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Prevent Windows Update from Forcibly Rebooting Your Computer

We’ve all been at our computer when the Windows Update dialog pops up and tells us to reboot our computer. I’ve become convinced that this dialog has been designed to detect when we are most busy and only prompt us at that moment.

The real problem comes into play when Windows gets tired of reminding us and says that the computer is going to reboot in 5 minutes, and the only way you can prevent the inevitable is to temporarily disable Windows Update.

There’s a couple of ways that we can disable this behavior, however. You’ll still get the prompt, but it won’t force you to shut down.

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This trick should work for all versions of Windows as far as we know. You can always resort to the temporary disabling measures instead.

Manual Registry Hack

Open up regedit.exe through the start menu search box or run dialog, and navigate down to the following key, creating new keys if they don’t exist.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU

image

Create a new 32-bit DWORD value named NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers and give it a value of 1 to prevent automatic reboot while users are logged on. Delete the value to put things back to the way they were.

Downloadable Registry Hack

Just download and extract the registry hack files and double-click on WUNoAutoReboot.reg to disable automatic reboots. The other script will remove the hack.

Download WUNoAutoReboot Registry Hack

Using Auto Reboot Remover Utility

If you’d rather not mess with the registry, you can use a small utility created by the guys at Intelliadmin which will make the changes for you. Just make sure you right-click and run as administrator if you are using Vista.

image

Download Auto Reboot Remover from Intelliadmin

This hack should work for the professional or business editions of XP, Vista, or even Windows Server. I’d be interested to hear your feedback in the comments.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/14/07

Comments (67)

  1. MrLinux

    You know, I wonder if this is something some manufacturers are applying this by default. I’m using Vista Home Premium and it never *forces* me to reboot. All I get is that annoying prompt, which as you said, can’t be disabled.

  2. Kyle

    I have mine set to notify me of new updates but not install them automatically, so I never get autorebooted. I get the annoying prompt after I install the updates, but I usually set it on 4 hours or whatever the maximum time is and don’t worry about it that much.

  3. Jorell

    But how do you configure a server not to reboot when noone is logged in? This key only prevents reboots when users are logged in. There are only 4 options, don’t update, notify of updates but don’t update, update but don’t reboot if someone is logged in, and install updates and reboot. There is no way to install updates and reboot at a later time.

  4. Kamahl

    I’m not sure where, but there’s a registry setting that holds the temporary delay time. We’ve made ours to 999999999 seconds. it’s enough to let you hit ‘reboot now’ when you’re done.

  5. Opoku

    Interested in getting a solution to the scenario where server reboot should be prevented when no one is loggen in.

  6. Paul

    Thanks very much.

    I control Windows Update via a Group Policy which always worked fine until I deployed our first Vista machine. The machine was automatically rebooting without prompting while the user was logged on.

    This worked a treat

  7. Alex Toronto On Canada

    I have Vista home premium and it automatically reboots without giving me any warning. How can M$FT make this code? I’ll be installing your hack if I can’t figure out how to turn it off.

  8. Thomas

    Hi,

    there are a few more things you can change in this reg key:

    “RebootRelaunchTimeoutEnabled”=dword:00000001
    “RebootRelaunchTimeout”=dword:000005a0

    RebootRelaunchTimeout sets the delay of the “Remind me Later” window in minutes.

    Thomas

  9. cobaye

    Hi

    I experienced the reboot without warning after important updates were automatically installed, whereas I already had add these registry keys like NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers etc.

    In Vista Home premium, the Windows Update Policies in registry must be added cause they are not present by default. So I found were the Windows Updates settings were stored:
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update

    And guess what? A key named “ForcedReboot” was set to 1 …

    So I set it to 0 and I hope it will end this silly behaviour of rebooting without any warning at all.

  10. Ryan B

    Here’s a way to adjust both the auto-reboot AND delay of the annoying reboot popup in one spot:

    Start->Run->gpedit.msc

    Computer Configuration
    >Administrative Templates
    ->Windows Components
    –>Windows Update
    —>No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Updates installations [Enabled]
    —>Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations [300 minutes]

    Requires XP Pro, XP Media Center, Vista Business, or Vista Ultimate. I’m sure Win2k is in there too but I’ve never tried.

  11. Raj

    Ryan B, i clicked on run but then when i type in “gpedit.msc, it says windows cannot find….”

