Friday, July 11, 2008

How to: Disable Windows Update Restart

Okay, I normally don't do tech how to posts simply because they're usually already posted and easy to find. This however took me awhile and it is so vexing that windows automatically restarts at the end of a critical update that I thought I'd share it around.

If you're super-technically adept, skip to the end to see the registry hack way of doing this directly.

Windows Update is generally useful. I like that it automatically patches my OS with all the latest security stuff. If you want to know why I like this please take a look at this article on herd immunity and then take a couple of minutes to think about it.

Anyway, the vexing thing is that at some time around 3am, when I am never there to tell it, "oh hell no, I have critical documents open!" Windows rolls an update and the computer helpfully restarts itself. Here's how to fix that little issue without turning off automatic updates in XP pro (for home edition you must hack the registry).

  • Go to Start Menu -> Run type “gpedit.msc” and press Enter
  • This opens the Group Policy editor
  • In this window go to: Computer Configuration -> Administrative Template -> Windows Components -> Windows Update
  • Double click on No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Updates installations
  • In the settings window Choose Enabled and click OK
  • Close Group Policy Editor

The next time Windows Update updates your system it will not restart the computer automatically, but will notify you that restart is needed in order to finish the installation.

Now for the registry hack way (small children and sensitive individuals should avert their eyes).

  • Go to Start Menu -> Run type “regedit” and press Enter
  • This opens the Registry Editor (if you are not sure of what you're doing STOP because you can completely hose your computer if you screw up)
  • In this window go to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Policies -> Microsoft -> Windows -> WindowsUpdate -> AU (if this key does not exist you must create it)
  • Create a DWORD named NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers with a value of 1

That's it! Again, the next time Windows Update updates your system it will not restart the computer automatically, but will notify you that restart is needed in order to finish the installation.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting these instructions!
I just lost 8h of renderingtime, a result of the automatic restart feature in windows!
The last frame rendered, has the timestamp 3:21 AM..

Thx /Lukas

tugopedia said...

I, too, just lost quite a bit of work, and I am really glad to finally wipe out WU auto-restarting.

On Vista, though, Group Policy suggests that I enable Configure Automatic Updates in the same policy group to ensure that the policy takes effect. Is this true?

MrH said...

Thanks for your help! I'm trying to render a long project, and the computer continues to try to restart.

Publius said...

Very helpful and the end of a headache. Thanks.