Tech Tip of the Week: Prevent Windows Update From Automatically Restarting Your PC

By on December 16, 2009, 3:51 AM
Windows Update's automatic reboot can be one of the most annoying "features" in Microsoft operating systems. While it's a bit less pushy with Windows Vista and 7, allowing users to postpone the restart for up to four hours, you may not be at the computer to intercept the first or subsequent notifications.

In many cases this isn't a major deal. However, it can be frustrating if you step away from a work session and come back to a freshly rebooted system. You might also be downloading a large file or letting a lengthy operation run while away from your PC, expecting it to be finished upon return.


Fortunately there are various workarounds available. Today we will mention a few that have been tested to work in XP, Vista and Windows 7 systems.

Read our Tech Tip of the Week.




User Comments: 24

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Captain828 Captain828 said:

Great tip! I was actually installing an update when I saw the guide lol

Docnoq said:

Very handy. This very 'feature' is the reason I only let Windows Update notify me when updates are available. I hate when my bandwidth is all of a sudden eaten up by Windows Update when I don't tell it to run, and the automatic restart is even more annoying.

mrtraver said:

I don't usually mind the bandwidth issue, so I just set mine to download updates but let me choose when to install.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I set Windows to download but not install updates. This way I have full control over when they'll be installed, which is typically when I can afford to do a reboot.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

ET3D said:

I set Windows to download but not install updates. This way I have full control over when they'll be installed, which is typically when I can afford to do a reboot.

Yeah, that is typically what i do as well. I think this probably should have been included in the article as option as well.

foreverzero89 said:

i have never had a problem with this. i doesn't restart until you click on restart. otherwise it hangs there waiting for you to tell it what to do. that box is just a reminder.

tengeta tengeta said:

This is why I set up a Windows Domain server in my house. It forces all kinds of settings that knock these annoying things right out of the way as soon as I add a new system to the domain. Plus I'm a big fan of universal accounts.

saintbodhisatva said:

Cool, someone told me this tip before in passing, thanks for making it into an article. I'd definitely remember it more now.

tengeta said:

This is why I set up a Windows Domain server in my house. It forces all kinds of settings that knock these annoying things right out of the way as soon as I add a new system to the domain. Plus I'm a big fan of universal accounts.

I should start setting one up too, sounds like a good workaround.

Guest said:

Sometimes we see ourselves in the middle of so many tweaks and tips we got lost.

Just restart your system; it won't hurt anybody. And it's good to your system's health.

Greetings!

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Sometimes we see ourselves in the middle of so many tweaks and tips we got lost.

Just restart your system; it won't hurt anybody. And it's good to your system's health.

Greetings!

Obviously you haven't had any users of systems you manage complain about having to restart during the middle of a presentation, church service or other special function. We had this issue at our church where i am one of the IT guys where we had set the updates to run on Friday, but no one was using the computers between Friday and Sunday morning, so by the time they booted them, and windows was done downloading updates and wanted to restart they were in the middle of something important (like checking kids into the nursery or doing worship team practice). Needless to say we learned our lesson and made some changes to make sure that didn't happen again. :-)

Guest said:

With all due respect, God bless Windows (and the possibility to turn off automatic restarting)!

Cheers!

Guest said:

Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you! I've had my windows 7 computer for 2 days now and am in the process of a 100 gig file transfer but Win Update has decided it is time to shut down. I'm sorry, I'm in the middle of the second attempt at the download, updater killed it last time about 1/3 the way through. Now I can sleep without worry.

Guest said:

That's ok if you're going to be near the computer, but say you leave a large download downloading over night, you're not going to be able to keep clicking 'reset later' so these

work arounds are good for that.

Guest said:

hw do you do it when you're in school and that you are not the admin?

Guest said:

My own laptop tells me "access denied" when I try to do the net stop thingy on Windows 7. How do I get access? I should be admin of my own laptop right?

Guest said:

this was so helpful, I was running an intensive program overnight and the automatic update would have messed the whole thing up. didn't want to have to stay up to say postpone every 4 hours haha. thanks a lot

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Talk about keeping a old thread alive. Two postings a year is doing the job.

Guest said:

Three comments a year now! I've had this happen many times - thanks for the article. Very easy to follow your instructions. So presumably next time a box will pop up on the screen announcing that updates have been installed and asking whether I want to reboot the PC? I hope I don't have to go looking somewhere within the computer for that, as I'll no doubt forget to do so regularly...

Guest said:

THANK-YOU for being found first in google search, and for the tip on

Prevent Windows Update From Automatically Restarting Your PC.

it has been annoying me for years on my old XP machine many Sunday mornings....wake up to a blank desktop :-( ............I finally took the few minutes to see how to disable it.

Guest said:

I haven't tried this out yet, but I have a cunning plan.

I am running XP SP3 as a "Home User" so I suspect that the command

net stop "automatic updates"

will be what I need to use. However, I don't want to have to remember to type it in every time I start the computer, so I am going to put it into an AUTOEXEC.BAT

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I haven't tried this out yet, but I have a cunning plan.

I am running XP SP3 as a "Home User" so I suspect that the command

net stop "automatic updates"

will be what I need to use. However, I don't want to have to remember to type it in every time I start the computer, so I am going to put it into an AUTOEXEC.BAT

I can't speak for whether the command will work. However "automatic updates" is a Windows feature. The only way to turn on or off Windows features is to do so while Windows is running. If you added the command to autoexec.bat and autoexec.bat did load during boot, the lines would be executed before Windows starts to load. In essence you would not be changing anything by adding lines to autoexec.bat, that require Windows to be running. If anything you would be best off to do so through startup entries, or turn off automatic updates the correct way through Windows Update Settings.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I haven't tried this out yet, but I have a cunning plan.

I am running XP SP3 as a "Home User" so I suspect that the command

net stop "automatic updates"

will be what I need to use. However, I don't want to have to remember to type it in every time I start the computer, so I am going to put it into an AUTOEXEC.BAT

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". Hence I am grateful I know little to nothing about batch files.

That said, on one hand I suppose it's useful to be able to thwart Windows from restarting after an update. OTOH, I want the machine to restart and be done with it.

Besides, the first thing included in any program's installation instructions is this, "close any other running applications before trying to install this program"! I extrapolate that to mean Windows update is an "install", and work from there.

I've always accepted that as sage advice. Ergo, I boot up to an update session, with no other purpose in mind but to update Windows. Any of my updates are hand picked, after reading the description.

So, set the Windows Update adviser at, "notify me when updates are available".

Pick the updates you want or need.

Download the updates, let Windows do its install thing, and reboot.

That way, there's "no belts, no pads, and no pins", and no "tempest in a teapot" either.

Gilez said:

Great tip. My poor old computer only starts sporadically. Sometimes I leave it for a week and it will start first time, but then nothing for another week or two. Decided to bite the bullet and buy a new one but must first do a full backup to an external drive. Can't sit up all night telling Microsoft not to restart! This tip saved me so I hope by posting this message, the discussion will stay at the top of the search results on Google. Thanks Techspot.com

Fionn Croke Fionn Croke said:

Thanks very much, just used this tip :)

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