Disable restart after Windows Automatic Updates

This article is a step-by-step guide how to disable automatic restarts caused by Windows Update.

Michael PietroforteMVP By Michael Pietroforte - Mon, July 17, 2006 - 74 comments google+ icon

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor of 4sysops. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) with more than 30 years of experience in system administration.

Update: I covered  this topic in more detail here: Turn off automatic Windows Update reboots

The Windows Automatic Updates feature is great, however those nagging reboot reminders can drive you crazy. I can only recommend to turn this off.

Usually, this restart now/restart later pop up appears when I am doing something important or when I have some remote connections open. I also like it if Windows rebooted automatically during my lunch break while several virtual machines are running.

In my view this feature doesn’t bring in extra security. All these pop up windows warning about security issues are more or less useless. People get used to them, and click on them automatically. In this way these pop-ups might even decrease security. If there ever is an important security message, the user will just click away without really reading it because he is trained to do so.

So here is how you can turn off the restart reminder of Windows Update:

  1. Click Start -> Run
  2. Enter “gpedit.msc”
  3. Go to Local Computer Policy -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Update
  4. Double-click on “Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations” “No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Update installation”
  5. Disable it! Enable it!
  6. Reboot the computer

Disable_restart_with_scheduled_installationsYou can also change the default setting of “Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations” to remind you once a day, or so if you can still stand these pop-ups. If you want to change this for your whole network, you can use Group Policy. For security reasons, I recommend that all computers should be turned off after work or office hours.

Via AdGlobe Tech Blog

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74 Comments- Leave a Reply

  1. Sébastien Zimmermann says:

    Hey Michael,

    I agree the nagging popup is annoying–I hate it myself–but eventually the user will get tired of clicking “restart later” and restart the computer… or do a search online and read your post, which I did.

    Now, if they do disable the feature totally as your post mentions, that’s definitely the least secure option: they won’t even know that they have a pending reboot and could end-up waiting for weeks without restarting.

    There is an option in the group policy settings to keep the setting enabled, but to decide the interval at which the popup will show up. IMHO, it’s better to leave it enabled and let the popup show up less often than not at all (the maximum setting for this is 1440 minutes or 24 hours)

    This popup shows up because files couldn’t be replaced as they are in use. If they are in use, it means this code is loaded and running on the system, which means that the vulnerability is there and loaded in memory. If the vulnerability is critical ans has to do with network operations, that could leaves the machine very vulnerable to attack because even though the update package was run, the update is not installed… That gives a false sense of security.

    It’s always better to install and reboot immediately, but if the user is going to choose not to, it’s better to install now and reboot as soon as possible.

    Windows Vista will include a restart manager, which will prevent many of those disruptive popups. According to the website (www.windowsvista.com), “When an update applies to a file in use, Windows Vista can save the application’s data, close the application, update the file, and then restart the application.” There is additional information on MSDN.

    That said, thank you for the post; this popup was indeed driving me crazy, and I’ve been looking for a way to change this setting for a while. And I’m actually glad there is a way to just change the wait time rather than disabling the feature altogether. I am setting mine to popup every 4 hours because I can’t always reboot when I am in the middle of something with 30 windows opened.

    Thanks!
    - Sébastien

  2. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Sébastien, thanks for the comment. Microsoft introduced this auto-reboot feature because in the US many people don’t turn off their computers at night. This doesn’t only costs energy, but is also a high security risk. You don’t need this auto reboot feature, if you shut down the computer after work. There are very rare cases where one should really reboot immediately, for example, when a new computer worm is spreading over the internet. Most of the time, a reboot is not necessary for security reasons. This way the pop up window reduces security since people become used to clicking it away. When the time comes that a reboot is necessary after an update, they won’t be doing it, anymore.

  3. azurecharm says:

    Great tip to get rid of this annoying pop up. Just wondering why gpupdate /target:computer did not work to avoid reboot!!

  4. Dave says:

    Thank you for this tip. The restart your computer popup is a usually a complete waste of time, I know there’s an update pending, but if it’s not urgent, I’ll reboot when I feel like it, especially if I’ve got some important jobs running on my computer!

  5. Chris says:

    There is slight technical errors on the message you posted here. And there are two ways you can do this, either enable

    1) “Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Update/No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Update installation” in Group Policy

    or

    2) or create a DWORD value of 1 in regedit: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU\NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers.

