Take control of Windows 10 updates

Updates don't need to also be interruptions.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
3 min read

You can have your 3D Paint and VR capability. My favorite feature of Windows 10 Creators Update is the ability to stop Windows from forcing updates on me at the most inconvenient of times. Creators Update gives you much more control over how and when system updates occur. Let's take a look at how to set up Windows 10 so its updates happen without interrupting your workflow.

Active hours

To get started, open Settings and click Update & security and check that the default Active Hours for updates match your active hours. Active hours let you tell Windows when you typically are laboring at your PC; during active hours, Windows will not restart your machine to install updates without asking first. Nice manners, Windows!

On the Windows Update panel, click Change active hours. By default, they are set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. but you can adjust according to your most productive times of the day (or night). Your active-hours window can be up to 18 hours long.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Restart options

Under the Change active hours link is Restart options, which lets you override your active hours to install an update. Let's say an update is ready that has yet to install and you have a long lunch scheduled, you can schedule a time to restart your PC to install the update while you're out. This is a one-time setting for an individual update and doesn't open a crack in your active-hours window for subsequent updates.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

You can also install an update right here and now. If an update is available, you'll be notified at the top of the Windows Update panel in Settings. To initiate installation immediately, click the Restart now button.

Advanced options (Pro only)

If you are using Windows 10 Pro (sorry, Home users), then you'll see a link for Advanced options below Restart options on the Windows Update panel. Here, you'll see three drop-down menus under the Choose when updates are installed header.  

The first gives you a choice between Current Branch or Current Branch for Business. Current Branch delivers updates as soon as Microsoft makes them available. Current Branch for Business adds about a four-month delay in the update cycle and is meant for broad deployments in large organizations because an extra testing cycle is included to make sure the update is fully stable.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

The second drop-down menu lets you defer a feature update for up to 365 days, while the third drop-down lets you defer a quality update for up to 30 days. Windows 10 has two release types: feature updates that add new functionality twice per year, and quality updates that provide security and reliability fixes at least once a month.

Next, in the Pause Updates section, you can toggle on the pausing of all update for up to 35 days. Sometimes you just need a break.

Hit the snooze button

When an update arrives, Windows displays a large notification with three options: Restart now, Pick a time or Snooze


The notification won't go away until you pick one. Hitting the snooze button lets you pause the update for three days, and you can hit this snooze button as many times as you want. If you have managed to snooze an update for 35 days, Microsoft still won't push the update to you without you agreeing first, but it will change the Snooze button to a Remind Me Tomorrow button, upping the frequency with which you'll need to continue snoozing the update.