Stopping Windows Update automatic reboot In Windows 7 and Vista

The Windows Update feature helps you to keep your computer up-to-date with the latest patches available from Microsoft. This free service is what we have come to expect in the way of keeping our computers more secure and running at their best.

However, I have two things that drive me crazy about the Windows Update feature. First, the dialog box that constantly pops up after an update is installed reminding me to restart my computer. If you cannot stop everything right then and reboot, this is an annoyance. Secondly, which related to the first issue, Windows Update always seems to require a reboot at the most inopportune times. I thought with XP and on we were supposed to need to reboot less frequently. True it did seem we rebooted less when going from Windows 98 or 2000 to XP, those days seem so long ago I almost don’t remember them.

To me, what is worse is Windows XP, Vista or 7 automatically rebooting. There have been many a case where I needed to move large amounts of data from one computer to another, sure enough this is the night that Microsoft sends out an update and the signal to the system to automatically reboot. Oh yeah! Now I get to start the data transfer all over!

Fortunately there are ways to disable this from happening and doing so without needing to disable Windows Update. You can disable automatic reboots from happening, however the user must be logged on, if you are logged off then the computer will still reboot. However since you are logged off, you, in theory don’t have any folders, files et al open or running.

On computers running Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Business, or Windows 7 Professional, you can disable automatic reboots through the “local group policy”.

Back on Feb 9th 2010 I wrote about doing this on computers running Windows XP Home, Windows Vista Home versions, or Windows 7 Home versions, you must make the same change by editing the registry.

To disable automatic reboots through the local group policy:

First, use ‘Task Manager’ to stop all instances of ‘Windows Update Auto Update Client’ (wuauclt.exe).

To do this right-click on the task bar and choose “Start Task Manager” from the menu (you thought I was going to tell you to press Ctrl-Alt-Del didn’t you? This is just a reminder that there are at least 3 ways to do anything in Windows.)

Now look for “wuauclt.exe” in the list under the “Processes” tab (you might be under a different tab so be sure). It “wuauclt.exe” is there, right-click on it and select “End Process”. You can sort by clicking on “Image Name”. Close the Task Manager.

Now you need to open the Group Policy Editor. Click on the Start button and type in “gpedit.msc” in the run box, press ‘Enter” once it is on the list, or click on it.

In the new window that appears, in the left hand pane, navigate to ‘Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Windows Update’.

Now on the right window pane you will see many choices. We are looking for “No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations”. Some of the text may be obscured. You can solve this by clicking and dragging the separator between the ‘Settings’ and ‘State’ sections.

Double-click to open it (No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations).

Click on ‘Enable’ then select ‘Apply’ and finally ‘OK’.

While here you can make choices and other changes such as ‘Configure Automatic Updates’ where you can select them to run more or less when you want them to. The same applies to ‘Turn on recommended updates via Automatic Updates’. Feel free to browse around and make any changes you choose.

Once you are finished, close the Group Policy Editor by selecting ‘File / Exit’.

Reboot your computer for the setting to take place.

That is all there is to it.

Until we meet again, have a virus free week!

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