    Please refer to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/328010, “How to configure automatic updates by using Group Policy or registry settings”

  6. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Chris, thanks for the hint. I changed my post.

  7. illy says:

    YOU MUST KNOW…….
    This only applies to XP Pro, and not XP Home edition.

    XP Home – even after changing registry key, still pops up the damn message.
    The only thing I could think of right after was to Start->Control Panel->Security Center->Automatic Update and then find Automatic Updates at the bottom and switch it to a “less secure” option.
    I haven’t tried the other “less secure” option yet, so I guess I will have to wait some time to tell if my current one is ok.

    It’s popped up on me while I was doing extremely important stuff that could not be stopped, and man, I wanted to murder whomever decided to put this code in.

  8. Dude says:

    You gotta reboot to bring it into effect anyways, wtf

  9. Raymond says:

    XP Home users don’t have gpedit.msc. Fortunately, there is a regedit hack. http://computer-vet.com/weblog/2005/05/20/windows_automatic_reboots.html

    It should also have a DWord value called RebootRelaunchTimeout. If it doesn’t, try making one. (Have not tried this with XP Home, but it just might work.) Set this as high as you can.

  10. Cliff Johnson says:

    This doesn’t work.

    I enabled this policy last time windows started to nag me, about two weeks ago.

    Today, it started to reboot on it’s own once more. I re-checked this policy setting and it is still enabled.

    I hate Microsoft.

  11. Philipp says:

    Courtesy of lifehacker.com:
    Works with XP Home!
    To stop this service, open [Command Prompt] (Start>Run>cmd>Enter) and type the following command sc stop wuauserv. This will not prevent Automatic Updates from starting at the next boot. So don’t worry, you’ll keep getting Windows updates. Just don’t forget to restart eventually.

  12. James says:

    Thank you! I’ve been annoyed a lot with automatic 5 min countdowns, which end up being a scattered attempt at wraping up work before my PC kicks me off – how rude! In fact, I just got auto-booted last night about 3AM when I was running a 14 hour report…Can’t Microsoft be intuitive enough to see if the CPU and HDD is kicking to not restart?

  13. Anonymous Coward says:

    1. The Group policy thing will only take effect next time you log in. Same goes for the registry key. Changing either of these things will NOT stop popups that are bugging you right now — it will only stop it happening in future.

    2. “net stop wuauserv” will stop the window bugging you NOW. It will NOT affect it happening again.

  14. Charles says:

    One last correction: Setting the “Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations” To any value other than “Enabled” with your time between prompts entered causes it to default back to 10 minutes between prompts. Again, setting this to “Disabled” sets it to 10 minutes between prompts instead of getting rid of the prompts altogether.

  15. Photon Junky says:

    Latest Link for KB on MS.
    “How to configure automatic updates by using Group Policy or registry settings”
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/328010/

  16. Mic says:

    Thank you very much, this stupid auto reboot already ruined one of my motherboards.. first bios flash failed in windows, and before I could attempt a second the computer rebooted while I was out of the room for a few min.

  17. Classified says:

    Thanks this help a lot. I have the PC running Video editing programs over night and wake up to fine it rebooted… sucks.

  18. TOM says:

    Excellent post.Thnx

  19. Jon says:

    gpedit will change the setting this time round but once you reboot your PC the group policy for your domain will be pushed to the PC by active directory and this setting will revert to what it was before.

  20. Michael Pietroforte Michael says:

    Jon, you should talk to the admin managing Group Policy to make this change system wide.

  21. rick says:

    Thanks a lot for the tips.
    Yesterday when I am downloading a huge file from ftp site and expect to work on it today. At morning I found my machine got rebooted. Now I need another 10 hours to download it and how could I explain the delay to my customer.

    The reboot will drive people crazy and make them hate microsoft.

  22. notlol says:

    gpedit.msc only works on XP Pro. to disable in xp home go to control panel, admin tools, services and stop the “automatic updates” service. (dont worry, it will turn back on when you restart)
    but you have to do this every time the popup comes up i belvie

  23. Reilly says:

    Thanks for this!
    As a gamer, it gets very annoying, very quickly, to have a full-screen game minimised every 10 minutes when you’re in the middle of something.

  24. Jared says:

    THANK YOU Phillip for the sc stop wuauserv thing! Thank you for freeing me from the antics of Mr. Naggy McNaggerson forever!!!

  25. thankful says:

    many thanks!!!

