Windows 10 basics: How to pause and disable updates

Technology

Windows 10 updates, which Microsoft sends to your system regularly, are meant to keep your operating system current. They are, for the most part, a good thing. But very occasionally an update can go wrong, and so some Windows users prefer to postpone updates for a week or two to make sure that there aren’t any problems being delivered with the update. In addition, sometimes updates come at an inconvenient time — for example, when you’re in the middle of a project with a tight deadline.

You can’t stop updates altogether, but you can pause them. There is also a way to disable updates, but it too is not permanent. If you want to hold off in case of any potential glitches or would rather put them off as long as possible, here is how to adjust your settings.

Pause updates
Click the Start button
Click on the cog wheel in the lower left to open Settings
Open Update & Security
You should be on the Windows Update page. If you’re not, click on “Windows Update” in the left-hand sidebar.

If you have any updates pending, you’ll find them listed on top. You can also check to see if you have any updates waiting. Otherwise, you’ll be told you’re up to date. Directly below, you’ll see “Pause updates for 7 days.” Click on that to stop your device from updating for a week.
The Windows Update page will now tell you that your updates have been paused. If you want, you can keep clicking “Pause updates for 7 more days” to delay updates for additional weeks. (I was able to pause for up to five weeks.) You can click on “Resume updates” toward the top of the screen to undo this.

If you’d like to pause updates up to a specific date, click on “Advanced options” toward the bottom of the page. Scroll down to “Pause updates.” Here, you can select a date to pause updates until. Note: you can only pause updates for up to 35 days, after which you’ll have to update your device before you can pause the updates again.

Adjust restart times
Windows will usually need to restart to finish installing updates — and since an update can take your computer out of service for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, you may want to adjust the restart times for when it’s most convenient.

If an update’s available, you’ll see it at the top of the screen. If you don’t see that an update is available, click “Check for updates” at the top of the Windows Update menu to make sure.
If updates are ready, you can click “Restart now” to restart immediately (and get it over with). Assuming you don’t want to do that, click on “Schedule the restart” to finish the install later.

Toggle “Schedule a time” from off to on.
Select a time and date. Don’t forget to click the check mark at the bottom of the drop-down options for time to save the selected time.

If you go back to the Windows Update page and click on Advanced options, you can toggle on several update options, including “Show a notification when your PC requires a restart to finish updating” and “Restart this device as soon as possible when a restart is required to install an update.”

Windows can, if you choose, track when you use your device to schedule update restarts at a convenient time. You can use this feature, called active hours, to adjust what times your device can restart.

In Windows Update, go to “Change active hours.”
You can toggle on “Automatically adjust active hours for this device based on activity.”
You can set your own active hours by clicking on the “Change” link next to the current active hours.

Adjust the times in the pop-up window and click “Save.”

Disable updates
If you want to stop updates from happening for longer than that, there is a way to disable updates. However, even this is not permanent; most sites report that eventually (especially with a reboot), updates do resume. This may give you some breathing space, however.

Use Win+R to open the “Run” box, and type in “services.msc.” Hit “OK.”

Scroll down to Windows Update and double-click on it.

In the “Startup type” drop-down menu, select “Disabled.”

Click “Okay” and restart your PC.
If you change your mind, you can follow these steps to re-enable it. You may note that you can choose “Manual” or “Automatic.” (Most Windows 10 PCs come set to Manual, which simply means that the update is triggered by an event and doesn’t happen automatically when you reboot.)