Windows Adjustments: Preventing Automatic Restart after Windows Updates

Microsoft maintains a regular program of security updates and bug fixes for Windows. If you have Automatic Updates enabled – as well you should – they’ll download and install automatically as they’re released.

Once they’re installed, Windows will automatically reboot your computer to complete the installation. If you happen to be in front of it when it tries to do so, it will allow you to defer the restart, but it will nag you incessantly thereafter until you allow it to restart your system.

If you happen to have stepped away for a caffeine hit when the restart dialog appears, Windows will reboot itself and trash any unsaved work you happened to be engaged upon at the time.

Windows is like the government in this respect – it always puts its priorities first, and your priorities immediately after those of a moderately insane great-grandmother named Mildred who lives in a subdivision outside Moose Jaw and once sent a twenty dollar donation to the election campaign of the current administration, albeit by mistake.

You can disable Windows’ ability to force itself to reboot after it installs updates. If you do this, you’ll need to reboot Windows manually – or just wait ‘til tomorrow morning when it starts up normally – for its new updates to complete their installation.

If you have Windows Professional, you can make this change using the Windows Group Editor. To do this:

  1. Start the Group Policy editor.
  2. Locate the Administrative template.
  3. Select Windows Update in Windows Components.
  4. Choose No Auto-restart for Scheduled Automatic Updates.

If you have Windows Home Edition, you’ll find yourself to be a bit stuck in performing the foregoing, as Home Edition doesn’t include the Group Policy editor. This having been said, the Group Policy editor stores the result of its editing in the Windows registry. As such, you can make the same changes by editing the registry, albeit not quite as quickly.

Be sure to review the discussion of using the Windows registry editor before you proceed. You’ll need to run the registry editor and do the following:

  1. Open the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE item in the tree in the left side of the registry editor by double-clicking on it.
  2. Open the SOFTWARE sub-key.
  3. Open the Policies sub-key.
  4. Open the Microsoft sub-key.
  5. Open the Windows sub-key.
  6. Open the WindowsUpdate sub-key.
  7. Open the AU sub-key.
  8. You’ll need a sub-key under the AU key called NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers. If it doesn’t exist, right-click on the AU key and select DWORD Value from the menu that appears. A new key will be created. Rename it to NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers.
  9. Right-click on the NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers item in the right pane of the registry editor and select Modify.
  10. Set the value of this key to 1 to disable automatic reboots.
  11. Exit the registry editor.

Having made this change, Windows will still notify you that you should restart your system, but it won’t do so without your permission.

The punch line in the foregoing is that you’ll need to reboot your computer for this change to become active. No foolin’ – you couldn’t make a thing like this up.

Please see the disclaimers for Windows Adjustments before you apply the information at this post.

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