How-To Geek

How to Change How Long Updates Are Deferred in Windows 10

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The Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10 allow you to defer updates so they are not downloaded for a while. You can use Local Group Policy to set a different deferral period than the default.

Microsoft splits Windows updates into three broad categories:

  • Security updates fix major vulnerabilities. You cannot defer security updates at all.
  • Feature updates include new features and significant updates to existing features. When you defer updates using the regular Windows Update interface, feature updates are not downloaded for a period of 60 days. Using Group Policy, you can specify a deferral period of up to 180 days.
  • Quality updates are more like traditional operating system updates and include minor security fixes, critical, and driver updates. When you defer updates using the Windows Update interface, quality updates are not downloaded for a period of 35 days by default. Using Group Policy, you can set the deferral period anywhere up to 30 days.

Note that if you’re using the Home edition of Windows 10, you cannot defer updates at all.

Before you get started, be aware that the Local Group Policy Editor is a pretty powerful tool. If you’ve never used it before, it’s worth taking some time to learn what it can do. Also, if you’re on a company network, do everyone a favor and check with your admin first. If your work computer is part of a domain, it’s also likely that it’s part of a domain group policy that will supersede the local group policy, anyway.

Fire up Local Group Policy Editor by hitting Start, typing “gpedit.msc,” and then hitting Enter.

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In the Local Group Policy Editor, on the left-hand side, drill down to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Defer Upgrades and Updates.

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On the right-hand side, double-click the “Select when Feature Updates are received” setting to open its properties window.

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In the properties window, select the “Enabled” option. If you want to defer updates, enter any number up to 180 days in the “After a feature update is released, defer receiving it for this many days ” box. Alternatively, you can select the “Pause feature updates” option to put off updates for 60 days or until you clear the check box. Using the pause feature is essentially the same as using the regular defer updates feature in the Windows Update interface except that you can come back to the Local Group Policy Editor and uncheck the box if you’d like to end the pause and get the updates.

The other option you have in this window is the branch readiness level for receiving feature updates. The “Current Branch” gets updates when Microsoft deems the features are ready for general use. The “Current Branch for Business” gets feature updates when Microsoft feels they are ready for enterprise deployment. If you’d like to get feature updates sooner, choose “Current Branch.” If you’d like to delay new features as long as possible, choose “Current Branch for Business.”

When you’re done setting options, click “OK.”

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Back in the main Local Group Policy Editor window, double-click the “Select when Quality Updates are received” setting to open its properties window.

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In the properties window, select the “Enabled” option. Note that there is no branch selection option for quality updates. You can set the the number of days to defer updates anywhere up to 30 days. Using the pause feature is again just like using the deferral option in the Windows Update interface. It will pause updates for 35 days or until you come back and uncheck the option. When you’re done setting options, click “OK.”

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You can now close Local Group Policy Editor. There’s no need to restart your PC or anything. Changes take place immediately and you should not receive quality and feature updates for whatever period you set.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Published 12/29/16

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