Windows 10 automatically installs updates in the background. The only way to prevent them from being installed is to set your connection as metered so they don’t download automatically. But updates — especially major new builds of Windows 10 like the November update — could potentially cause problems.
This shouldn’t be necessary most of the time, but it’s something to try if you find your computer suddenly has a new problem. Microsoft’s patches aren’t perfect, and avoiding an update until it’s fixed might help. It’s also essential to follow these steps if you’ve learned a recent update is causing problems with your software or hardware.
Uninstall Major Updates, or “Builds”
There are two different types of updates in Windows 10. Aside from traditional patches, there are occasional big “builds” of Windows 10 that are released. The first new build of Windows 10 released is was the “November update” released in November, 2015. This is actually Windows 10 version 1511.
This is also an essential troubleshooting step if you’re part of the Windows Insider Program and you’re helping test new, unstable preview builds of Windows 10. If a build you install is too unstable, you can roll back to the one you were previously using.
To do this, open the Start screen or Start menu and select Settings. Navigate to Update & security > Recovery. Click or tap the “Get started” button under “Go back to an earlier build” to uninstall the current build of Windows 10 and go back to the one you were using previously.
This isn’t a way to opt out of new builds permanently. Windows 10 will automatically download and install the next major build that’s released. If you’re using the stable version of Windows 10, that may be a few months away. If you’re using the insider preview builds, you’ll likely get a new build much sooner.
If you don’t see this option, that’s because it’s been too long since you upgraded to the current build. Windows 10 will automatically remove these installation files after 30 days. It’s also possible that you ran the Disk Cleanup tool and removed the “Previous Windows installation(s)” files. Builds are treated practically like new versions of Windows, which is why you uninstall a build in the same way you’d uninstall Windows 10 and revert to Windows 8.1 or 7. You’d have to reinstall Windows 10 or restore your computer from a full-system backup to go back to a previous build after those 30 days are up.
Thanks to Windows 10’s new “Reset this PC” design, you can’t go back to an older build of Windows 10 by resetting your PC. Reset your PC and Windows 10 will give you a fresh system using the current build of Windows. This saves time, as you won’t have to update Windows 10 from scratch when you reset it — something you had to do with Windows 8.
Uninstall Typical Windows Updates
You can also uninstall the regular, more minor updates that Microsoft constantly rolls out, just as you could on previous versions of Windows 10.
To do this, open the Settings app, navigate to Update & security > Windows Update, select “Advanced options”, select “View your update history”, and then select “Uninstall updates”.
This pane also shows a list of the updates Windows has recently installed.
The Windows Control Panel will open with a list of recently installed updates. You can also access this by opening the Control Panel itself, clicking “Uninstall a program” under Programs, and then clicking “View installed updates” in the sidebar.
This list automatically sorts updates by the date they’re installed on. You can examine this list to see which updates were installed recently, if you’re looking for an update that may have caused problems. You can use the search box at the top-right corner of the window to search for a specific update by its KB number, if you know the exact number of the update you want to uninstall.
Select an update and click “Uninstall” — or double-click it — to uninstall it.
This list only allows you to remove updates that Windows has installed since installing the previous “build”. Every build is a fresh slate that new minor updates are applied to. There’s no way to avoid a particular update forever, as it will eventually be rolled into the next major build of Windows 10. Think of these builds a bit like the old “Service Packs” — they include all the changes that have been made to Windows 10.
To prevent a minor update from reinstalling itself, you may have to download Microsoft’s “Show or hide updates” troubleshooter and “block” the update from automatically downloading in the future. This shouldn’t be necessary, but we’re not entirely sure if Windows 10 will eventually try to re-download and install updates you’ve manually uninstalled. Even the “Show or hide updates” troubleshooter can only “temporarily prevent” this, according to Microsoft.
Windows 10’s updates should hopefully be more stable than ever thanks to the new insider program that allows many people to test updates before they roll out to the masses, but uninstalling a problematic update and waiting for a fixed one may be necessary at some point.
Image Credit: Matti Mattila on Flickr