How to manage Windows 10 updates to prevent them from ruining your life

27 February, 2019 . 137 views


How can I stop Windows 10 updates? Whether it’s preventing Windows 10 from kicking off a critical update during a presentation, or deferring Microsoft’s Windows 10 feature update because of worries about data loss, it’s a question we’ve all asked.

How can I stop Windows 10 updates? Whether it’s preventing Windows 10 from kicking off a critical update during a presentation, or deferring Microsoft’s Windows 10 feature update because of worries about data loss, it’s a question we’ve all asked. You shouldn’t block all Windows 10 updates. But you can manage them.

Windows 10 feature updates and security updates provide a valuable service: they not only patch Windows, its apps and components, but provide new features and capabilities twice a year. Windows Update can also automatically provide updated drivers for hardware connected to your PC, such as a USB-attached printer. 

 Tools to manage updates with Windows 10 Home

When you’re building a PC you have two choices of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system: Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10 Pro allows you to defer updates for days and days. If you’re a Windows 10 Home user, you may as well accept your fate: Windows 10 updates—both periodic security updates, as well as the semi-annual feature updates—will arrive on your PC almost as soon as they’re released. Don’t worry, though, as Windows Home and Pro users alike have some defenses against an unexpected Windows 10 update: Active Hours, Restart reminders, and Metered updates.

To access them, first navigate to the Windows 10 Settings menu, then to Home > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced options.

Active Hours can be a Windows 10 Home user’s most potent weapon against unexpected Windows 10 updates. (This setting is found in Home > Update & Security > Windows Update > Change active hours.) It’s here that you can tell Windows when you’re actively using your PC, and when it shouldn’t update Windows. The default is business hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., though you can set a window for up to 18 hours later than the start time. Active Hours shouldn’t allow the update to occur during that period. Be careful, though, as the update could still kick off at, say, 4 a.m., when Active Hours is disabled and you’re not at your PC.

Even if that happens, though, you should receive a reminder via Windows’ restart reminders, the checkbox that lets you know that “We’ll show a reminder when we’re going to restart.” Even if all else fails, checking this box should pop up a notification that Windows will eventually restart and install and update, giving you some time to save and exit your work. I’ve personally had Windows alert me that an update was on its way when I was at the PC and working with Active Hours enabled. Windows didn’t update during Active Hours, but I was able to remind myself to save everything before I left for the night. (Setting a reminder via Cortana might help.)

Preventing Windows updates from downloading over metered connections can be a sneaky way of possibly preventing an unwanted Windows update. Windows now recognizes that some users may have metered data connections, with strict limits on how much data they can download per month. Microsoft politely allows you to defer an unexpected update via a metered connection, so you don’t pay an extra fee.

Windows is unaware whether a connection is metered, however. (And yes, you can lie.) Designate your broadband connection as a metered connection by going into Settings > Network & Internet, then Change connection properties. It’s here that you’ll see a toggle to Set as metered connection. You can then go back into the Windows Update settings and toggle Automatically download updates, even over metered data connections... to Off.

Unfortunately, the default behavior when your PC is connected to ethernet is to think that your PC is on an un-metered connection. And when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, Windows will still probably download “priority” updates, so this can’t really be considered a foolproof solution. And if you have multiple Wi-Fi connections available, you’ll have to set all of them as metered, too, which is a pain.

All in all, a more convenient option is Windows 10 Pro.

t, the Windows 10 Settings menu which includes Home > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced options will include many more options with Windows 10 Pro, including the ability to pause updates, choose when updates are installed, and the actual deferral of both feature and security updates.

One of the behaviors we've seen on a Pro machine is when an update reminder lands on your machine: Microsoft allows you not only to delay your update, but also to specify exactly when. You can schedule the update for anytime within a week.

One of the more confusing options is Choose when updates are installed. Here, you have two options: Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted), and just a vanilla Semi-Annual Channel option. These refer to the semi-annual dates when corporations typically receive the feature updates, such as the October 2018 Update for Windows 10.




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