How to stop automatic updates on Windows 10

I recently upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 (Starting to think I shouldn't have). Today I was doing some work on a program and all of a sudden the screen went blank - NO WARNING. I checked all the power connections etc and by then it finally started displaying something that made me realize that Windows decided to do an upgrade. So I lost a pile of time waiting for the upgrade, lost a few months off my life worrying that my PC had died and missed a deadline on my work while Windows comandeered my PC to do its upgrade.

After the upgrade I checked the settings and its set to "Notify to Schedule Restart" but I can't see any other settings that would prevent a repeat of what happened today. I don't know if a window popped up and responded to me pressing enter to insert a new line on what I was doing, or what, but I can't afford to have Windows upgrades occur when I am in the middle of a time sensitive job.

Can anyone tell me how to set it to simply alert me that an update is available so I an do the update when it suits me?
Rob4077Asked:
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arnoldCommented:
Check whether a local security policy for windows update under the computer/user configuration includes the options you are looking for I.e no restart when a user is logged on, my guess that the update restart popped up without you noticing right before you hit enter or by hitting a different key confirming the restart/update pop up.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Unfortunately you can't. Windows 10 continues down the path windows 8 started with regards to updates. You should have been notified of an imminent reboot. But delaying it or blocking updates is just not possible with home versions of win10. Even the pro (a.k.a business) version is limited. It has added support for an additional "business" update path and allows management server software to schedule and control, but the overall behavior is still the same. This is the new normal with win10.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
It is worth noting that the howtogeek article only provides workarounds, and all of them have severe consequences and drawbacks. I cannot recommend using any of those methods.
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akbCommented:
Have a look here:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3073930
I believe this allows you to stop updates to Windows 10 temporarily.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
part of the free upgrade is that you allow updates to install when available.
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McKnifeCommented:
I've been using 10 (preview) for ages (since the first day) on my private computer. Never had it done anything like that. You will have missed something for sure. So although you are forced to install updates, you will not be forced to reboot when MS decides it's a good point in time.
Now you should uninstall an update, reboot and see what happens the next time.
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Rob4077Author Commented:
Thanks for your comments. The one that is the biggest concern is "delaying it or blocking updates is just not possible with home versions of win10". That, for me, is not an option. As Arnold noted, the probable cause is "the update restart popped up without you noticing right before you hit enter or by hitting a different key confirming the restart/update pop up". This is an unavoidable issue. If a popup pushes in front of what I am doing and responds by destroying what I have just been working on PLUS reboots the machine and forces me to wait 20 minutes for an update. that is a deal breaker.

I believe I have 30 days to roll back to Windows 7. Is there an return to Win 10 path when they wake up to the fact that my time is more important than theirs and pushing me off my computer at a critical point in my day so Win 10 can install its update is not workable.

Or does my PC have to see out its days as a Win 7 machine once I roll back?
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Rob4077Author Commented:
Thanks for the link to external sites that provide some measure of support.

One of them tells me how to remove and stop a particular update but that's too late.

The other one provides a workable, albeit clunky, solution for me. I have simply told Windows that all my WiFi networks are metered connections. That way I will get a message to say there's a download available and I can download and install when it suits me.

To me this whole thing seems like a quantum leap backwards. My old computers would download the updates ready to go and tell me they're there. When I finish work for the day I could install the updates before turning off, or I could do it another day when I had time. Windows 10 has to be tricked so as not to rudely kick me out and make me wait for it to do it's thing. What if I was in the middle of a meeting or had a critical deadline to meet and Win 10 decides it wants 20 minutes to install an update that could have waited?  I don't know if Apple manages itself so ridiculously but if it doesn't then this sort of option in Windows 10 would be really good for Apple sales.
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Rob4077Author Commented:
It is a very clunky fix - Outlook wants to know if it can use it or not. I await comments about whether I can remove Win 10 now and still have reinstall rights later or is it once removed, gone forever.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
What if I was in the middle of a meeting or had a critical deadline to meet and Win 10 decides it wants 20 minutes to install an update that could have waited? I have never seen this happen an I've been a windows 10 preview since day 1.. What I normally see in windows update is your pc needs to be restarted.. and have the options of restart now, OR Schedule Later.. we have determined that xx.xx time is a time when you don't use your computer schedule this time.. and you can edit it.
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Rob4077Author Commented:
David, I don't know what I did wrong and I can only surmise that Arnold was right when he said the probable cause is "the update restart popped up without you noticing right before you hit enter or by hitting a different key confirming the restart/update pop up".

