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Disabled Automatic Updates are still running

Posted on 2008-06-23
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-08-13
I have DISABLED Automatic Updates via the services.msc on about 100 servers.  I however have noticed a few are back to running.  Shouldn't disabling the service do the trick? On a few of these servers when running the services.msc I see the Automatic Updates have changed from DISABLED back to AUTOMATIC...how is this happening?
Question by:mdmcq5
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Author Comment

ID: 21851296
Also, if by chance someone has logged into various servers and restarted the Automatic Updates service, where in the event logs can I locate that?  I currently am unable to locate anything pertaining to disabling or restarting the service...
LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:Michael Pfister
ID: 21855110
I assume someone turned it on on purpose. Never tried if it is re-enabled if someone surfs to Microsoft's Windows Update site.

To answer your 2nd question:
Disabling a service is not logged at all.
Starting or stopping a service creates information event id 7036 from source Service Control Manager in SYSTEM event log.

LVL 44

Accepted Solution

scrathcyboy earned 750 total points
ID: 21861906
just disabling the service will NOT do the trick.  You have to change the registry for this to work.  The easiest way to do that is to right click my computer, properties, automatic updates tab, and uncheck it so that no system updates are found.  This setting actually changes key registry settings.  Click apply to do so.  Also while you are there, on system restore, make sure that NO drives on the server which receive backups of other computers are monitored in system restore.  If so, if you have to restore the server to an earlier time, and you have backups of all workstations on say drive E, then all the EXE files in those backups will be deleted !!  Make sure that system restore only monitors the server's OS drive and others related to the server, not to backups of other systems.
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Author Comment

ID: 21862047
I've already disabled the service on over 100 servers and only a small amount - maybe 3 have the services restarted already.

since I'll have to log back into the servers to do this task, do you by chance know the registry key value for this so I can distribute?

Can you pls explain the relevance of this?
NO drives on the server which receive backups of other computers are monitored in system restore

I don't quite get how this pertains to Windows Updates? Can you explain further? Thanks.
LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 21862199
"I don't quite get how this pertains to Windows Updates? "

It doesn't  -- I merely said -- "while you are there ..."  it was FYI, in case you didn't know -- most do NOT.

I repeat, disabling the service only pertains to the login you used to disable the service.  If another SYSTEM service (like a backup) starts, it will not have that service disabled, therefore the service will restart if that SYSTEM (not user) login has the service set to load on start up.

You MUST login as ADMIN rights, and simply do what I said -- it is easy enough, even on 100 systems.

But if you must have registry settings, here they are --

System Key: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU]
Value Name: NoAutoUpdate, AUOptions, ScheduledInstallDay, ScheduledInstallTime
Data Type: REG_DWORD (DWORD Value)


Here is a link to a .REG file to do the same --

If you are using WSUS (which you did not specify) there are too MANY settings to list, see this --


Author Comment

ID: 21862233
we currently do not have WSUS incorporated, but it's a work in progress.

I have logged into the servers w/domain admin rights and disabled the service, but you're saying that doesn't matter?

If I do initiate the registry key value, what's the difficulty level or reversing?

a few of the servers which run production software can't allow the Updates b/c they interfere.  I can see running a registry key value for those servers where it's imperative.

what's your input? what would you do?
LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 21862370
"but you're saying that doesn't matter?"

No I am saying a service disable pertains ONLY for that login.

"what's your input? what would you do?"

Since you already spent the time to disable the service on all servers, I personally would take the time to login to all servers one by one as ADMIN, and I would manually stop updates on all of them.  Once you do this for admin, it is done for all logins and services.  Remember, each will need a reboot to work.  Sure it may be an inconvenience, but windows is NOT like linux, it takes reboots for key system changes to work.

If you are comfortable doing this with a registry update file pushed to the servers, fine.  I would not be.

Finally I would definitely NOT NOT NOT install WSUS.  You have no idea the problems it has caused people coming here in desperation to EE for fixes, and the only fix is to remove it an rebuild the OS.

Author Comment

ID: 21862425
you've given great advice!
I'll keep you posted!

Author Comment

ID: 21879691
After much IT discussion, we have voted on the registry entry..

just want to confirm something...

this value does not currently exist on the servers:

but this does:
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update

There is also this key, but does not contain the WindowsUpdate or AU entries:

Should they be created?

In testing by disabling the updates via the control panel, this key changes value to 1:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update]

what am I missing here?
LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 21950294
First, you have to realize that the specific registry keys are in different places on W2K, W2003, XP and Vista -- they might all perform the same function for each OS, but M$ gets some jollies by making the registry keys with different paths PER OS, to get the same result.

SO everything you test will have to be OS specific -- i.e. test W2000 changes only on a 2000 registry, and likewise for 2003 and XP, and whatever OS -- the keys are all different on each OS.

Knowing that, the solution is simple, if a little time consuming.  For ANY particular OS, you set the updates to "ON" then use regedit, and export the registry to a file = updateon.reg

Then you change the updates to OFF, then rerun regedit, and export the registry to a new file called updatesoff.reg.

Then run a command prompt using this terminology  (fc - file compare, built into the OS ) --

fc updateson.reg updatesoff.reg >diffs.reg

Now the file diffs.reg gives you the keys you want to use to turn the auto updates off.  You make that into a standard registry file to change the registry, and push it to all the clients.  

Task done.  Here is how to make a registry file --

Good luck !!


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