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Before we start, let me make something clear: performing maintenance on your computer is vital 5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy 5 Laptop Maintenance Tips To Extend Its Life Expectancy Laptops are replaced every few years. We crave fancier hardware, novel features, and maybe our old device has become unresponsive and suffered some damage over time. Consequently, most laptops get thrown out prematurely. Unless you... Read More . It’ll prolong the life of your hardware and save you hours of frustration.

In Windows 10, Microsoft has provided a tool that does much of the hard work for you. It’s called Automatic Maintenance. However, it’s not without its flaws. You might want to take maintenance into your own hands instead.

Unfortunately, unlike previous iterations of the operating system, there is no easy way to turn off the feature.

Or is there? In this article, I’ll show you how to disable Automatic Maintenance and introduce you to some ways to manage the processes yourself.

What Is Automatic Maintenance?

Microsoft is a bit vague when describing exactly what the Automatic Maintenance does. On the company’s website, it says the following:

“Maintenance includes keeping Windows and applications up-to-date, checking security, and running scans for malware.”

It’s important to distinguish Automatic Maintenance from other maintenance tools found within the operating system. They include a host of mini-tools within the Control Panel (Control Panel > Administrative Tools), as well as other tools that are bundled into the Security and Maintenance app (Control Panel > Security and Maintenance).

How to Configure Automatic Maintenance

To configure the Automatic Maintenance settings, head to Control Panel > Security and Maintenance > Maintenance > Automatic Maintenance > Change maintenance settings.

windows 10 automatic maintenance

On the following screen, you can choose the time you want Automatic Maintenance to run at each day, as well as choosing whether to allow Windows to wake your computer up to perform the tasks.

That’s it. There are no further options, and as mentioned, no way to turn off the Automatic Maintenance feature.

The Problems With Automatic Maintenance

Maintenance is important, but Automatic Maintenance is not necessarily the best tool for the job. It’s due to the way it works.

Once you’ve scheduled a time for your maintenance, your PC will try to begin the task for up to one hour. The maintenance will only start if you’re not using your machine. If the maintenance is not successfully started during the hour, Windows will defer the task to a later date.

But what exactly is a later date? Well, according to Microsoft, Automatic Maintenance will restart the task during the next “idle” period.

maintenance laptop
Image Credit: garagestock via Shutterstock

So, let’s paint a picture. Your maintenance is scheduled for 2 am each day, but your computer is switched off at that time. At the start of the day, you fire up your machine and start working. Because the PC is in use, maintenance won’t start.

But what happens at lunch time? As you head off to the cafeteria for a snack, your machine becomes idle. The Automatic Maintenance will fire up. Your CPU usage will rocket, components will heat up and — unless you own a top-end PC — Windows will become more sluggish How to Increase Windows 10 Performance and Make It Feel Faster How to Increase Windows 10 Performance and Make It Feel Faster Windows 10 runs pretty fast -- but you can make it even faster! We'll show you free tweaks to increase speed and performance. You'll transform Windows 10 from slow poke to Usain Bolt in 12... Read More .

When you return to your desk for the afternoon, the maintenance will suspend itself. But your computer needs time to settle down — a lot of tasks have just been unexpectedly interrupted at the same time. It’s like when you try to do too many things at once immediately after startup.

In the worst case, your computer could even crash, potentially resulting in a lot of lost work.

The solution is to prevent Automatic Maintenance from running in the first place. You need to turn it off.

How to Turn Off Automatic Maintenance

Disabling Automatic Maintenance requires you to edit the Windows registry What Is The Windows Registry Editor & How Do I Use It? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is The Windows Registry Editor & How Do I Use It? [MakeUseOf Explains] The Windows registry can be scary at first glance. It’s a place where power users can change a wide variety of settings that aren’t exposed elsewhere. If you’re searching for how to change something in... Read More . As you probably know, making errors when editing the registry can have grave consequences for your system. In the worst case, you might not be able to boot your machine at all.

Before proceeding, make a complete backup of all your valuable data The Best Backup Software for Windows The Best Backup Software for Windows Your data is fragile – it only takes one small accident to lose everything. The more backups you make, the better. Here we present the best free backup software for Windows. Read More . Ideally, you should also create a system restore point How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 Space wasted to a full recovery partition is a thing of the past. System Restore and Factory Reset have improved in Windows 10. We show you how it all works now. Read More .

To begin the process, open the registry. The easiest way is to open the search bar, type regedit, and hit Enter.