What has never happened to you happened to me today. I was editing a file in VS Express and the screen went blank. I had half an hour to go before I had to leave and was frantically editing a page, hoping to get it finished before I left. The 20 minute upgrade delay meant I didn't get my editing done in time as hoped and fortunately I have a weekend ahead of me but it was still unacceptable. I've seen the reboot message before and I did postpone an update last time but this time I never even saw the message. Had I seen it, I could have let the computer do it's update while I went out. What did I do wrong???
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McKnifeCommented:
I suggested to uninstall an update (it will be reinstalled, soon) to see and observe.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I agree with the gist of the comments here. You cannot disable updates permanently - only temporarily. But when my updates are there to be done, I get up to 48 hours to restart.  The "gotcha" here is that you have to look and see what it pending. It won't leap out and tell you (my machine will not). So if you reached the end without look, the machine will restart.

Conclusion: Set a time each morning or each evening and look to see what is pending. Then choose your moment. No updates have yet occurred at an inconvenient time (because I have the upper hand).
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
By the way, go to Control Panel, Security and Maintenance and run View Reliability History. See how many updates are happening (reboot not required). Microsoft is putting out updates nearly daily. They have said they are moving from scheduled to "as required". So today's update may not work because you tried to cancel or defer updates from 3 days ago. Best to change and go with the flow.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
A *vast* majority of the problems people are having with win10 updating are those who are trying to hold on too tightly. To use an analogy, it is like booking flights with no layover. You may get lucky and have all your flights line up and you avoided waiting and wasting time. But one delay in one flight out of your control and you miss the connection and your whole schedule is more blown than if you had just scheduled in a small layover.

Windows 10 monitors and "learns" when you usually use your computer. When an update that requires a restart gets installed, it will schedule a reboot during the first available predicted time. If you happen to be on your computer, you will be given a chance to delay the update. But you cannot delay the update indefinitely. Eventually you lose your choice and it'll reboot right in the middle of that meeting. But you could've let it reboot at 3AM when you had insomnia and chose to delay it then...so it isn't like that reboot was unavoidable. Choices and consequences.

Now to be clear, I am not saying this was your specific situation. But I am saying you seem to think this is a standard practice and you'll have your machine reboot right before a major deadline on a regular basis. I can tell you from testing and being in the support community that this is not the case. If it happens at all, it is *exceedingly* rare, and in almost every case I've heard, I have been able to review the update history (WU uses a new log format, but the events are still logged and can be extracted) and I have been able to show the user that "someone" clicked "not now" at 3AM, and again at 8AM, and now they are complaining that their machine updated at noon.

In all my time using Windows 10, I've seen the prompt twice (since last October), and have never had a forced reboot I couldn't schedule for a more convenient time. *MOST* of the time, it has predicted and rebooted when I wasn't even near my machine. And while my personal experience is only anecdotal, combine it with the support incidents I've dealt with and I have a pretty broad pool of usage data to draw conclusions from.

Short answer, I don't think this is a reason to downgrade. If you really want to ride that win7 OS into the sunset, by all means do so. But I think you are short-changing yourself. But if you learn to do things the new way, your satisfaction will go *way* up. If you try to keep doing things the old way, you'll definitely wish you stuck with win7.  Getting new benefits means learning new skills. And in some cases, just letting go of the control a little...
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Rob4077Author Commented:
Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to explain things so clearly.

I too have seen the request for a reboot and I've postponed it to 3 AM but I did not see it on this occasion.

So do I understand your comments correctly? Win 10 is designed for a daily, disciplined user who will check Windows messages daily to see if there is a reboot necessary and, if so, schedule it for a convenient time.

I work with a desktop at the office all week and I only use my laptop at night, if I have the time, or on weekends when I get stuck into some serious work. Your comments about the "48 hours" seems to suggest that I must have missed the notices and so Win 10 decided Saturday midday while I was working would be a good time to do the upgrade - does all this sound like I understand your comments correctly?

It surprises me that Win 10 can supposedly learn when I use my computer so as to schedule an upgrade, but it can't tell that I was actually typing at the time it started the update and so lost the recent changes I had just made.

It sounds like I face the choice of either learning to do things a-la-Win 10 and making sure I check it at least every 48 hours to make sure I schedule the upgrades or I stick with Win 7?

This raises another concern too. I have a second, backup, laptop that only gets turned on once a fortnight or so when I need it. Based on your comments it sounds like I should NOT upgrade that one to Win 10 because it's going to miss out on upgrades through not being able to get them on time, or I need to start it half an hour before I need it every time to make sure it has time to do it's update.

Have I understood this correctly?
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Rob4077Author Commented:
Just another thought. Will Win 10 wake up a computer that is in Sleep mode? If so is there a way to just tell it to install any updates at 3 AM? Or would I be better off leaving it on 24/7 just in case?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
For your first question, Windows 10 will either do its own thing, or wait until you are ready (by deferring the restart). If you have not checked, then you cannot know what it will do.

