// Internet Duct Tape

Configuring Windows Automatic Update to use manual installations

Posted in Microsoft Windows XP and Vista, Technology by engtech on July 12, 2006

Is it Monday again already? I don’t recommend starting the work day with finding out the stupid Windows machine on your desktop has rebooted itself because of automatic updates.

It wouldn’t be as bad if my VM Ware Linux installation automatically saved my session on a reboot. But instead it requires upwards of 30 minutes wasted re-tweaking the programs I use day-to-day.

The solution is simple, turn off the auto-install option for Windows Automatic Updates. But who thinks of reconfiguring that option until experiencing data loss? I’m not unreasonable in my expectation that my computer should never reboot itself without my permission.

I understand the reason why it’s configured like that by default. If Windows Automatic Updates didn’t automatically install and reboot by default then 80% of the Windows machines out there would never have updates installed. It doesn’t mean I have to like it.

If you leave your computer on all the time with open applications in a custom setting, then you should change the default setting.


Here are the steps for configuring Windows Automatic Update to use manual installations.


  • Find Control Panel in the Start Menu
  • Start Menu - Control Panel
  • Find Windows Automatic Updates in the Control Panel
  • Automatic Updates
  • Choose the manual install option from the Windows Automatic Updates control
  • Turn off automatic installation

Related Links (Outgoing)

More Stupid Windows Features

18 Responses

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  1. Howard Chamberlain said, on July 21, 2006 at 3:33 am

    I don’t want any “help” from M$. I would like to get rid of the aggrivating threat that I am not set up to receive “Automatic Updating”. If I were smarter I probably wouldn’t use M$ ware.

  2. […] Configuring Windows Automatic Update to use manual installations and stop rebooting the friggin’ computer […]

  3. […] Configuring Windows Automatic Update to use manual installations and stop rebooting the friggin’ computer […]

  4. […] Configuring Windows Automatic Update to use manual installations and stop rebooting the friggin’ computer […]

  5. Adrian said, on September 13, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    I want the updates installed automatically but I want to reboot when I’m ready. Why is this not possible?

  6. engtech said, on September 13, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    Because they’re idiots.

    What I don’t understand is why they won’t let me ignore the “Reboot Now or Later” notification for more than 5-10 minutes at a time.


    That’s why manual installs are best… avoids headaches because you can ignore the update until such a time as you are ready to reboot.

  7. […] Configuring Windows Automatic Update to use manual installations and stop rebooting the friggin’ computer […]

  8. […] Configuring Windows Automatic Update to use manual installations and stop rebooting the friggin’ computer […]

  9. webmasterbyname said, on November 07, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    There IS a way to have the updates installed automatically, but it requires a bit of XP tweaking (I can’t remember where I read this, so here it is):

    1) Leave Automatic Updates in Control Panel set to “Automatic”
    2) Start > Run
    3) gpedit.msc (This opens the Group Policy editor)
    4) Navigate the tree: Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update
    5a) The two entries “Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations” and “Delay Restart for scheduled installations” are probably the most useful. You can set times (in minutes) to whatever you like. Note: choosing “disabled” doesn’t disable the feature at all – just returns it to the default value (5 or 10 mins)
    5b) You can get a short explanation for each setting here by clicking on the “Extended tab” at the bottom of the window
    6) Reboot the computer – the change won’t take effect until you do

    Note: this only works on Win XP Pro or MCE. XP Home doesn’t have the Group Policy editor.

    PS I found the source at jimcofer.com


  10. engtech said, on November 12, 2006 at 6:26 am

    Nice one, Jon. I’ll have to try that out. It would be nice if I could just change the time to something reasonable (like in hours) rather than 5 minutes.

  11. omgwtfbbq said, on January 07, 2007 at 5:58 am

    You wish it was so simple, but setting your automatic updates via GPO to download and install, but not reboot, only prompt about a pending reboot, is not possible.
    As an example, the forced IE7-update was apparently so important, that it after a number of reminders decides to reboot anyway. The only way you really can be safe from dataloss on servers mostly, is to disable the automatic updates.
    You wont like it when your server-park starts rebooting after getting a forced IE-update, as if that was ever needed on a server anyway.

  12. engtech said, on October 10, 2007 at 9:54 am

    LifeHacker links to a program that will automatically change the settings for you.


  13. […] The title alone makes me want to say “Like what? Rebooting the computer without asking me or asking me every five minutes when I click the ‘Later’ button?” The default settings for Windows Update will reboot your computer without your permission and can cause …. […]

  14. […] My new Mac’s just arrived! Hi, Here are some articles about these automatic updates from windows, http://internetducttape.com/2006/07/…installations/ Regards, ———————————————————– Gerard Espinas "What […]

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