How to stop Windows from automatically restarting to apply updates [Guide]

Today and many times in the past, I was brutally attacked by Windows Update. A client of mine was having an issue with a VB macro and, an hour into fixing the problem, the computer decided to automatically restart to apply a Windows update. I am sure that you have been plagued by this problem too, so for my fellow dotTechies, I did a bit of digging and here is how to put Windows Update in its place. In other words, read on to learn how to disable Windows Update from automatically restarting your computer.

Before we go anything further, I just want to remind you that dotTech and its writers are not responsible for any damages to your computer or data or the mental breakdown that the damage may cause. We have tested this ourselves and feel it is safe to be, but still proceed further at your own risk.

This trick should work on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1; I tested it on Windows 8.

That said, to stop Windows from automatically rebooting to apply updates, do the following:

  • Open your Registry Editor. You can open it by pressing CTRL + R on your keyboard, typing in regedit and hitting OK or pressing Enter.

run-regedit

  • Once it is open, find the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Policies/Microsoft/Windows folder.

navigate-to-policies-micros

  • Single right-click the Windows folder and go to New -> Key and call it WindowsUpdate. If the WindowsUpdate key already exists, you can skip this step.

registry-new-key

  • Now create a new key inside WindowsUpdate (single right-click on the WindowsUpdate folder -> New -> Key) and call the new key AU.

create-registry-key-au

  • Now create a DWORD (32-bit) Value for the AU key; call it NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers. To create a DWORD, single left-click the AU folder from the left-hand pane, right-click the large white area (the right pane of the regedit window, not where the folders are) -> New -> DWORD (32-bit) Value.

new-dword-value

  • Double left-click the NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers key and set the Value data to 1 and the Base is Hexadecimal. Hit OK when done.

set-dword-value

  • Close regedit and restart your computer.

Done! Now you shouldn’t see Windows Update forcing your computer to restart to apply updates. If you ever want to re-enable automatically rebooting to apply updates, simply delete the WindowsUpdate folder you created earlier. Enjoy!

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8 comments

  1. melen001

    I did just like you indicated but it’s not working for me…. i wonder what went wrong??? I deleted the created key and did it again and still does not work…. please tell me what can i be doing wrong???

  2. Godel

    I know it’s a bit late for poor old XP, but after every update and when it started nagging me, I’d click Start and type ” sc stop wuauserv” in the Run box (minus quotes). This killed the windows update service until the next reboot.

    Is there an equivalent in later versions? Admittedly you have to do it every time, but once a month isn’t too onerous.

    You might have to do this from Administrator account.

  3. Daniel Lovejoy

    I had actually done this before, but yesterday’s update still forced my computer to shut down – 48% into a data recovery operation I was performing. I double checked my settings and they were still there. Auto restart should not have happened.
    There was nothing that I could do to stop it once it started. I tried the entire 10 minute warning they gave me.
    So – I had to restart the data recovery process again, resulting in a lot of repeat work. That 48% represented almost 2 1/2 days of scanning.

  4. Darcy

    I’m with the others on deciding what updates to download myself but I still applaud this. Windows update is the single most annoying thing they do IMO. Before I started disabling automatic updates, I lost any chance at a large contract when Windows decided to interrupt the program I left running for a reboot. That’s actually why the first thing I do is disable Windows update service on my computers.

  5. Mags

    Sorry Ashraf but I’m with Leslie on this one. I like to see what the updates are first and then decided what I don’t want, (i.e. Bing etc., like Leslie.) If the time is inconvenient for me to download and install the updates, then I don’t download and install. I do it later when it is a convenient time.

  6. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@Leslie] Because that means you have to manually trigger the download/install. By doing what Justin has described, updates are downloaded automatically and installed as needed; some updates can be installed without reboot while others require reboot. The trick Justin described makes it so Windows doesn’t FORCE you to reboot — updates are still installed WHEN you reboot, however.

  7. Leslie

    Hi, why not just go the “Windows Update Settings” and click on “check for updates, but, let me decide whether to download and install them”. I always create a manual restore point before installing updates, and like to see what’s being updated (NO bing add-ons, etc).