Stop Windows 10 from restarting automatically due to Windows Update settings

Stop Windows 10 from restarting automatically due to Windows Update settings

Just like previous versions of Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1),  Windows 10 creates a restart wake timer upon installing Windows Updates. This wake timer is forced (waking the PC from sleep or hibernation) and might lead to loss of work sessions and disruption to user activity.

An example wake timer for system restart set by Windows Update
An example wake timer for system restart set by Windows Update

Solution: Prevent automatic updates so that no restart wake timers are created.

I have two solutions, but which you use depends on your Windows 10 build. First let’s find out your Windows build.

Find out your Windows 10 build

Right click on Start and select Run. In the Run window, type winver and hit ENTER:

Right click on Start and select Run. In the Run window, type winver and hit ENTER

1.2 ‘About Windows’ is displayed. The latest build number is 14393.321 (as of Oct 2016):

If your build starts with ‘10240’ e.g. 10240.xxx, use solution 1.

If your build starts with ‘10586’ e.g. 10586.xxx, use solution 1.

If your build starts with ‘14393’, e.g. 14393.xxx, solution 1 will not workuse solution 2.

 'About Windows' is displayed. The latest build number is 14393.321 (as of Oct 2016)

Solution 1: for builds 10240.xxx – 10586.xxx

Steps to follow:

1 Click on Start > Settings:

Click on Start > Settings

2 In Settings, Click on ‘Update & Security’:

In Settings, Click on 'Update & Security'

3 On the Windows Update tab, click ‘Advanced options’:

 On the Windows Update tab, click 'Advanced options'

4 In ‘Advanced Options’, change the setting for ‘Choose how updates are installed’ to ‘Notify to schedule restart’ (this is the same as ‘Let me decide when to install Updates’ seen in XP, 7, 8, 8.1):

In 'Advanced Options', change the setting for 'Choose how updates are installed' to 'Notify to schedule restart' (this is the same as 'Let me decide when to install Updates' seen in XP, 7, 8, 8.1)

From this point on you’ll have to manually install the updates by going to the same Windows Updates settings. Once you’ve installed the updates you can choose to Restart now or schedule the restart (at this point, you’ll probably want to choose ‘Restart now’ to prevent the system from setting wake timers):

w10_wu_autotoman_stepimpt

*Explanation for solution 1: With the above steps you would have successfully disabled Automatically-installed Windows Updates and its subsequently created restart wake timer which is triggered within 24 hours after an automatic update installation, or within 24 hours after a forced user postponement of the previously-configured scheduled restart time (i.e. clicking postpone on a restart popup prompt). This solves a major problem of a loss of work progress when the system restarts your Idle/Sleeping/Hibernating PC with all your documents/programs running. While I understand Microsoft’s agenda to ensure security updates are most promptly installed on an average user’s system, I believe we as more advanced users can handle the responsibility of managing the security of PCs with little to no disruption to user activity.

Solution 2: for builds 14393.xxx (Anniversary build)

Solution 1 has stopped working since the Anniversary build. But they’ve always left room for geeks to configure their system. So here it is:

1 Right click on Start and select Run. In the Run window, type gpedit.msc and hit ENTER:

Right click on Start and select Run. In the Run window, type gpedit.msc and hit ENTER

2 Navigate on the left pane: Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update:

Navigate on the left pane: Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update

3 Double-click the setting ‘Configure Automatic Updates’:

Double-click the setting 'Configure Automatic Updates'

4 In ‘Configure Automatic Updates’, Change the setting to ‘Enabled’. Under the ‘Options’ box, under ‘Configure automatic updating’, select ‘3 – Auto download and notify for install’ or ‘2 – Notify for download and notify for install’ (whichever you prefer). Ignore the other settings below as they only apply to option 4 (which we hate). Click OK.

In 'Configure Automatic Updates', Change the setting to 'Enabled'. Under the 'Options' box, under 'Configure automatic updating', select '3 - Auto download and notify for install' or '2 - Notify for download and notify for install' (whichever you prefer). Ignore the other settings below as they only apply to option 4 (which we hate). Click OK

5 Right-click on Start and select Command Prompt (Admin):

Right-click on Start and select Command Prompt (Admin)

6 In Command Prompt (Admin), type gpupdate /force and hit ENTER:

*Explanation: This will update the system with the policy changes you made earlier.

In Command Prompt (Admin), type gpupdate /force and hit ENTER

7 If you see the messages ‘Computer Policy update has completed successfully. User Policy update has completed successfully.’ Then you’re all set!

If you see the messages 'Computer Policy update has completed successfully. User Policy update has completed successfully.' Then you're all set!

8 From now on, you will get toast notifications or popups that occasionally that remind you of available Windows Updates.

Clicking on the toast notification will bring up Windows Updates in the Settings App, where you can manually install Windows Updates.

From now on, you will get toast notifications or popups that occasionally that remind you of available Windows Updates.

9 We have successfully disabled Automatic Updates. No Windows Updates will be installed automatically, therefore no wake timers for system restart will be created.

*IMPORTANT: As I mentioned in the introduction, every time Windows Updates are installed, whether manually or automatically, Windows 10 will create the forced wake timer to restart the computer. The point to remember is whenever you have manually installed Windows Updates, immediately restart your system in order to avoid that newly created forced wake timer from ever triggering wakes to restart your system (which makes perfect sense –  you have saved all your work, and now ready to install updates, and then restart).

Conclusion

For security reasons, Microsoft wants more control over how updates are installed, and now gives the user no easy control over whether we should decide when updates are installed. In this era with data compromises and security breaches, there hasn’t been a time when security and privacy has been more relevant than now, so I understand there agenda. But better security need not mean more disruption to user activity and productivity – a statement that, hopefully, would hold true to the day with smarter Windows OSes that require no restarts for Windows Updates.