  26. Rob says:

    thank you, soooooooooo much!!!!

  27. Dave says:

    FAIL. First I press the start button, there is no “run” so I type it in the search bar, it pops up so I click it… then I type gpedit.msc but Windows cannot find gpedit.msc

    why do people make these fake blogs!? just to waste my time? well you wasted it congrats!

  28. ryan says:

    it’s already been said that gpedit.msc is only in xp pro, not xp home. so that’s why you couldn’t find it. so yeah.. it wouldn’t have been a waste of your time if you would have read comments.. so, fail on your part? :P

  29. Dan says:

    I came to this site via a google search too! The restart later has long annoyed; however, my workaround solution (and I don’t know this is applicable for group policy settings – I am an individual user) is to simply download the updates but not install them. Instead, installing automatically through the shut down option with the PC. On the occasions when I install them before shutting down, I used the suggestion by Phillip and it works fine – the beauty of it being that I don’t have to reboot my pc to get it to work.

  30. James says:

    It does bring in extra security. You have to reboot for the security updates to take effect. If you do not reboot or consider it a “nag” and dismiss it or even set local policy to not even ask you, then you’re in the same place you were before the windows update downloaded and installed the updates: insecure to the new threat(s) it was to have taken care of.

    Just reboot and be done with it. Its not a big deal.

  31. Steve says:

    No, it is a big deal. One of the above posts mentions a fantastic example. Long running jobs can take any amount of time. Rendering a length animation. Running a computationally important report. Make up your own example. Most of these peg the CPU and thrash the disk plenty so anyone can tell the computer is in use.

    When you have the choice of running the report overnight and running it during the day everyone takes the overnight option so they’ll have the report ready first thing in the morning.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I need to restart a report and start waiting.

  32. Pete says:

    Thank you so much for this! My machine restarted (again) in the middle of the night when I had some important jobs running and I was incensed when I woke up to find a fresh desktop. I’m wondering who at Microsoft thought it’s a good idea to reboot a machine that has programs and files open?

  33. jason says:

    just do this

    control panel
    windows secrity
    auto updates

    select turn off auto updates or set how u want.

  34. Disabling automatic updates is a very bad idea because it makes your PC insecure. Turning off auto-restart as described in the article is much better.

  35. Orvelo says:

    This is useful for me, since we’re using WSUS and we dont want every employee to get annoying pop-ups all the time, and that would probably clog up our IT-support channels since they would “whine” to get them to stop from disturbing their work! This resolves many problems!

    THANKS!

  36. James says:

    30- A word of warning on installing automatically through the shut down option.
    I’ve found a few times this has caused problems getting the machine to work again.

  37. wha? says:

    Does everyone else have that option? The only thing mine has is
    *remove access to use all windows update features
    *do not display ‘Install updates and shut down’ option in shut down windows dialog box
    *do not adjust default option to ‘install updates and shut down’ in shud down doalog box

    I dont’ see no auto restaurt for scheduled updates or anything close to that…

  38. wha, you are in the wrong folder. You are in “user configuration” but the settings are in “computer configuration”. In Windows 7 the name of the policy has changed slightly: No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations.

  39. hm says:

    Thanks a lot,
    I do lots of simulation over night and some times this stupid auto-reboot ruins my work!

  40. William Vincent says:

    Same as a couple others. After a couple weeks, Win7 began notifying and restarting again, as before. Group Policy setting is still just as I set it. Sometimes, I hate Microsoft, too.

  41. Sponge says:

    I’m trying to accomplish this ‘fix’ and keep coming across these guides. However, I have Windows 7 Home Premium and it doesn’t have gpedit.msc. Any suggestions as to an alternative (which doesn’t include disabling AU)?

  42. Frances says:

    I have the same problem as Sponge. There is no Group Policy Editor in Windows 7 Home Premium. Does anyone have a work around?

  43. Tanya says:

    I am also having the exact same problem right now. I have Windows home and I’m trying to download a really large file, and now cannot go to bed thanks to this “thoughtful” updater…

  44. nenad says:

    hahaha.
    step #6 – ironic!

  45. DDR says:

    Thank you!

  46. ianam says:

    “Just reboot and be done with it. Its not a big deal.”

    What a retard.

