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Temporarily Disable "Restart Now" Dialog from XP’s Automatic Updates

Automatic Updates is a great feature. Your computer stays protected from threats without worrying about it… but if it’s 3am and I’m trying to play a video game, the last thing I want is for the automatic updates to pop up and remind me every 5 minutes that I need to reboot, interrupting my game… Drives me crazy!

Dear Restart Dialog,

I hate you.

If you want to temporarily disable this popup message and delay rebooting, you can go about it one of two ways. I’m a command line junkie, so I just type this into a command prompt (make sure you use the quotes)

net stop “automatic updates”

Or you can open Control Panel \ Administrative Tools \ Services and click Stop on automatic updates.

Do not disable the automatic updates service, just stop it. The next time you start up your computer, it will restart.

Note: If you open the Automatic Updates icon in Control Panel, it will automatically restart the service, which will make the dialog start popping up again.

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 05/9/07

Comments (21)

  1. Takoca

    Hello!

    I think the “net stop wuauserv” is a better command, because it is working every language version of XP!
    I.

  2. k henderson

    Some folks leave their PC’s running all of the time even at night and those folks should think twice before they stop the update service as described here. The PC is effectively running unpatched and the update service wont start again until the PC is restarted. this article could be a little more clear about the potential danger in that scenario.

  3. vinod

    windows XP – i re-formated my pc and i always get Memory dump blue screen on start up asking to re-boot pls help how do i resolve this problem

  4. Jimmy

    Thanks! Really neat tip… ;) When i am playing at 3a.m. and the restart dialog disapears i’ll be thanking you :)

  5. Pirate

    Some people dont want to update so they will disable it :)

  6. Marco

    Click Start, Run and enter the command: net stop wuauserv No need for quotes. Works just fine.

  7. Gordy Iverson

    To the Geek. You have the best site – I’ve said it before, but some of these links come up with a dark, dark blue background upon which it is nearly imposssible to read the black text, even turning my monitor to 100% brightness. Could you adjust the level of blue somewhere between what it is and deep sky blue? Sure would be easy on the eyes!
    Thanks for your time, and great information,
    Gordy in Tacoma

  8. The Geek

    Gordy,

    I’m not sure which links you are talking about… drop me an email and we can discuss.

  9. Old Geek

    Geek,

    Better to (Disable) Automatic Update Service and put a sticky note on the system to manually check often for patches. Microsoft published a bad update in December which took millions of computers off the net before a “fix” could be published.

    Not a good idea to trust anyone with your system including MS.

    Also the Reboot after updating is highly important so that files, objects, services, etc., which are in use at the time of updating can be replaced.

    Intervening in the scripted process causes problems.

    Kindest Regards,

    Old Geek

  10. Anon

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been on the verge of thrashing my computer.

  11. Erm..

    I use:
    net stop “automatic updates
    (note no end quote as it makes me feel like a rebel)
    I do it as I usually have to many things running on my work PC at the time, but turn it off at night so it gets its reboot then.

    However in recent months I’ve notice the service starts again all by itself. I’ve not even gone in to control panel, never mind the automatic update section. I’ve started leaving the dos window open so I can run it again with a couple of keystrokes (up arrow and return). It usually dies for good on the second attempt.

    They know our tricks and making windows more painful for us again.

    Now, if only I could stop AVG Free from showing popups…

  12. Dan

    I am having a problem with win vista. On startup, it goes automaticaly to “Windows is configuring updates Step 3 of 3 0%” then “shutting down”, it does this on a constant loop never getting past 0% and I cannot get it to abort update or get far enough into windows to do anything. Please help.

  13. Shaakunthala

    Simply drag the restart dialog into a corner of the screen and so you cant see it. Do not hit the Restart Later button. And then it won’t bother.

    Thanks.

  14. iChris.nl

    Shaakunthala (and others),

    If you are working on something and running a lot of programs, it could be very handy to stop the pc from restarting within 4.5 minutes. I can’t stand the fact that Windows XP has a timer -_-

    [code]net stop wuauserv[/code]
    Thanks a lot!

  15. SS

    Shankuntala,

    For people who play games in full screen mode your tip may not work since when this dialogue comes up now and then the game window gets minimized which is a pain ..

    For all others it works just fine..

    Cheers.

  16. Zvi

    I had 3 minutes to Google the solution for this problem before Windows would shut down and destroy a process that had been taking place for ~15 minutes, and this article made me prevent it! Thanks! :)

  17. Felicia

    I always wondered if it was really truly necessary to always reboot after an update, it’s highly annoying.

  18. John Mack

    I have to second what Old Geek said. Microsoft occasionally does issue faulty updates so waiting a period of time before installing is a good idea unless the update is really critical due to a virus. Also, disabling the restart after installation is not a good idea. From my own experience I’ve found that not restarting immediately after installation but later is not an optimal situation for the computer and can cause problems.

    Generally speaking, I think “How-to-Geek” is a great site but a little too trusting in Microsoft. After all, it is a for-profit enterprise.

  19. Malek

    Awesome! I am currently defragging my laptop and it is going to take around ten hours at least (unfortunately for me). With the Automatic Updates dialogue popping up every fifteen minutes and threatening to switch off my laptop, I couldn’t just leave it running so I was faced with the frightening prospect of spending ten days AT LEAST defragging my laptop. Now I can leave it to run it’s course and not go crazy, yay! :D

  20. keksi

    hey, thanks for your guide, but the correct syntax to break an update per cmd is:

    net stop wuauserv

  21. Petr

    You can disable it without having to stop the WU service. Check this out: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2005/05/xp-automatic-update-nagging.html

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