  12. Ryan B

    You didn’t mention what operating system you are running.

  13. Akshay

    gpedit is not available on Windows XP home.

    Ryan B thanks it worked like a charm.

  14. Lily

    I have a question how do I make my speakers work (sound) after I’ve rebooted my computer? Please answer this question!!!

  15. Jason Honingford

    I just disable automatic updates. It’s annoying anyway when you’re in the middle of something or perhaps you want to leave your computer on unattended?? Imagine that! I guess there are new uses for Windows that Microsoft hadn’t thought of — processes that take longer than 5 minutes and you don’t want to be there to wait for them.

  16. Nilre

    Re: Cobaye’s comment of May 31st

    So does it work to set ForcedReboot to 0 in Vista Home Premium? Have you had the forced reboot since changing that value?

    Btw. the ForcedReboot value was not present in my registry. I have added it now, but would like to hear from people who have a verdict on its effectiveness..

  17. cobaye

    I checked if forcedreboot was still there, and guess what it was set to “2”…. I think it is a battle against windows update we cannot win forever. Probably any update set back the value and this would explain why i thought this parameter didn’t work and why i was forced to turn off the automatic install to avoid the forced reboots.

    I set it back to 0 and turn on the automatic installation, and i’ll tell you here if it works.

  18. duncanSF

    There is also an AUOptions DWORD in HKLM\Software\MS\W\CV\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update\ which on my Vista Home Premium shows a value of 4 when “download and install” is selected.

  19. Nehi

    How do I prevent Windows from prompting me to reboot to install updates or closing forceably? I read the comments, but nothing directly on steps to do this for my WindowsXP Vista Home Premium. Will it corrupt my computer if it reboots and installs on its own? What will happen- the last time I was prompted- it did corrupt my computer- I was told never to accept these in the future…..help~~

  20. tokyogodfather

    Thanks for the post. The link to the Auto Reboot Remover has changed however. You can find it here:

    http://www.intelliadmin.com/downloadtrial.htm

  21. tokyogodfather

    I ran the Auto Reboot Remover but have no idea if it worked. It just kept telling me to make sure I am the admin of my computer. But I AM logged in as admin..

  22. LukeR

    i just lost a load of unsaved work on Word when windows restarted without even telling me. it overrided the ‘do you want to save your changes to…’ and closed it anyway. i’m more determined that ever to beat it now.

  23. GolDreadLocks

    I have been trying for 3 weeks to find out how to fix my windows vista updates.I have done all the microsoft steps, but it still won’t update. Everything was fine until last June 24. I can’t even use system restore as the dates won’t go back before June 24. Does anyone know how to help?I would really appreciate it. I need to update the securities etc.Thanks in advance,…

  24. Vincent

    Ryan B,

    Thanks for your advice. It seemed a bit easier then the method in the article; mostly because I was nervous to add a new entry to the registry. Hope it works though, I lost a lot of work to Window’s draconian policies. Very very frustrating. Am I not the owner of this computer? Why in the **** is it telling me to work around ITS schedule?

    Anyway, thanks for the help.

    Vinny

  25. Mich

    Sorry both links to this file Do Not work…

    Not working..
    The link to the Auto Reboot Remover has changed however. You can find it here:

    http://www.intelliadmin.com/downloadtrial.htm

  26. Thor

    If you have home versions of Windows XP, Vista, or 7, you can use Shutdown Guard:
    http://code.google.com/p/shutdownguard/

  27. Toothless

    Fix Infinate loop for Vista update install…

    1. Insert your Vista Media into your dirve and boot from it.
    2. Select “Repair your Computer” from the list.
    3. Select “Command Prompt” from the recovery choices.
    4. At the command prompt type C:
    5. Type cd Windows\WinSxS
    6. Type del pending.xml
    7. Exit and reboot

    Works w/o restore or reg fixes… simple quick, easy…. what else is there?

  28. Rei

    I wish my Windows Vista would just stop updating, period.

    After every fourth or fifth update, I have to reload my OS!

  29. TonyC

    Here is my problem, I get Vista Premium updates, they cause problems, I restore to an earlier time, set my updates to not update, but as I restore, there is a notice that “New Updates Available”. I am assuming that these were there from previous download before my new configuration.

    So, this new update will reinstall itself when I shut down…right? Is this a never ending loop of me restoring and updates being installed as I shut down?