  47. Big Morty says:

    Unbelievable. I was 62 hours into a 65-hour video render/export, thanking fate that there hadn’t been a power surge or outage in the last three days. And then I get a Windows-induced power outage! When I checked the status, the program was no longer running, and I had a polite little note that explained to me that Windows 7 had rebooted for me, to install all of the necessary updates. I could even click the little bubble for more details. Joy! :)

    This is f’ing ridiculous. I realize that Microsoft sees most of its users doing nothing more complex or important than sending email and writing Word documents and playing minesweeper. But for those of us out here that would actually like our machines to tackle bigger tasks, an auto setting like this is absolutely indefensible. And if you try to defend it, you’re just as moronic as the policy itself. I am a small business that can’t afford to lose three days to utter incompetence. And before you begin to lecture me on the critical nature of these (usually very UN-critical) updates, please consider this:

    The odds that a virus or security issue will damage or destroy my video project are relatively low.

    The odds that rebooting in the middle of my render will ruin the video ARE 100%!!

    You’ve not prevented my failure – you’ve guaranteed it!

    … okay … take a breath … rant over …

    Thank you so much for this article. I’m curious, though, if this is what I need. I wasn’t pestered with annoying requests to reboot. I wish I was! I just checked it to find that it had AUTOMATICALLY rebooted.

    So will this setting be all I need? Are there any other settings I need to turn on or off to prevent this from happening again?

  48. David says:

    Had my W7 laptop reboot on me just now, in the middle of work. Didn’t even give me time to close and save what I had open! Nearly committed to reinstalling for fear of hijack, then realised this is just the latest MS brilliance :(

  49. dashesy says:

    Just logged to find stupid W7 restarted!!!! M$ is trying to make more sense to the stupid ppl and let others try other operating systems.

  50. ChaoticD says:

    A while back someone mentioned the command to kill the update service to prevent the restart once you know it’s gonna happen, which is really useful for those who don’t always mind restarting, but need to avoid it from time to time.

    For convenience I’m gonna show you a way of making it even easier:

    Right click on your desktop
    Click New > Shortcut
    Set it to the following line exactly:
    %ComSpec% /C “sc stop wuauserv”
    Name it “Die stupid updater” or whatever you like.

    Now, once the updater tells you that you need to restart, simply run it, and it will insta-gib the bugger.

  51. M.Dub says:

    Argh!!! I walked away for a long lunch and wonderful windows just automatically rebooted on me to finish installing an update. I hadn’t yet saved a couple hours of work (yes, I know, this is probably my fault for not saving early and often, but…), and now it’s all gone! Apparently, Microsoft Word “AutoRecover files are not designed to be saved when a logoff is scheduled or an orderly shutdown occurs.” Gee, thanks for that orderly shutdown, Microsoft!!

    Anyway, I can’t find the setting to turn off the auto-restart in Windows 7. Through Control Panel, I can get to the “Choose how Windows can install updates” settings, but I can only control when I install the updates, not when the reboot occurs. I want updates to automatically install, but not reboot until I choose to do so. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  52. Dave P says:

    I’ve had this problem several times when I’ve left a job running overnight, or just when I was looking at a bunch of documents, websites etc. and left the room at the wrong time. Came back to an empty desktop, thanks Microsoft.
    What really annoys me though is that for years, one of the first things I do in Windows when installing is to set windows update to download updates but let me choose when to install, and yet regularly they seem to include an update which changes your settings back to install and reboot automatically!

    Beware if you install Office and download the first update for that. That one seems to reset your automatic updates settings. There have certainly been others too.
    It’s getting to the point that I think I’m going to have to manually check Windows Update settings after every windows update I manually approve!

    This “feature”, along with my other favourite Windows feature where pop-ups steal focus when you are typing away, and you dismiss them with a keystroke without even seeing what it is you agreed to or cancelled, drives me crazy!

  53. Sumit Khanna says:

    I so hate this “feature” that I first saw on Windows 7. I saw it when I came into work in the morning and clicked “postpone” because I had a lot of things open I needed to work on. While I was eating my lunch, I watched Windows just begin to close everything!! Most of it I hit cancel and it just forced it closed, destroying all my unsaved work! There was no way to even stop the shutdown process once it started.

    If it keeps nagging me, I will eventually run my system updates and reboot (usually at the end of the week, like I do on my Mac), but forcing a reboot and killing all of a users data! This definitely shouldn’t be enabled by default. Now I’m behind a few hours at work.

    Thanks for the post. I’ve disabled it, but noticed people mentioned in the comments this didn’t work. Let’s give this a shot and see what happens.

