Windows 10/11 logo

To prevent automatic updates on Windows 10 or Windows 11, open the Settings app, navigate to Network & Internet, select your network connection, then enable the "metered" connection option. You may also stop updates from automatically downloading using the Local Group Policy Editor in the Professional editions of Windows 10 or Windows 11.

Windows 10 and 11 PCs automatically check for updates and install any updates they find. You can take some control over this and have Windows install updates on your schedule, but these options are hidden. Windows Update really wants to automatically update on Windows 10.

Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10 and Windows 11 have access to group policy and registry settings for this, but even Home editions of Windows 10 and Windows 11 give you a way to stop updates from automatically downloading.

Prevent Automatic Downloading of Updates on a Specific Connection

RELATED: What You Need to Know About Windows Update on Windows 10

When you set a connection as “metered,” Windows won’t automatically download updates on it. Windows will automatically set certain types of connections — cellular data connections, for example — as metered. However, you can set any connection as a metered connection.

So, if you don’t want Windows 10 or Windows 11 automatically downloading updates on your home network connection, just set it as a metered connection. Windows will automatically download updates when you connect your device to an unmetered network, or when you set the network it’s connected to as unmetered again. And yes, Windows will remember this setting for each individual network, so you can disconnect from that network and reconnect all you like.

Do you have an Internet connection with limited data? Just mark it as metered and Windows 10 won’t automatically download updates on it. If your connection offers unlimited downloads at a specific time — for example, during the middle of the night — you could mark the connection as unmetered occasionally at these times to download updates and mark it as metered after the updates are downloaded.

RELATED: How to Set an Ethernet Connection as Metered in Windows 8 and 10

To change this option for a Wi-Fi network, open the Settings app, head to Network & Internet > Wi-Fi, and click the name of the Wi-Fi network you’re currently connected to. Click the switch for “Set as metered connection” option on the properties page if you’re on Windows 10. On Windows 11 click the switch next to “Metered Connection.” This option only affects the Wi-Fi network you’re currently editing, but Windows will remember this setting for each individual Wi-Fi network.

To change this option for a wired Ethernet network, open the Settings app, head to Network & Internet > Ethernet, and click the name of your Ethernet connection. Enable the “Set as metered connection” option on the properties page.

Set the Teal connection to metered.

After enabling this option, Windows Update will say “Updates are available. We’ll download the updates as soon as you connect to Wi-Fi, or you can download the updates using your data connection (charges may apply.)” By marking a connection as metered, you’ve tricked Windows into thinking it’s a mobile data connection–for example, you might be tethering your PC to your smartphone. You can click the Download button to download and install updates at your leisure.

Update status page.

Stop Windows Update From Automatically Rebooting Your Computer

RELATED: How to Set "Active Hours" So Windows 10 Won't Restart at a Bad Time

So maybe you don’t mind the automatic downloads, but you just don’t want Windows to restart while you’re in the middle of something. Windows 10 and 11 can help — each lets you set a window of time each day called “Active Hours,” during which it won’t automatically reboot.

To set Active Hours on Windows 10, head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update. Click or tap “Change Active Hours” under Update Settings. From there, you’ll set the times you don’t want Windows to automatically restart.

On Windows 11, head to Settings > Update & Security > Advanced Options and choose an option under “Active Hours.” By default, Windows 11 will automatically set your PC’s active hours depending on your actual usage of your PC, but you can change it if you like.

Change active hours page.

You can also override those active hours to schedule certain reboots when an update is ready. You can read more about how to do that here.

If you’re using Windows 11, you can pause updates for up to a five weeks at a time.

Prevent Windows Update From Installing Specific Updates and Drivers

RELATED: How to Uninstall and Block Updates and Drivers on Windows 10

If Windows 10 or 11 insist on installing a specific update or driver that’s causing problems, you can prevent Windows Update from installing that particular update. Microsoft doesn’t provide a built-in way to block updates and drivers from automatically being downloaded, but it does offer a downloadable tool that can block updates and drivers so Windows won’t download them. This gives you a way to opt out of specific updates — uninstall them and “hide” them from being installed until you unhide them.

