Windows Update keeps your system patched and safe with security updates.
In Windows 10, however, Microsoft also uses Windows Update to deploy minor quality updates once a month and major feature updates twice a year. This can overburden limited internet connections because Windows Update will download gigabytes of data. Since updates are applied automatically, restarts could also strike at inconvenient times.
Learning how to manage Windows Update will put you in control of your updates. Here we have compiled all of the hidden settings and tweaks that can help you keep interruptions, and surprising changes caused by Windows Update, at bay.
Pro Tip: Update to Windows 10 Pro
Several of the tips below are not available to Windows 10 Home users. If at all possible, upgrade to Windows 10 Pro because it offers additional features in regards to controlling Windows Update. You can buy the upgrade or apply an existing Windows 7 or 8 Pro product key to your current Windows 10 Home installation. Unfortunately, Windows 10 Pro is not a free upgrade.
As an intermediary step, you can use Microsoft’s free product key for upgrading to Windows 10 Pro to go from the Home to the Pro edition. However, this still requires proper activation, for example with a Windows 7 Pro key.
If you’d like to try that, here is Microsoft’s Windows 10 Pro key:
Head to Settings (Windows key + I) > Update & security > Activation > Change product key and enter the key above.
Enter the product key, then click Next. Windows 10 will then ask you to save your work and close your apps, before it restarts to apply the changes. This is like any other feature upgrade, which might change settings, but you won’t lose your data or your installed programs and apps.
Once the installation has completed, you’ll need to activate it with a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 Pro key.
Keep Windows Update Under Control
1. Save Bandwidth on Metered Connections
On a metered connection, Windows won’t download feature updates, though it might still download critical patches.
The “metered connection” option is the easiest method to consistently block most updates. It’s available on all Windows 10 editions, including Windows 10 Home. On early Windows versions, this tweak did not work if you were hooked up to an Ethernet cable. If you’re running the Windows 10 Creators Update (1703) or later, however, you can set both a Wi-Fi and an Ethernet connection as metered.
Note: You can only apply the setting while you are connected to the respective network.
To mark your internet connection as metered, head to Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi, select the network you’re currently connected to, and under Metered connection > Set as metered connection turn the switch On.
Note: You can always go to Windows Update and manually start the download and installation. Or you can go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced options and allow Windows to automatically download updates, even over metered data connections (charges may apply).
2. Pause Updates for up to Seven Days
Microsoft has added an option to temporarily pause updates. This setting is perfect for when you just need a quick break from resource-intense updates or when you don’t want Windows to proceed with installing an update it has already downloaded. This option is not available to Windows 10 Home users.
To pause Windows Update, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced options and under Pause Updates set the slider to On. Now updates won’t install for up to seven days or until you turn the option off.
Should you have had updates pending for a restart when engaging this setting, your Windows Update screen will now have a Resume updates button. Clicking this button will unpause updates.
Once the seven days are up, you will have to install any pending updates before you can pause Windows Update again.
3. Get Notified Before Updates Are Downloaded
You can make Windows 10 notify you when updates are available and manually trigger the download. This helps users with a low bandwidth or limited internet connection. Unfortunately, this trick only works if you have access to the Group Policy Editor, which excludes Home users.
Press the Start button, type Edit Group Policy, and open the respective result. Now head to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update and open Configure Automatic Updates. Enable the setting and under Configure automatic updating, choose 2 – Notify for download and notify for install.
The next time updates are available, you will see a notification in the Action Center that You need some updates. Selecting the message will take you to Windows Update, where you have to click the Download button to initiate the update process.
Note: Enabling this setting will disable some options under Windows Update in the Settings app, such as Notify to download (mentioned below).
This method was originally reported by Anand of The Windows Club.
4. Delay Updates Until They Are Safe
The following options are great if you only want to temporarily opt out of quality or feature updates. Delaying updates can buy you time and make sure bugs won’t affect you. After the grace period has passed, the deferred updates will be deployed automatically. By this time, however, Microsoft should have fixed any issues identified during the initial rollout. This option is not available to users of the Home edition.