  54. Jared says:

    Thanks for the tip, the directions seem to be written for Windows XP (“click Start->Run”), but this works in Windows 7 (and DISta) as well!

  55. Johannes says:

    Totally agree I’m not sure about the guys at Microsoft but a server “automatic” restarting without supervision by an administrator is one of the most senseless and dangerous things in a professional, productive server environment. Really, on a mission critical system you don’t want the system to decide for itself to perform a reboot. What if the system in question is a heart-monitor in an hospital IC station?

    The default setting for any serious sysadm should be: no unsupervised reboots. period. A serious sysadm plans maintenance windows every month, week, or for my part day when the system is safely on the ground and a reboot is allowed.

  56. whatever says:

    Just disable automatic updates. Why should microsoft decide when you apply updates in the first place.

  57. Bill says:

    Disable Auto Update? Dangerous. Most people will quickly forget that they did so and soon open themselves to all the nastiness the electronic frontier has to offer. Do not disable AU. The jerks of the world make new malware and find new exploits every day, the updates try to protect you from this.

  58. Ron says:

    This does not specify which versions of Windows this applies to. It did not work for me on Windows 7.

    Thanks for the help you give.

  59. Richard says:

    To summarize the two settings – Windows 7:
    “No auto-restart for logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations” –> Enabled
    “Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations” –> Enabled

    Will this disable the prompts entirely or only to the value I set in the second setting? If I want to disable them entirely what should the settings be?

    Thanks.

  60. Bill says:

    @Ron The fact that the post has a date of July 2006 should have been a pretty good indicator for you that it wasn’t written with Windows 7 in mind.

  61. Assaf says:

    So am I right in understanding that there is no way to manage this popup permanently in XP? If that’s the case, then I agree with Dave that it would be useful to have stated that in the article. Why should I have to trawl through the comments to work that out, Ryan?

    I see there are various options for handling it at the time it happens, but I would like to sort out my parent’s PC such that it pops up only every 4 hrs, and will never auto reboot without the user’s OK. Isn’t that possible? It’s not clear from the comments.

    And it that’s not possible then I’m dumbfounded. It’s so obvious and following all the complaints didn’t they introduce and XP update for this?

    madness.

  62. Assaf says:

    OK, some help here for XP Home and Pro users
    http://www.coderetard.com/2008/12/10/how-to-disable-automatic-restart-after-windows-update/#comment-67343

    Another thing I do is, if it’s not giving a countdown to auto restart, then I just leave the dialog at the side of the screen without clicking Now or Later.

  63. hel says:

    Amazing. Works on Win7 Pro x64

  64. Daphne says:

    Very helpful with stopping the auto restart after an update. I’m currently trying to restore files that were lost and didn’t feel like baby-sitting my computer for hours to keep Windows from restarting. thanks for the tip!! I can live with the pop up as long as it doesn’t do anything I don’t want it to do. Will restart once the files are restored and the pop up will be history until next time, I guess.

  65. Daphne says:

    And I did not have to reboot for the change to take affect. Running Windows XP. The restart window still pops up the auto count-down is no longer included. So I’m safe to finish what I’ve started before I’m ready to reboot.

  66. Randy says:

    What template in WinXP Pro x64? They do not seem to be the same.

  67. Daphne says:

    Randy, if your question is directed at me, I’m running XP Pro version 2002, Service pk. 3

  68. Randy says:

    I was not directing the question at anyone in particualr. I am running Windows XP 64 bit Version 2003 sp2

    Things are not the same and it is very hard to find answers. :?(

  69. Daphne says:

    I feel your pain, good luck, don’t give up

  70. Dan says:

    This method works fixes the automatic restart issue for every version of windows:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS4W7f4VGTQ

    cheers

  71. rajesh says:

    this helped me a lot
    than you very much

  72. mSl says:

    THe easiest way to shut down the automatic updates from restarting vista after it has downloaded them is to go to Control Panel then to click on windows updates then on the left side which should be blue click on change settings. When you are here there are many things you can do but I would go to important updates and choose the option you want for me it was Download updates but let me choose whether to install them. This will allow updates to be downloaded and you can restart your computer when you wish.

  73. Peter Breur says:

    On a Windows 7 – 64 bit machine, a shortcut to:
    %ComSpec% /C “sc stop wuauserv”
    works fine. You also have to set ‘Run as Administrator’ even when you are logged in as an user with administrator privileges.

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