Is there ever a good time for Windows Update to run? It’s necessary to keep your system patched and install security updates. But you might not want to waste time and internet bandwidth on minor quality patches or undesired feature updates.
Learning how to manage Windows Update will put you in control of your updates. Here we have compiled the various settings and tweaks that can help you keep interruptions—and surprising changes caused by Windows Update—at bay.
Some of the tips below are not available to Windows 10 Home users. If at all possible, we recommend upgrading to Windows 10 Pro because it offers additional features in regards to controlling Windows Update.
Unfortunately, Windows 10 Pro is not a free upgrade. You can buy the upgrade, or apply a valid Windows 7 or 8 Pro product key to your current Windows 10 Home installation, if applicable. See our guide to generic Windows 10 product keys for more info on possible upgrade paths.
Now, let’s look at how to pause Windows 10 updates using several methods.
On a metered connection, which is any connection that has a data limit, Windows won’t download updates in most cases.
This “metered connection” option is the easiest way to consistently block most updates. It’s available on all Windows 10 editions, including Windows 10 Home.
To mark your internet connection as metered, head to Settings > Network & Internet. On the Status tab, select Properties under the network name you’re currently connected to.
Then, under Metered connection, turn Set as metered connection on. You can also choose to Set a data limit, though this isn’t necessary if you’re not on an actual metered connection.
When you do want to install updates, you can always go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update to Check for updates, which will manually start the download and installation.
On that page, you can also click Advanced options and enable the option to Download updates over metered connections, which will effectively disable the metered method of limiting updates.
See our guide to setting your Windows 10 connection as metered for full information. Just keep in mind that you can only apply the setting while you’re connected to the respective network.
If you need to block your computer from installing all updates for a time, you can use the option to pause updates for up to a few weeks. This is a built-in option available in all Windows 10 editions, as long as you’re on a modern version.
To pause Windows Update, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update. You can click Pause updates for 7 days to block updates for a week; it’s also possible to extend this time by clicking again later.
If you want to pause for a longer amount of time, click Advanced options instead. Under Pause updates, use the dropdown box to choose a date up to 35 days from today. Updates won’t install until this day hits—and at that time, you’ll have to install all available updates before you can pause again.
When updates are paused, on the main Windows Update page, you can click Resume updates to get back to normal.
You can make Windows 10 notify you when updates are available, then manually trigger the download. This helps anyone with limited bandwidth or a spotty internet connection. Unfortunately, this trick only works if you have access to the Group Policy Editor, which excludes Home users (under usual circumstances).
To open the Group Policy Editor, press the Start button to open the search bar, then type Group Policy and open the Edit Group Policy result. With the editor open, head to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update and open Configure Automatic Updates.
Set the option to Enabled, then under Configure automatic updating, choose 2 – Notify for download and auto install. For another option, try 4 – Auto download and schedule the install, which lets you use the options below to choose when updates install automatically.
With option #2 selected, next time updates are available, you’ll see a notification 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 that enabling this setting will disable some options under Windows Update in the Settings app. This is because turning on the Group Policy tweak mentioned tells Windows that Some settings are managed by your organization and thus restricts them.
The following options are great if you want to temporarily opt out of quality or feature updates for Windows. Delaying updates can buy you time and make sure bugs won’t affect you, since major Windows 10 releases tend to have issues at launch.
After the grace period has passed, the deferred updates will be deployed automatically. By this time, however, Microsoft should have fixed any issues that popped up during the initial rollout.
The options to defer upgrades used to sit in the Settings app. Nowadays, though, they’re in the Group Policy Editor. As such, this option is not available to users of Windows 10 Home.
In the Group Policy Editor (opened the same way as explained above), go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business.
Here, open the setting Select when Preview Builds and Feature Updates are received. Set this policy to Enabled, then you’ll need to choose your Windows readiness level. The normal setting is Semi-Annual Channel, but you can set it to something faster if you want preview updates or similar.
After this, enter the number of days (up to 365) that you want to defer preview builds or feature updates. Additionally, you can set a start date for the deferral, if you want. Remember that feature updates are the major Windows 10 updates that launch roughly twice per year.
As opposed to major feature updates, quality updates are smaller Windows 10 patches that arrive more frequently. To adjust this, go to 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, if you prefer.
The latest editions of Windows 10 let you set active hours, which are the times you’re regularly using your computer. During this period, Windows Update won’t restart your device to install updates. The option is available under Settings > Windows Update > Change active hours.
You can enable the slider to Automatically adjust active hours based on your activity, if you prefer. Windows will also recommend times based on when you typically use your PC.
Otherwise, click Change to tweak the times when you’re normally active. This is limited to a range of 18 hours, so you can’t keep it on 24/7.
Once Windows Update has downloaded new updates that require a reboot, it’s a matter of time until you have to restart. When you have updates pending, you can schedule a restart instead of letting Windows decide when to do it.
To do this, go to the Windows Update page in Settings, as mentioned before. Next to the Restart now button, select Schedule the restart. Set the option to schedule the restart to On, then you choose a time and date that works for you. Windows will use this instead of restarting on its own.
For best results, we recommend that you also enable the Show a notification when your PC requires a restart slider under Windows Update > Advanced options. With this, you’ll get more notifications about restarting so you can delay a restart that Windows prompts on its own.
Without this, you could find Windows caught in a long update cycle when you return from a break.
As a last resort, here’s the one method that will fully turn off updates, either completely or until you reboot your computer. It’s available in all editions of Windows 10.
Go to Start, type Services, and open the matching result. Find the Windows Update service in the list and double-click it.
Below Service status, click Stop to shut down Windows Update until you reboot. Under Startup type, you can select Disabled to prevent it the service from starting when you boot Windows. This will prevent Windows Update from running until you turn the service back on manually.
If you do this, remember to turn updates back on as soon as possible to protect your computer with security patches.
In Windows 10, Windows Update also handles driver updates. In the latest versions, you’ll see them under a separate section of the Windows Update page, which you have to click View all optional updates to see. Expand Driver updates to review the list of possible drivers that may fix problems.
Otherwise, Windows should only automatically install new drivers when needed. If you need to manage them manually, see our guide to updating your drivers in Windows 10. Microsoft’s Show or Hide Updates Troubleshooter tool, which used to let you block driver updates in Windows Update, is no longer available as of this writing.
We’ve focused on how to manage Windows Update for system updates here. If you’re interested in a similar level of control over your apps, have a look at our full tutorial for turning off automatic app updates in Windows 10.
Keep in mind that the same caveats apply here. Turning off app updates can be useful in cases where the latest version is buggy or has other issues. But regular updates help keep the software on your machine safe, so you shouldn’t neglect them for too long.
Now you know how to pause updates in Windows 10 whenever needed. Most of the time, automatic updates are great, since they keep your device secure without any input. However, if you need to keep your PC from restarting or fear problems in the latest version, blocking updates for a short time can help.
Just make sure you install updates before long, as leaving your PC unpatched is a security risk.