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

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and 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
  1. ChaoticD 9 years ago

    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.

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  2. M.Dub 9 years ago

    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!

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  3. Dave P 9 years ago

    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!

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  4. Sumit Khanna 9 years ago

    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.

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  5. Jared 9 years ago

    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!

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  6. Johannes 9 years ago

    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.

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  7. whatever 9 years ago

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

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  8. Bill 9 years ago

    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.

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  9. Ron 8 years ago

    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.

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  10. Richard 8 years ago

    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.

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  11. Bill 8 years ago

    @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.

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  12. Assaf 8 years ago

    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.

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  13. Assaf 8 years ago

    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.

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  14. hel 8 years ago

    Amazing. Works on Win7 Pro x64

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  15. Daphne 8 years ago

    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.

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  16. Daphne 8 years ago

    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.

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  17. Randy 8 years ago

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

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  18. Daphne 8 years ago

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

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  19. Randy 8 years ago

    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. :?(

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  20. Daphne 8 years ago

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

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  21. Dan 8 years ago

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

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

    cheers

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  22. rajesh 8 years ago

    this helped me a lot
    than you very much

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  23. mSl 8 years ago

    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.

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  24. Peter Breur 7 years ago

    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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