For your second question, I have two Windows 7 laptops that get turned on once or twice a month. I know there will be patches, so I give myself time to do the updates. Experience tells me this.

For your mid-conclusion part, Windows 7 is on the down swing and will die out before Windows 10 gets replaced, so it is better to adapt.

I think you have understood correctly and my comments are designed to add to your understanding.

For what it is worth, I generally check any machine for updates in the evening.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I do not think updates will wake up from suspend. I leave my desktop on 24x7 and turn my laptop off nightly.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
You definitely chose to read a few things into my comments that weren't there.  So I'll give a little background. This is how these decisions come about. I am not saying I agree or disagree, or that you have to agree or disagree. That ship has sailed insofar as if you want things changed, this won't be the channel to do so. Use the feedback app or uservoice, etc.  But this is what is...

Microsoft had a couple of growing problems with older patching cycles:

1) People were putting off updating and odd conflicts were arising when folks would finally decide to install a security update and .Net 4.5.2 (for example) at the same time after months of delays. Those patches, both important, were tested together, but were NOT tested with simultaneous deployment.  So people would gripe about updates failing, or multiple reboots.  All the stuff that "average joe" consumer could make go wrong because they put off rebooting too long, but weren't technically savvy enough to resolve themselves.

2) Most of the modern botnets, identity theft, and security compromises were happening because of out-of-date security patches. Things that MS had fixed, but that people weren't installing, or worse, were delaying.  I can't tell you how often I get called in for an outbreak and I find a business client with event logs showing that the user had been hitting "postpone reboot" for two...three *MONTHS.*  The sysadmin used WSUS to update, had approved the update, and the system had downloaded the update, but because users complained about reboots, he had configured the GPO to allow the user to postpone reboots. And the old dll was in memory, the system was compromised, and a dozen fileshares were hit with cryptolocker.  Fantastic, eh?

Microsoft's solution was to take away that choice. In win10, updates are mostly cumulative. So fewer conflicts. And updates are automatic. No delaying. And reboots are mandatory (Eventually) so old dll's aren't left in memory forever.  That addresses both of the problems above. You might think there are better ways. Again, I'm not going to debate that. I'm telling you how MS *chose* to address those. They want to make their OS more stable and help rid themselves of the reputation of an insecure OS that Apple so expertly exploited for years against them.

So to your specific questions:

"Win 10 is designed for a daily, disciplined user who will check Windows messages daily to see if there is a reboot necessary and, if so, schedule it for a convenient time."

No. Precisely the opposite. Win10 is designed that you don't check. Don't have to check. And can just use your computer. Sure, a reboot may *rarely* hit you while you are working, and you *can* be "disciplined" if you absolutely want to avoid it at all costs. But for 99.9% of the users out there, they'll never have their computer reboot on them and they won't have to check or schedule a reboot *at all.*  It'll just happen while they are away and all will be well.  There is real-world telemetry that backs this up.

"I work with a desktop at the office all week and I only use my laptop at night, if I have the time, or on weekends when I get stuck into some serious work. Your comments about the "48 hours" seems to suggest that I must have missed the notices and so Win 10 decided Saturday midday while I was working would be a good time to do the upgrade - does all this sound like I understand your comments correctly?"

Yes, essentially. As I said above in my explanation, reboots are mandatory "eventually"  ...roughly 48 hours after a patch is installed.   It'll try to schedule it *much* sooner, when it things you won't be around. And left to its own, that will almost always work.  There are a few exceptions. Very old hardware where the OS cannot schedule a wake from sleep automatically.  If your computer goes to sleep, and the update was scheduled for a time it is sleeping, and the OS can't wake the hardware, obviously the reboot will fail. Most computers in the last 5 years support the OS waking itself up though,.  But if you are really trying to stretch the hardware, you could hit this.  And, of course, you see notices, choose not to reboot, you'll eventually hit that hard wall where the OS needs to reboot no matter what. Having a patch installed but not in memory has *Always* been bad, going back to XP. It is a security risk at best, but is also a cause for instability or data loss...which people love to blame MS for, but really they chose not to reboot too long.  Again, a reputation thing. So yes, if a patch installed, and you didn't let the system reboot (For whatever reason) while it was idle, you will eventually be forced to.

"It surprises me that Win 10 can supposedly learn when I use my computer so as to schedule an upgrade, but it can't tell that I was actually typing at the time it started the update and so lost the recent changes I had just made."

Why is that a surpise? Humans are surprisingly easy to predict.  Look at the Nest thermostat?  Or coffee pots that learned when to start heating up. Win10 could learn when you'd likely be away from the computer. The second half is where you made an assumption. It *could* tell you were typing at the time it started the update. But it no longer cared. Either you hit enter approving a reboot (somewhat odd, but possible) or you hit the "point of no return, no delay allowed" and it was going to reboot. That's how it works now. For reasons I've explained.