    Toothless gave seven steps to what appears to be a way to stop this loop, if so, does anyone else concur with him?

    Have you got a suggestion on stopping updates from self installing on shutdown?

  30. Paul

    This auto restart “feature” of windoze is SO unbelievably bad, that it is, even on its own, reason enough to never use windoze. Having used many versions of Mac OS, Linux and windoze, the huge, overriding thing I notice the most about using windoze, is that WINDOWS is in control, you are merely a passenger being told to do things the microsoft way, whereas proper OSes are designed to do things the way USERS want to do them.

    I mean, an OS that just goes ahead and RESTARTS all by itself unless you tell it not to? Come on, is this windoze beta 0.9? Surely such a major bug as this should get removed before microsoft release a full version of windoze. Maybe windoze 7 is that version 1.0 we’ve been waiting for? Would it be so hard just to switch the options so that the PC does NOT restart unless you tell it to, as opposed to auto-restarting unless you tell it NOT to?

  31. Fecked off

    ARRGH – I have been frustrated with my vista laptop restarting with no warning and no time to do anything. One minute I am doing what ever – the next the screen goes black and its gone – I was starting to think that the newly installed Winblows had a virus or something even though my avg was up to date.

    Anyway checked out the event log and found this restart manager thing. Bloody *&^&^%#&^%$%&^in g Microsoft – God I hate their arrogant insistence on defaulting everything to f–king override any preferences the poor end user might have, it seems with ever release they are more controlling of what you can do…I tell you – one of these days Im going to go to the toilet after a winblows upgrade and get told I cant pee or crap because microsoft feels it is a breach of my security or microsoft has removed access to my toilet or something!

    ARRGH – and the worst part is how these things are never documented and you have to dig and dig to find them – anyone from MS reading this – if these annoying as hell ‘features’ are so good, why are they basically hidden from us and not documented?

  32. Dj Viss

    Gah! Just lost a days work of 3D-animation work due to this…
    I worked on a scene all day, left my computer over night and in the morning it was restarted.

  33. Dimitriy

    Same thing happened to me. Vista Home Premium did an automatic reboot after installing some updates at 3 am. It caused some of the programs to crash when doing the reboot.

  34. Sk00L

    OK last straw of M$ failing me… This is MY computer. I tell it what to do, not the other way around! I’m am sooo done with this bs, time to give linux a real try! Micro$oft i smite you with all of my being may I live to see you become as relevant as Betamax is to the home video industry today! OBSOLETE!

  35. Apachegila

    To find out what your AU client is doing, open the windowsupdate.log file located in the Windows folder. The log will tell you if updates have been found for your system, when they will be downloaded, when they will be installed, the names of the updates, if they were installed successfully, and most importantly, when the system will reboot for updates that require it. Be sure to check the log before and after the second Tuesday of the month, when critical security updates are pushed. Check it more often to catch those downloads/installs that happen outside the regular window. Armed with this knowledge, you can perform appropriate and timely housekeeping (save files; close programs) and you won’t have to fight the update regimen anymore. Learn to love AU and the MS security effort by finding out what is going on with your system. Knowledge is power.

  36. Chris

    This was listed in the “best windows tweaks that still work in Windows 7″ feature, but just to verify, does it still work? The registry appears to be structured somewhat differently in Win7– there isn’t a key at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU, but it looks like perhaps the key at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update might contain similar settings. I’m testing this out by putting the NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers DWORD in both locations (creating the key for it in the first case), but of course, there’s no obvious way to tell if it worked for now…

  37. randomuser

    I set the registry key and am still getting the forced reboots. (Vista Professional)

  38. Wobble

    Is this trick part of any Tweaking software?
    I just hate keeping track of all the tweaks, tips and tricks of the registry.

  39. Charlotte Hyatt

    I downloaded the Intelli one and now no longer have to worry about it rebooting while I’m doing something.

    Mr. Linux, I have Vista Home Premium too and it happened about twice in every eight hour period. Now they just collect until I am ready to shut down or be away for a while.

    Can anybody tell me why, for the last week I have been getting the message, “Update did not install correctly, reversing updates now.”

    Can I just not install updates without harming my laptop?

  40. Ben

    the thing is seem as xp version, but I am win7,

    Q:
    so

    1. will it work?
    2. are there any bad effect or sideeffect after I apply it?

