Preventing Windows Update from rebooting your computer

One of the features designed to help beginners that ends up annoying the hell out of anyone else is the Windows Update "Restart your computer now?" nag. We look at a few ways to stop it.

Automatic Updates Nag For the absolute beginner, Windows Update provides a very important function: the need to keep your OS updated as a way to prevent disaster. While other OSs (such as Ubuntu) take a friendlier to the user approach, Windows will nag you every 10 minutes to restart the machine, and absent any user input, will restart it automatically. This is fine if you left the computer on without shutting down, suspending or hibernating; however, if you are in the middle of a lengthy task, such as rendering, compiling or downloading, a reboot would turn your microcosm upside down. You need to prevent it, but how?

There are two ways to go about it:

1. Temporary solutions

  • The fastest and quickest is to type in a Command Prompt sc stop wuauserv or net stop "windows update". This will stop the nags for the time being, but everything will start again on reboot.
  • The same effect as above can be achieved graphically: Start->Control Panel->Administrative Tools->Services->Automatic Updates->Right-click->Stop.
  • Suspend the process using pssuspend: pssuspend wuauclt

2. More permanent solutions

  • Vista WindowsUpdate Nag On Windows, you can modify a group policy setting to change how frequently it re-prompts you. In Group Policy Editor (start -> run type gpedit.msc), look under Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Update. The settings of interest are Re-Prompt for restart with scheduled installations and No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Updates installations. Be sure to read the explanations provided by Microsoft in the Extended tabs, as the way GPedit works is often counterintuitive.
  • The same effect as using gpedit can be achieved by directly modifying the registry. Obviously, this is not something you should be attempting if you can use the above method or if you are not a power user. In the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU key create a new 32-bit DWORD value named NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers and give it a value of 1 to prevent automatic reboot while users are logged on
  • Download WUNoAutoReboot.reg and 2X click it.
  • Use AutoBoot Remover.

Do you know any other methods? Speak up!

Sources: StOFwu, lhwu, thtgwu

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