"It sounds like I face the choice of either learning to do things a-la-Win 10 and making sure I check it at least every 48 hours to make sure I schedule the upgrades or I stick with Win 7? "

Or take option 3 and actually try letting win10 just do its thing. It isn't an either-or choice. But if you want to delay updates indefinitely, yeah, win7 will be your better choice. I'd think it was a poor choice, but that's just me.

"This raises another concern too. I have a second, backup, laptop that only gets turned on once a fortnight or so when I need it. Based on your comments it sounds like I should NOT upgrade that one to Win 10 because it's going to miss out on upgrades through not being able to get them on time, or I need to start it half an hour before I need it every time to make sure it has time to do it's update."

I'd argue that you'd have this problem with win7 as well. If you let a computer sit for weeks at a time turned off, it'll *have* updates that need to be installed. And it'll be a high risk target until they are. I'd never use a win7 laptop that had been off for a month until I ran windows update and rebooted. I wouldn't browse the web certainly. I'd launch as few programs as possible. I'd want as few connections to the outside world as can be avoided. So how does upgrading win10 change that? I'd still be firing up the update checker from the systems app, and I'd still be rebooting *immediately.*    Yes, that takes manual intervention, but it does on win7 as well. And Vista. And XP.  Security patches are released for a reason. They are usually released when an exploit has been discovered and proof-of-concept code is already in the wild. And even the few that were previously undisclosed are quickly reverse engineered from the security update itself. Any system without those updates is (repeating myself) *very* high risk...just by the fact that the security update is released and not installed. Win10 doesn't change that. So no, I see no reason to stay with 7 with that logic.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
It'll just happen while they are away and all will be well.

I am highly skeptical of this. Microsoft thinks they know when I am not using my computer but they are wrong more than 95% of the time (Laptop).

The desktop may sometimes update overnight (Windows 7) and when I replace it with a Windows 10 desktop, I will schedule for 3:00am .

Best to check and know.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
regarding updates you have to think like a malware author.. What is the best source of finding security holes.. You guessed it.. Microsoft Update patches.. you reverse engineer the patch, find a way to exploit the vulnerability and push out your malware.. The time frame for this is averages out to about the 48 hour mark. If you don't want to worry about updates and bug fixes, the solution is simple don't connect to the internet.  For most people this is not a viable solution..

For your laptop that is rarely used.. it will check for updates the minute it is connected to the internet and it will not have learned when your computer is least active so the default for reboot will be 3AM the next day. Remember that a machine that is not up to date with patches is more vulnerable to an exploit than a fully patched machine.  The risk is still there especially for drive by malware.  This machine that has not been turned on also probably needs a flash update as well. My suggestion is turn the machine on.. start the update process (even if you have to force it) and have a coffee and relax, come back, reboot the machine if needed.. and then prepare to get started when the machine restarts.
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Rob4077Author Commented:
Thank you everyone for your patient responses and clear explanations. Sorry if, in places, it appears as though I read a few things into comments that weren't there.  I was trying to understand why MS had allowed this frustrating situation occur and at the same time cope with my fears about what might happen next time.

By way of background, this incident frustrated me because it brought back a memory of what happened once before when I had a previous version of Windows and had not configured it to "install updates later". I had a very important presentation to make on my laptop, my time arrived and my 15 minutes presentation time arrived. Then suddenly, at the most inopportune time possible, Windows decided it wanted the same time slot. I promised myself then that I would never allow Windows to comandeer my PC again, yet here I am again.

Unlike my car that only needs a service every now and then and otherwise performs reliably - barring breakdowns - a laptop can now only be relied upon IF it is maintained daily. Your comments have helped me understand the reasons MS have had to do this but ... So I will now employ a mix of suggestions.
 
1. I will stick to my promise to myself by setting my home wireless network as metered so I can get warnings that an update is due but leave me the option of when to install - just in case I don't use my PC for a few days and then need to turn it on and rely on it immediately.

2. I will change the setting each day back to unmetered and allow my PC to do it's thing, preferably before I do anything on it but if I have to do something urgent, then I will reset it at the first available opportunity - that way it will get it's dose of maintenance every time I work on it.

3. I will wish that the fleas of 1000 camels would infest the armpits of the hackers and others who seek to exploit vulnerabilities in Windows for illegitimate personal gain.
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Rob4077Author Commented:
There were so many comments it was hard to distribute the points. I tried to allocate more to those who commented more and at the same time allocate some points to everyone who contributed (I hope I haven't missed anyone). Unfortunately I had to allocate a minimum of 50 points per answer.

Thank you again for your instructive comments
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