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Update: This article about the Preview version of Windows 10. In the final release things are different. Please read my new articles about the topic:
If you read my recent blog post, you know that I support an aggressive update policy. However, I also think that forcing users to download updates is a very bad idea, even in a Technical Preview. I hope Microsoft will offer the option to disable Windows Update entirely in Windows 10 RTM. I don’t want to go into arguments again; let’s just discuss the options we have to get rid of the Automatic Updates.
If you are searching for the Windows Update applet in the old Control Panel, you will search in vain. Windows Update is now available only as a modern app (should I really call this a Windows Store app?). (Update: There is a way to bring back the old Update applet. See end of text.) You can find it by typing “windows update” in the new search box on the Windows taskbar. To change the update behavior, you have to click Advanced options.
Windows Update in Windows 10 build 9926
Windows Update applet in Control Panel missing ^
It appears Microsoft is fiercely determined to force Windows 10 users to always install the latest updates. The latest build, 9926, only offers two update options: Automatic (recommended) and Notify to schedule restart. The latter option won’t download updates over a metered connection, and you will be asked to schedule a restart to finish installing updates.
Advanced Windows Update options
Changing the network settings to turn off updates ^
The easiest way to turn off Automatic Updates is to simply unplug the network cable or, if you are testing in a virtual environment, to assign the virtual network adapter to an internal network. If you want to access the Internet with your Windows 10 machine, this option is not really the one you want.
If you connect your Windows machine through a WiFi network, you can set the connection to a metered connection. (Click the network symbol in the systray and then right-click the connection.) This should prevent Windows 10 from downloading updates. A downside of this method is that it will affect the behavior of other applications, such as OneDrive.
The registry hack I outlined in a previous post no longer works. The corresponding registry settings are still available; however, they appear to have no effect on the update behavior of Windows 10 build 9926. I am unaware of a new registry setting that works in the January build. If you do, please post a comment. (See end of text)
Disabling the Windows Update service ^
However, we have another option to turn off Automatic Updates altogether. All we need to do is stop the Windows Update service and make sure that it won’t start again. I recommend to first check if updates are currently downloaded; if so, wait until all updates are installed. Then, type “services” in the Windows 10 search box and click View Local Services.
Windows Update service
Scroll down to Windows Update and double-click the service. Set the startup type to Disabled. If the service is already running, click Stop. After the service has stopped, click OK.
Disable Windows Update service
If you now click Check for Updates in the Windows Update app, you should see a reassuring error message:
Error message: There were some problems installing updates
Yup, that is all we wanted: “some problems installing updates.”
If you want to later enable Automatic Updates again, you have to first set the startup type of the Windows Update service to Manual and then start the service.
If you plan to switch Automatic Updates on and off frequently, you can do so with this tiny PowerShell script, which you have to run with administrator privileges:
set-service wuauserv –startup disabled
If you want to verify if the service is really disabled, you need the Get-WMIObject cmdlet:
get-wmiobject win32_service –filter "name='wuauserv'"
Stop Windows Update service with PowerShell
Amazingly, the Get-Service cmdlet in PowerShell 5 still doesn’t support reading the startup type.
To enable Windows Update, you need these commands:
set-service wuauserv –startup manual
Start Windows Update service with PowerShell
Please let me know if you know of another way to deactivate Automatic Updates in Windows 10.
Registry hack for bringing back Windows Update in Control Panel ^
Update: The registry setting that Keith mentioned in a comment works. Copy the text below to a REG file and then launch the file. This will bring back the old Windows Update applet in the Control Panel. You can then follow the procedure in my previous post to disable Windows Update.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00