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How to Stop Windows Updates from Installing Automatically

Updated on September 11, 2016
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Alfred is a long time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

Often times you want to stop your computer from imposing itself when it chooses to install operating system and application updates randomly and automatically. Yes, installation of these updates is a good thing and will ensure your computer runs optimally and safe, but sometimes you want to reserve the right to choose when this happens.

These periodic updates and hotfixes are aimed at patching security holes and adding improvements to existing installations. Even better, they prepare your computer for future installations. It is much like updates to computer BIOS settings which besides fixing existing hardware and compatibility bugs, prepares the computer for new hardware.

Why Many Users Want to Tame Automatic Updates

Despite everything positive about automatic Windows updates, below are some disadvantages:

  • Installation of buggy Patch Tuesday updates

Not every new update is good update, with some capable of bringing the computer to its knees. Remember Flame espionage malware KB 3004394, KB 2823324, KB 2670838 and Excel patches KB 2553154 and 2726958? These are but a few of botched Patch Tuesday updates that may hit your computer hard if it has been running fine.

Buggy updates are known to mess up working features and disabling programs that have been working fine.

Windows 10 Threshold 2 update of 2015, reportedly uninstalled some 3rd party applications which the operating system deemed incompatible with the computer setup!

  • Usage of much Internet data

Some countries charge exorbitant prices for internet and users prefer staying clear of Windows updates to avoid costly bundles.

  • Effects on pirate software

Users of pirated copies of Windows operating systems and other applications also feel outdone by automatic updates. This in no way condones piracy, but lots of folks out there willingly run counterfeit software and will keep doing so!

For this reason, they choose to disable updates in order to avoid being caught by updates such as KB971033 in Windows 7.

 This is what happens when update KB971033 installs in a computer running a pirated copy of Windows 7
This is what happens when update KB971033 installs in a computer running a pirated copy of Windows 7

Have you ever used pirated copy of Windows operating system in your computer?

See results

Do you still use it even now?

See results

If, however you choose to go the rogue way to block operating system updates in your computer, the following steps should get you going.

1: Disable Windows Update in Security Settings

You can disable Windows updates by visiting 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 the same when in Metro interface or use the Power User Menu
  • To use the Power User Menu, press the Windows key + X keys on the keyboard and select Search and type ‘windows update’
  • Hit Enter

Windows 10 users do not have the option to disable automatic updates using this option. You may want to look at the second option below.

Windows will direct you to System and Security page where you can choose to disable updates if it is enabled.

  • Click Change settings
  • In the next window scroll to Never check for updates (not recommended) option.
  • Click OK

You can follow this up by turning off Security and Maintenance messages in Action Center. Otherwise you will get bombarded with endless security messages telling you to enable updates.

  • Type action center in Start button search box
  • Inside the System and security page, click Change Action Center settings
  • Untick the check-boxes you want disabled from messages

You can choose to turn off security and maintenance messages
You can choose to turn off security and maintenance messages

Better still, 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 Notification Area Icons page, click Turns system icons on or off
  • Scroll down to 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 effect a stronger blockage to automatic updates. Microsoft operating system gives special permissions through Services to enable and disable all kinds of Windows processes.

Thus, to stop any service from running, including the update service, simply STOP it from running!

To access the service tool in Windows 7click the Start button in Taskbar and type ‘services’ in the search box.

  • Click the Start button in Taskbar and type ‘services’ in the search box
  • In Windows 8+ and 10 hit the Windows + X keys on the keyboard and select Search
  • Alternatively use the Taskbar search box in Windows 10 to initiate your search

Turn Sartup type to Disabled to disable automatic Windows update
Turn Sartup type to Disabled to disable automatic Windows update

The Services page will open with a list of services that currently run in 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

Stay warned that by disabling this feature your computer will not benefit from Windows and program updates.

3: Use NetBalancer

If you feel uncomfortable playing around with security settings and services or you feel other applications are eating at your data plan even after you have disabled Windows updates, then NetBalancer is what you need.

NetBalancer is typically an internet and data control tool which allows you to apportion download and upload priorities options to running processes in the computer. It places you in charge of data flow, giving permissions to disable, enable or limit the amount of data used by specific applications and processes.

NetBalancer streams real-time data usage statistics of services and applications in chronological order while listing the highest to the lowest data use culprits.

It allows you to control download or upload data usage to Low, Normal, High, Limit, Block and Ignore priorities.

Download NetBalancer from here:

NetBalancer allows you to control data use by select applications and services
NetBalancer allows you to control data use by select applications and services

Other Options:

You can also use these two tools to disable windows automatic updates:

  • Group Policy Editor
  • Registry settings
  • If disabling updates turns out cumbersome, as in Windows 8, make sure to disable them during the installation process.

Enable Updates or Download Service Packs!

If you choose to disable automatic Windows updates for one reason or another, remember to enable it after a few months in order to download the pending updates.

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 of Windows, Windows 10 is not designed to install standalone service packs. Windows 10 depends on automatic updates to keep your computer safe from security and other exploits.

Windows Service packs are available here:

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