How to stop those irritating automatic Windows updates

Instead of waiting for Windows to update itself, you can do manual updates on a regular basis.

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If you use Microsoft Windows, you can likely relate to my colleague Sean Hollister who recently documented at length the number of times that the automatic Windows Update feature has caused him pain. Sitting through an unwanted update can involve an unwanted restart and will take up your time and internet bandwidth.

You can avoid the worst of this by adjusting Windows Update's active hours, which specifies a period when an automatic restart supposedly won't take place. But this will only work if you leave the computer on during the non-active hours.

If you want to make absolutely sure that Windows won't update at an inappropriate time, take matters into your own hands and run Windows Update manually. It's a good idea to do this before a big event, like the day before an important presentation. And it's easy -- here's how:

  1. Click the Start Button, then click Settings -- it's the button with the cogwheel symbol.
  2. Click on the button that reads Update & Security.
  3. On the Windows Update tab, click on Check for updates. Here you can also change Windows Update's Active hours.

Alternatively, you can also type "Check for updates" into the Windows search field.

Or you can create a desktop shortcut by right-clicking an empty space on the desktop, select New and click on Shortcut, then use ms-settings:windowsupdate as the location of the item the shortcut points to.

It's quick to perform a manual Windows update.

Dong Ngo

Now just wait for the updates (if any) to be downloaded and installed. In most cases that's all you'll need to do. Windows may ask to restart once the update is complete. You can wait until you know you have a few minutes to spare, then restart the computer.

If you do this once a week or a few times a month, you'll never be caught off guard by a new update. And the update process will be quicker since you install only one or two at a time rather than a whole bunch of them.