  41. Jenny P.

    I work from home as one of those 24/7 Customer Service Agents where you provide support by phone and email. I have tried to DISABLE Automatic Updates in my Windows 7 laptop but they just won’t stay off. They keep coming back on and it automatically closes everything I’m doing and logs me off! Recently I received a nasty email by my manager because he realized I was just suddenly logged off while I was supposed to be at work. Could the Automatic Updates keep coming back because I usually put my laptop to hibernate or sleep rather than shutting off completely?

  42. Mark L

    Is there a definate way to do this in Win 7 Pro?, I need my pc to be on 24/7 I do not understand why Microsoft feel the need to force my computer to re-boot.

  43. Kino Velez

    I could not find anything similar in the Windows 7 registry. It has to be out there somewhere.

  44. Robson

    thanks for this trick, I can’t believe how stupid designer of this “feature” had to be!!!!
    come on, I lost some data because of stupid windows 7 shut down my computer just to install more stupid updates :( when I was away for a moment. it is just ridiculous

  45. Luke

    This feature continues to cause me grief. I have tried disabling it in Windows 7, but every second Wednesday morning Microsoft reboots my computer and doesn’t save anything I was working on.

    Microsoft, why would you do this. This issue has been around and annoying me since Windows XP SP2.

  46. Daniel Howard

    I was forcibly rebooted while playing a game. You don’t see the warning box when you’re playing a full-scren game. So, I applied this registry hack. Thank you for the tip!

    -danny

  47. Ryan

    What a stupid design. Just now I was right in the middle of a game and my computer just reboots wtf Windows?

  48. Jer

    I usually go to an elevated command prompt and type:

    net stop “windows update”

    This stops the windows update service for the current session but does not change the service’s startup setting (meaning the service starts normally on the next bootup)

  49. Barry Karas

    Can’t I enter the registry and turn this “feature” off? If so, details please.

  50. the_knight

    What is terribly annoying is that Microsoft decided to NOT give users control over this feature. I left the computer doing some task overnight and whaddoyano?! The mofo restarted and killed the process which now will require to start over and have someone supervise the whole thing for hours and hours so that Windoze will not come in the way.

    Extremely annoying and very damaging for anyone relying on a computer for their business! Hopefully Microsoft will disable this MORONIC behavior and will default to NO Auto Reboot and if any warnings are to be issued, that should be ONLY A DAILY (EVERY 24H!) REMINDER. Most users can manage such “complexities”. Windows users HAD TO LEARN given the various problems such OS will force its users to face.

  51. Haddicus

    Honestly, I know why MS did this… If they made it easy to turn off, then everyone and their mom would disable updates and that wouldn’t be so good would it? Some people leave their computers on 24/7, which is a waste of power, as well as, not very smart on hardware. I think if people shut down their cpu’s at night, at least at home, it would make more sense to just install updates on shutdown.

    There’s really no clear solution, everyone has their own preference. Mine ultimately would be, one reminder every couple days if the computer hasn’t been shutoff for a while. Else, wait till the next shutdown/reboot to install the damn things. MS did piss off a lot of people with this, but I think many people drove MS to do so with GOBS and GOBS of 98, XP cpu’s sitting without updates for so long.

    I wish it didn’t reboot my computer last night, now I have to go through 4 c# code files, and figure out what I need to reverse because I no longer have undo on those actions that I was testing :(.

  52. Su

    auto reboot utility really works. Thank you for the information

  53. barış

    benimbilgisayarım çook yavaş

  54. utkarsh

    @Ryan B Working fine in windows 7

    and @howtogeek this above method on registry hack the path is till HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows and after window update is not exist…

  55. HELLO

    Please help me!!!! My Laptop keeps updating on its own it doesn’t ask it just does it and at the moment its updating soo i cant turn my laptop! Its been updating for 3 days now and i have to leave it on all day on charge hoping it will stop soo i can turn off but i cant! Please Help i have windows 7 and samsung laptop!
    Please help ♥

  56. Tim Meddick

    To stop yopur PC from auto-rebooting after Auto Updates, the best suggestion has already been mentioned in {comments} – namely, that (XP / Vista Professional / Buisness versions) you open the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) and navigate to, and set the following :

    Computer Configuration
    >Administrative Templates
    ->Windows Components
    –>Windows Update
    —>No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Updates installations [Enabled]
    —>Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations [300 minutes]

    In combination with the reg-hack at the begining of the article of which this comment is attached, at the very least, you will only be prompted once every 5 hours if at all!!