Note: The defer upgrades setting used to sit in the Settings app. With recent feature updates, however, Microsoft moved it entirely to the Group Policy Editor.
How to Defer Feature Updates for up to 365 Days
In the Group Policy Editor (see instructions above), go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business and open the setting Select when Preview Builds and Feature Updates are received.
Set this policy to Enabled, choose your Windows readiness level (pictured in the screenshot above are options for the Windows 10 Insider Preview; your options may differ), and enter the number of days (maximum 365 days) for which you want to defer the Preview Build or Feature Update. Additionally, you can set a start date for the deferral.
How to Defer Quality Updates for Up to 30 Days
Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business and open the setting Select when Quality Updates are received.
Whish this setting Enabled, you can defer receiving quality updates for up to 30 days. You can also pause quality updates starting on a date of your choice, which will pause them for up to 35 days, i.e. 5 days more than deferring them.
5. Block Updates During Active Hours
Users who are running a current Windows 10 version can set active hours during which Windows Update will be blocked from restarting the device. The option is available under Windows Update > Change active hours.
Note: You are limited to a range of 18 hours.
6. Time the Installation of Downloaded Updates
Once Windows Update has downloaded new material, it’s a matter of hours until you have to restart and let Windows apply the updates. When you have updates pending, you can schedule a restart.
Go to Windows Update and next to the “restart now” button, select schedule the restart. After you set the option to On, you can choose a time and date up to six days in the future.
We highly recommend that you choose the advanced We’ll show a reminder when we’re going to restart (formerly “Notify to schedule restart”) option under Windows Update > Advanced options so that Windows won’t try to determine the best time to restart on its own. Otherwise, you could find Windows caught in what might appear to be an infinite update cycle as you return from your lunch break.
7. Completely Disable Updates
As a last resort, here’s the one method that will really turn off updates, either completely or until you reboot your computer. It’s available in all editions of Windows 10.
Go to Start, type Administrative Tools, and open the matching result. Open Services > Windows Update. Below Service status, click Stop to shut down Windows Update until you reboot. Under Startup type, you can select Disabled to prevent it from booting with Windows.
Remember to turn updates back on as soon as possible or proceed to manually install security updates.
Block Troublesome Driver Updates
Starting with Windows 10, Windows Update also handles driver updates. These updates can be particularly fragile because Microsoft only deploys standard drivers. Those drivers may break your individual settings or introduce problems, although the manufacturer version worked perfectly fine.
You can troubleshoot and block driver updates that have gone awry using Microsoft’s Show or Hide Updates Troubleshooter (direct download).
You can also manually roll back damaging driver updates, install new drivers, and block future driver updates, as we’ve covered in detail in our Windows 10 driver update guide.
Disable Automatic Microsoft Store App Updates
Not too long ago we published a lengthy tutorial on how to disable automatic updates for Windows Store apps. Shortly after, Microsoft made this option super simple for users of the Pro edition of Windows 10 (see above for upgrade tips); we updated the article.
Briefly, as a Windows 10 Pro users, you can launch the Microsoft Store, click the three-dotted menu icon (See more) next to your profile image, choose Settings, and turn Update apps automatically Off.
To manually trigger updates, go to See more > Download and updates, press the Get updates (previously “Check for updates”) button, and after the scan has completed click Update all or update individual apps by clicking the download arrow to their far right.
Choosing not to update Microsoft Store apps doesn’t have any security implications because these applications run in a sandbox that restricts interaction with the rest of the operating system. By sticking with an old version, however, you might miss out on bug fixes or new features.
A New Windows Update Is Coming Soon
The Windows 10 update mania is a blessing as much as it is a curse. On the one hand, Microsoft can constantly improve the operating system and bless users with new options and features to play with. On the other, updates may also have undesired consequences or remove old software and features you appreciated.
So, are you ready for the next Windows Update? What has been your most troublesome Windows Update experience so far? Note that if you run into problems, there are ways to resolve a stuck Windows Update.