In the left-hand panel of the registry, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows NT > CurrentVersion > Schedule > Maintenance.

windows 10 regedit schedule

Now focus on the right-hand panel and locate an entry called MaintenanceDisabled. Right-click on the entry and choose Modify.

windows 10 regedit modify

A new window will appear. You need to change the Value data field to 1. Click OK when you’ve made the changes, and restart your machine to ensure the changes take effect.

windows 10 regedit dword

If MaintenanceDisabled Doesn’t Exist

If you can’t see MaintenanceDisabled, don’t worry. Making your own registry entry is easy.

Right-click anywhere in the right-hand panel and select New from the context menu. On the next menu, click DWORD (32-bit) Value.

windows 10 regedit new

Call your new entry MaintenanceDisabled, then right-click on it and choose Modify. As per the instructions above, you need to make sure the Value data field is set to 1.

How to Turn Automatic Maintenance Back On

The changes you just made to the registry entry are easily reversible.

If you change your mind and decide you’d like to re-enable Automatic Maintenance, reopen the registry editor, head back to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows NT > CurrentVersion > Schedule > Maintenance, and set the DWORD value back to 0 (zero).

How to Maintain Your System Manually

If you choose to disable Automatic Maintenance, you will have to manually perform maintenance tasks on your operating system. Thankfully, many of the tasks performed by Automatic Maintenance are also available as standalone tools.

Defragmentation

Windows has included a defrag tool for almost as long as it’s existed.

Head to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Defragment and Optimize Drives, and highlight the drive you want to defrag. Click Optimize to start the process. It could take a long time, depending on the amount of data on your hard drive.

windows 10 defrag

Malware Scans

You can run a Windows Defender scan Make Windows Defender More Effective by Flipping One Setting Make Windows Defender More Effective by Flipping One Setting Windows Defender is a fine antivirus, but you can make it even stronger in the Creators Update. Here's how to up its detection levels. Read More at any time. In the Windows 10 Creators Update, the tool is easier to use than ever. It now forms part of the new Windows Defender Security Center App.

To get started, locate the app in your Start Menu, open it, and click Virus and threat protection from the menu on the left. Expand the Windows Defender Antivirus Options and flick the toggle next to Periodic scanning.

windows 10 antivirus

Windows Updates

To manually check all the most recent Windows updates are installed, navigate to Start > Settings > Update and security > Windows Update > Check for updates.

You can continue working while Windows Update downloads and installs upgrades in the background, though you will probably need to restart your machine to complete the update process.

windows 10 update

Best Third-Party Tools for System Maintenance

Remember, you can always supplement the native Windows tools with third-party apps. We covered some of the best free tools in a previous article:

  1. WinDirStat
  2. CCleaner
  3. Geek Uninstaller
  4. Malwarebytes
  5. Speccy

Check out that article to learn more about the tools and how they can enhance your operating system.

Do You Use Windows Automatic Maintenance?

I’ve shown you how to disable Automatic Maintenance and offered some ways you can stay on top of system maintenance if you want to do it manually.

Do you use Automatic Maintenance or take responsibility for your own upkeep? Have you ever experienced any of the problems with Automatic Maintenance that I described?

As always, you can leave all your stories in the comments section below. And remember to share the article with your friends on social media.

Image Credit: Art_Photo via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Wayne Cornish
    July 21, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Just wondering, i have 6 OS , installed, 3 of them Windows 10,s. This article raises my curiosity, i have not previously realised, until now, all have been set to run auto at 2 am. Without going through the hassle of setting new times, at a time i can observe, does anyone know what happens when all 3 try to do their maintenance at the same time?

    • Gr8Gonzo
      July 21, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      This is an absolutely terrible idea.

      1. You don't need to disable automatic updates to run any of the manually.

      2. Even if you have the good intention of manually handling updates, you will inevitably forget or even let it slide and end up behind on updates, leaving you vulnerable to exploits that would have been patched faster with automatic updates.

      3. If the automated maintenance schedule isn't running at the right time because you have a consistent schedule, then the better option is to change the time that it runs, NOT disable it!

      4. If your computer is only powered on during the workday, and you are trying to avoid the sluggishness during updates, then manually running the updates isn't going to help since your schedule means that you would be running it during your workday anyway. And if you haven't run it in a while, then it can take much longer to run, which impacts your workday even more.

      5. Getting ransomware on your computer from an unpatched vulnerability is going to be a lot worse than any minor inconvenience.

      Bottom line: just schedule your automatic maintenance to start running at the end of your normal usage hours. If you want to save power, you can schedule a sleep or shutdown task.