  57. netverse

    About : Downloadable Registry Hack

    Just download and extract the registry hack files and double-click on WUNoAutoReboot.reg to disable automatic reboots. The other script will remove the hack.

    Download WUNoAutoReboot Registry Hack
    ———————————————————————

    I can’t believe some of the people who write this stuff on the web calling registry changes, hacks. You definitely must not be a technician. The key word here should be Tweaks, adjustments, changing settings, or mods (modifications). There is absolutely no Hack involve.
    Try looking up the definition of hacking and the process involved. I am a technician, and I laugh a the terms used like “Registry Hack”.

    Here is example of a registry hack. Someone hacks into your computer and makes registry changes remotely using brute force without your knowledge.

    When a person makes system setting changes to their own computer effortlessly using regedit, it’s not a hack.

  58. A6M4

    So does this do nothing to the prompt? Or does the prompt now require input to restart? My biggest problem is it will popup, but it won’t popup on top, so I will never notice it and at some point all of my programs will just start shutting down. Nothing this OS does is more annoying, and there are a lot of them.

  59. Abhay Mittal

    Is this not for Windows XP? Because, XP does not show the option for time to remind again and also doesn’t reboot the computer forcibly.

  60. Eyal-Shilony

    @netverse, it’s all down to the context and you’re wrong.

    The term “hack” here is used to describe the non-conventional way of applying the tweak whereas using the GUI would be more intuitive and conventional for most.

    If I were you I’d probably laugh a lot less and understand a lot more, the example you gave is just silly.

  61. Johnny

    Window 7 Users:

    1. Go to Start (bottom left corner)
    2. Type in ‘search program and files’ “Windows Updates”
    3. Windows Updates should show up in menu
    4. Under Programs click on ‘Windows Update’
    4. Go to Change Settings (or it could automatically go into this folder)
    5. Choose ‘Download Updates but let me choose when to install them’
    6. Click Ok

    That should stop the auto reboot!!!

  62. Erik

    Microsoft’s choice to reboot my computer without permission is extremely offensive to me. Not having an option to not reboot is a good way to get automatic updates turned completely OFF, not a good way to protect people’s computers.

    HOW DARE THEY screw with MY property this way? I would love to find the person or group responsible for this decision so I could let them have a piece of my mind.

    What an asinine decision.

  63. Vorpaladin

    Thank you for posting this information. On my home computer I just have automatic updates turned off; trivial. The problem is with my work computer, which I keep loaded with web pages and open documents relevant to what I’m working with. It is a pain to re-setup my desktop so frequently; I am used to working on Unix workstations that almost never need rebooting. We have control freaks in IT who think it’s ok to take control of my computer’s policies rather than letting me apply intelligence to doing maintenance when it is appropriate, which I am entirely capable of doing. I can’t adjust my auto update policies using the cute little GUI that normals use for this purpose (found under control panel) because its auto update controls are disabled courtesy of the aforementioned control freaks. So I am reduced to registry hacking just to keep my computer from trashing my desktop every week. Oh well; its better than having my limbs gnawed off by rats I suppose.

  64. A

    Most of the time myself and others in the office forget and then that night microsoft decided to reboot. Who knows if they are really doing any upgrade. I think there are some people who there job is just to find computers that were left on (especially if they left any documents open because they were not yet finished) and then reboot the computer. Sometimes, I have gone for days without ever connecting to any network and at the end of the day, shutdown the computer and I get a message to “wait while upgrades are installed”. I think it is developed into the software to make people think microsoft is watching out for us.

  65. Silvi

    I just found the solution to this problem:
    1. In Windows Vista start Task Manager (right click on top of the clock to get the menu with the task manager)
    2. On the task manager select Services tab.
    3. Click on Services button.
    4. Scroll down to find Windows Update services, right click on that and on the menu select Properties.
    5. Click on Automatic update and select from the drop down menu Manual instead.
    6. Click on Stop in the same window to stop the process of restarting the bloody windows that has already started getting your nerves.
    voila

  66. Julie

    I downloaded the reboot disabler, but I have Windows Home Premium, so I am not sure if it will work. I’ll let you know if it does this nonsense again.

  67. Atib Jawad Zion

    yo, it’s so helpful! sometimes i get distgurbed by rebooting windows :8

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