Can I stop Windows from downloading updates?

Every once in a while, Microsoft decides it wants to reprogram my computer. It doesn’t ask me if I want any updates or explain what they are - it just goes ahead and downloads them on to my computer. I never know they’re there until I start getting insistent messages that I need to restart my computer so they can be installed. Every fifteen minutes. And the only two options are “do it now” and “wait fifteen minutes and annoy me again”. How about an option for “don’t ever do it” or “don’t ask me again” or “delete all those files I didn’t ask for”.

Is there some way I can set my computer so that I do not get any unrequested updates? It annoys me that I have to do that - don’t infect my computer should be the default.

Google “turn off automatic updates”. (Exactly how you do it migh depend on the Windows version, that’s why I recommend Google.)

What version of windows do you have (the exact instructions vary)?

In general, there should be an automatic updates gui in the control panel. Open this and select your preferred option (automatically install, download but do not install, or off).

If you turn off automatic updates, you will need to go to the windows update site to get new updates (highly recommended that you do this frequently).

Alexander Harris

While you can do this, it’s not a wise decision. Without updates, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to all sorts of attacks (look up “Blaster virus” some day). Automatic updates makes certain you’re currently up to date.

The last update improved security so much it took me 3 hours to get my computer to talk to the external drive I had mounted on the wireless router. I suppose they hadn’t been formally introduced.

If you don’t know how to turn off automatic updates, you are better off leaving them on. In fact your neighbour/friend who always does your computer will be grateful if you leave those settings alone.

Yes, Microsoft knows better than you.

Before startig installation make a backup??

Yes, its MS’s fault you dont know how computers work.

In Windows 7 if you simply open the control panel and type “automatic updates” in the upper-right search box, you’ll be directed to exactly where you need to be.

I’m pretty sure you could do this with Vista as well.

ETA: Hell, you can even do it by typing into the search box in the start menu.

I had a backup, made just last week in fact. That would have taken three hours as well. Then I would have the security vulnerabilities that the update addressed. I’m just saying that if you don’t have the time to either reimage your computer or figure out that the only way to get the computer to talk to the drive is to disable your IEEE 1394 interface, you might want to do the updates at a time more convenient to you.

Who said anything about MS, anyway? You sure seem sensitive about an offhand remark.

I don’t know that much about computers, but on the bright side, spelling and punctuation have not escaped me.

If updates are set to automatic, the user won’t necessarily know exactly when ‘before starting installation’ is.

Why is it that every time I see this question asked, half the responders assume that “I’d like to turn off automatic updates” means “I intend to never update my computer again”? Personally, I’ve had automatic updates turned off since day one; I apply all security updates manually every so often, but I sure as hell don’t want MS automagically installing crap like Silverlight or WGA on my machine without my approval. Even then, it doesn’t mean I’ll never install those things, just that I’ll do it on my own schedule.

The canard that “if you don’t already know how to turn them off, you shouldn’t be doing it anyway” doesn’t hold water either, unless you’re under the impression that every reasonably competent computer user knows where to find every configuration option in every menu off the top of his or her head.

Anyway, to the OP — Discipline has already provided instructions for Windows 7. If you’re using XP, the process is:

Control Panel -> Automatic Updates -> Turn off automatic updates -> Apply.

That’ll stop the updates, but the next thing you’ll want to do is turn off the annoying notification that helpfully informs you you’ve turned off the annoying automatic update notification. To do this:

Control Panel -> Security Center -> Change the way Security Center alerts me (in the “Resources” panel on the left) -> Uncheck “Automatic Updates” -> OK.

Hope this helps.

A quick heads-up - co-worker of mine informed me this morning that one of the Microsoft patches issued this week is causing a Blue Sceen of Death in XP. Apparently the system cannot even be restarted from Safe Mode, you have to boot from an installation disc. So you might want to think twice about the automatic update, maybe do the automatic download and then pick and choose what you want to install.

Link to the article he forwarded:

You can’t blindly trust Microsoft’s patches. I keep auto updates off and run updates manually. I try to wait at least a week (after Microsoft posts) to apply the update. That way any issues with the update will already be resolved.

Just a heads-up for those who wish to install updates manually - you can always go to, scan for available updates, choose what you want to install and let 'er rip.

Edit: This appears to be built into Windows 7 (and Vista, I assume). Going to the website should only be required for XP.