Use Group Policy to Disable Automatic Updates (Professional Editions Only)

RELATED: Should You Upgrade to the Professional Edition of Windows 10?

Update: This option, while it still exists, seems to no longer work starting in the Anniversary Update for Windows 10, but we’ve left it here in case anyone wants to try it. Proceed at your own risk.

You should really consider leaving automatic updates enabled for security reasons. But, there is an option that will let you choose how updates are installed on your own schedule, but it’s buried in Group Policy. Only Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10 have access to the Group Policy editor. To access the group policy editor, press Windows Key + R, type the following line into the Run dialog, and press Enter:


Navigate to Computer Configuration> Administrative Templates> Windows Components > Windows Update.

Locate "Configure Automatic Updates."

Locate the “Configure Automatic Updates” setting in the right pane and double-click it. Set it to “Enabled,” and then select your preferred setting. For example, you can choose “Auto download and notify for install” or “Notify for download and notify for install.” Save the change.

Drop down menu with update configuration choices.

Visit the Windows Update pane, click “Check for updates,” and then select “Advanced options.” You should see your new setting enforced here. You’ll also see a note saying “Some settings are managed by your organization,” informing you that these options can only be changed in Group Policy.

To disable this later, go back to the Group Policy editor, double-click the “Configure Automatic Updates” setting, and then change it from “Enabled” to “Not configured.” Save your changes, visit the Windows Update pane again, click “Check for updates,” and then select “Advanced options.” You’ll see everything change back to the default setting. (Windows Update only seems to notice the setting change after you click “Check for updates.”)

Advanced options window showing that update settings are being enforced by group policy.

Use the Registry to Disable Automatic Updates (Professional Editions Only)

Update: This option, while it still exists, seems to no longer work starting in the Anniversary Update for Windows 10, but we’ve left it here in case anyone wants to try it. Proceed at your own risk.

This setting can be configured in the registry, too. This registry hack does exactly the same thing as the above Group Policy setting. However, it also only seems to work on Professional editions of Windows 10.

Download our Disable Automatic Updates on Windows 10 registry hack and double-click one of the included .reg files to make Windows Update notify for download and notify for install, auto download and notify for install, or auto download and schedule the install. There’s also a .reg file that will delete the registry value the other files create, allowing you to go back to the default settings. This only worked when we tried it on Windows 10 Pro, not Home.

After changing this option, visit the Windows Update pane in the Settings app and click “Check for updates.” You can then click “Advanced options” and you’ll see your new setting here. (You have to perform a check for updates before Windows Update notices your changed setting.)

Group policy modifying update behaviour with a registry hack

If you’d like to do this yourself, the exact setting you’ll need to change is under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindowsWindowsUpdateAU — you’ll need to create the last few keys there. Create a DWORD value named “AUOptions” under the AU key and give it one of the following values:

00000002 (Notify for download and notify for install)
00000003 (Auto download and notify for install)
00000004 (Auto download and schedule the install)

There’s another “trick” making the rounds for this. It involves disabling the Windows Update system service in the Windows Services administration tool. This isn’t a good idea at all, and it will prevent your computer from receiving even crucial security updates. While it would be nice if Microsoft offered some more choice of when to install updates, you shouldn’t opt out of security updates entirely. To prevent Windows from automatically downloading updates on any PC, just set its connection as metered.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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Profile Photo for Nick Lewis Nick Lewis
Nick Lewis is a staff writer for How-To Geek. He has been using computers for 20 years --- tinkering with everything from the UI to the Windows registry to device firmware. Before How-To Geek, he used Python and C++ as a freelance programmer. In college, Nick made extensive use of Fortran while pursuing a physics degree.
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