windows Update service is stopped, it will not bug you for a restart again until the service restarted via the computer restarting or you manually restarting the service.

Turn This Thing Off Forever!

The above is great when you are in a pinch and need to use your computer after it has installed updates for a little while.  What if you are sick and tired of Windows either demanding a restart or automatically doing it by itself whenever the timer reaches “0″?  Then we attack this service at its source.  To do so we must enter the depths of the Windows architecture and travel to Group Policies.   To do so:

Windows XP/Vista/7: Go to the Start Button, click or search for Run, type gpedit.msc. in the Run Command box, once the Group Policy Window opens click on Computer Configuration, then Administrative Templates, followed by Windows Components, and finally Windows Update.  Enable “No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Updates installations” and exit the Group Policy Window.

Once the above is completed, no longer will you have to put up with Windows trying to tell you when to restart your machine, or giving you a time limit to finish your work.  It will not affect the way that Windows Update operates.  You will still be able to install updates and have Windows manually download or install them.  It will just turn off the annoying popup and timer.

Summary

Whether you need to stop Windows from restarting your machine for a little bit or for good, now you have the knowledge to do either one.  Making Windows work the way you want it isn’t always possible, but these steps outlined above can be completed by any skill level.  As long as you don’t dally around in the Group Policy editor and do as shown, all will be OK.  It is still recommended after updates to do a restart to allow the updates to take hold and complete.  Some Windows Updates cannot be fully completed since some of the services are being used at the time and they require a restart.  For these reasons, it is always good to throw in a restart whenever convenient after updates to allow the services to refresh.  As always, it is a good idea to have a fresh backup of any important files before playing with the Operating System to avoid any catastrophes.

Category: Windows

Rob Walls

About the Author ()

IT Admin in Southern Illinois. Previously Apple Certified Technician with 9 years in the IT/repair world. Writer for PCTechbytes.com and assist in the forum.Have a PC/Mac issue, check out our helpful forums

Comments (8)

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  1. Tried to do this in Windows 7 and Windows couldn’t find gpedit.msc. I Googled around and discovered that some Windows 7 editions (Home Premium, Home Basic and Starter) don’t come with Group Policy Editor. Only Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions come with Group Policy Editor installed.
    I’ll have to stick to the command line trick you gave.

    • Rob Walls Dr_Bob says:

      Huh, I’ll be honest on this one, only tried it on 7 Pro and didn’t think about the rest of the 7 Family.

      Thanks for pointing that out to myself and fellow readers!

  2. Ken says:

    May i ask what option is available to us Win7 home users? I do not want my pc restarting overnight automatically after doing downloads! I guess it is your suggestion to constantly be typing —net stop “windows update” — every time i reboot? Since i reboot several times a day… this is less than ideal—- I would appreciate any guidance about this issue for my home version of Win7– thank you.

    • Rob Walls Dr_Bob says:

      From this link: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-windows_update/i-want-to-turn-off-the-automatic-restart-for/88191194-d3e7-428d-a2a5-89e427756ccc

      “IF YOU CAN’T USE gpedit.msc THEN YOU CAN USE THE FOLLOWING REMEDY!

      1) Open the Registry Edit
      (WindowsKey + R, “regedit.exe”)
      (Remember to be careful! DON’T change anything unless you know exactly what you’re doing!)
      2) Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU
      * Chances are, if you can’t access gpedit.msc you’ll be missing these keys! *
      If keys WindowsUpdate\AU exist, go ahead to step 3!
      OTHERWISE, continue through these indented steps…
      A) Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
      B) (Make sure the above key is highlighted and) go to the edit menu and choose New > Key
      C) Name the key WindowsUpdate
      D) Now, repeat the above steps, except highlight WindowsUpdate and name the next keyAU
      3) With WindowsUpdate\AU highlighted, create a new 32-bit DWORD calledNoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers
      4) Right click on your newly created value and give it a value data of 1 (hexadecimal)
      5) Double check all the steps to make sure you did everything EXACTLY how I explained it
      6) Close Registry Editor… You’re FREE! :D

  3. Jeska says:

    I thought it was “necessary” to restart after an update…is that not the case anymore?

    • Rob Walls Dr_Bob says:

      Immediately after most Windows Updates, it is not necessary but should be done at your earliest convenience. Depending on what components were updated, you may need to restart before that particular thing will operate normally.

  4. Jeff says:

    I tried this on 2 of my 4 machines running XP, on both machines I got system error 1060 has occurred, “the specified service does not exist as an installed service.” I got a similiar when trying gpedt routine.

    • Rob Walls Dr_Bob says:

      Did you check services.msc to make sure that Windows Update is running and not disabled? Did you try the regedit as mentioned above in my reply to a comment about XP/7 Home builds?

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