How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

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It’s happened to all Windows users. You’re using your computer and Windows decides you need to reboot, hassling you with pop-ups that continue to bug you all day long. If you step away from your computer and miss the pop-up, Windows will automatically reboot your computer. You may come back to your computer and find that all your open programs are gone, as Windows decided to reboot without your permission. This can be maddening.

There’s a good reason for rebooting after updates, as rebooting ensures that security updates actually take effect. But Microsoft has gone too far — they shouldn’t be hassling Windows users and rebooting their computers without  permission. Windows 8 handles these forced restarts with a longer grace period, but still pesters you and eventually reboots your computer automatically.

Disable Forced Restarts With a Registry Hack

You can prevent these automatic restarts from happening by performing a quick registry hack. This trick will work on all versions of Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and even Windows XP. Windows will update normally if you perform this trick, but will not automatically reboot when you’re logged into your computer. You should still reboot after an update, but you can do it on your own schedule.

First, you’ll need to open the Registry Editor. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog, type regedit into it, and press Enter.

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open registry editor   How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

When the registry editor appears, navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU registry key.

You’ll likely find that the last two parts of the key — the WindowsUpdate\AU parts — don’t yet exist. You’ll need to create them yourself.

To do so, right-click the Windows key, point to New, and select Key. Type WindowsUpdate and press Enter. Then, right-click the WindowsUpdate key, point to New, and select Key. Type AU and press Enter. This will create the correct registry key structure.

prevent updates from rebooting windows   How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

With the AU key selected in the left pane, right-click in the right pane, point to New, and select DWORD (32-bit) value. Type NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers and press Enter to name the new value.

create noautorebootwithloggedonusers   How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

Double-click the value you just created and type 1 into its value data box. You can then click OK — you’re done in the registry.

stop windows from automatically rebooting   How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

You can now reboot your computer and your policy changes will take effect. However, you probably don’t want to reboot your computer! Luckily, you can make these changes take effect without rebooting.

First, open a Command Prompt window as Administrator. On Windows 8, press Windows Key + X and select Command Prompt (Admin). On Windows 7, open the Start menu, search for Command Prompt, right-click the Command Prompt shortcut, and select Run as Administrator.

open command prompt as administator   How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

Run the following command to make your changes take effect immediately:

gpupdate /force

apply group policy changes without rebooting   How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

Disable Forced Restarts With Group Policy

If you have Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise version of Windows, you can make this tweak in an easier way. Most Windows users won’t have this option and will have to use the registry-editing method above. Both of these tweaks work in the same way, but the group policy editor is a bit more user-friendly.

First, open the Local Group Policy Editor. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog, type gpedit.msc into the dialog box, and press Enter to open it.

open local group policy editor gpedit.msc    How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

Navigate to the following folder in the left pane: Computer Configuration\Administrator Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update

group policy prevent updates from rebooting windows   How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

In the right pane, double-click the “No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic update installations” setting. Set the setting to Enabled and click OK.

no auto restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic update installations   How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

After changing this setting, either reboot your computer or run the gpupdate /force command in the way we mentioned above.

Manually Install Windows Updates

Rather than using the Windows registry or Group Policy, there’s a low-tech way to prevent updates from automatically rebooting your computer. All you have to do is change your Windows Update settings. Simply open the Windows Update control panel window and set Windows to “Download updates but let me choose whether to install them.”

Windows will inform you of updates via a system tray icon and notification bubble. When you’re ready to install them, you can click the icon and have Windows install them — they should install fairly quickly, as Windows will download them in the background ahead of time. When the updates are done installing, you’ll be prompted to reboot.

With this method of installing updates, you can have Windows install only updates when you’re actually ready to reboot your computer. If you see the update notification, you can ignore it until you’re ready to reboot — Windows won’t automatically install the updates and start nagging you or restart your computer without your permission.

download updates but let me choose whether to install them   How To Disable Forced Restarts After A Windows Update

Why Microsoft Made This So Hard

Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t make this easy — in fact, they buried this option deep in the registry and group policy editor where only Windows system administrators will normally be able to find it. The automatic-rebooting “feature” was added to Windows XP in the darkest days of Windows security, and Microsoft was desperate to ensure people who installed updates rebooted quickly so more nasty worms like Blaster and Sasser wouldn’t spread. We live in a different world these days, and Windows is secure enough that we can afford to wait a bit before rebooting if we’re in the middle of using our computers.

Microsoft attempted to make this less of a hassle with Windows 8, but they didn’t go far enough as Windows 8 will still automatically reboot your computer. At the very least, this setting should be much easier to change.

This isn’t the only headache in Windows, either. To make Windows hassle you less, consult our guide to getting rid of other Windows annoyances.

Image Credit: Pete on Flickr

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13 Comments - Write a Comment

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AriesWarlock

Thanks, this is useful. Now, anybody knows how to stop a windows 8 PC to wake up from sleep?? It tends to wake up automatically at 3 A.M.

Gordon Hay

This is the automatic maintenance function starting – the default setting is for 0300 hrs and to wake the computer if necessary. To change this go to the Action Centre and expand the Maintenance tab, click on change settings then either choose a different time (when your computer will normally be in use) or un-check the “wake computer” box.

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NOT Chris Hoffman

“Disable windows updates” says every malware creator everywhere! Does ANYONE ever think before taking this advice?!!

grandad

You are NOT being advised to disable Windows updates but to manually install them. This is sound advice as it is best to wait and see what problems show on the web. Microsoft are not infallible and serious side effects can occur. Of course, if you are not disciplined enough to monitor blogs etc and do the installs, then continue to allow automatic updates.

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Jo-anne P

You are a god, thank you so much for this done and brilliant. Thanks

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Chuck Babbage

This is not advice to be followed or to be given out lightly in a forum like Make Use Of and the author should have consider the serious problems editing the Register can cause before writing an article like this.

Editing the Register is not for the unknowing and Microsoft makes this difficult and cryptic for a reason. One can do a lot of damage and make their computer completely unusable if they make even a simple error in editing the Register.

This is not “hipster hacking” like applying a filter to your Instagram snaps. Editing the Register in Windows can and will cause a lot of problems if done wrong.

grandad

Editing the Registry is simple and straightforward. Just exercise great care when doing so! What is missing here is instructions (or at least a reference) to backing up and/or restoring the Registry.

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Bob

Thank you for the Group Policy method. It led to me change something else that had been bugging me.

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Frank P

I’m glad that you added the manual update option, not everyone can fork out gigs of data to update their machines.

Reply

rony009

Hey i have faced the same problem but i resolved the problem with the help of this link..
http://www.microsoftsupportchat.com/blog/post/Disable-Automatic-Forced-Restart-After-Windows-Update-Windows8-Home-Edition/

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gary

To say I Hate windows auto update would be an understatement. I could be in the middle of a presentation and suddenly that abusive popup. It was like mommy telling you it was bed time or something in the middle of a great movie. The nerve of Microsoft to force anyone to do anything with their property. Can we be treated like adults? Thank you!

Cami

That was totally in my thoughts too! And I lose my s*** every time it updates on its own.

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