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How to configure active hours on Windows 11

Windows 11 active hours configuration
Windows 11 active hours configuration (Image credit: Windows Central)

On Windows 11, "active hours" is a feature that helps to minimize the chances of sudden reboots to apply system updates. The feature works by tracking and figuring out when you are actively using the computer and schedule reboots when the device is not in use.

The caveat is that "active hours" is not perfect, and the device may still reboot unexpectedly. If this already happened to you or you want to avoid unexpected reboots, Windows 11 includes an option to manually set the active hours time range.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the steps to configure active hours to avoid sudden restarts as you are actively using your device.

How to configure Windows 11 active hours using Settings

To change the active hours manually on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Windows Update.
  3. Click the Advanced options page on the right.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Active hours setting.
  2. Use the drop-down menu and select the Manually option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the Start time when you will be using the computer.
  2. Select the End time (up to 18 hours) when you will no longer be using the computer.

Once you complete the steps, when an update is pending for installation, Windows 11 won't reboot the system during the start and end time range you specified in the feature.

If you want to revert the changes to allow the system to determine when your computer should restart, use the same instructions mentioned above, but on Step Five, make sure to select the Automatic option.

How to configure Windows 11 active hours using Group Policy

To change the active hours settings through Group Policy, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for gpedit.msc and click OK to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Browse the following path:Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Update > Manage end user experience
  4. On the right side, double-click the Turn off auto-restart for updates during active hours policy.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the Enabled option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Options" section, in the Active Hours setting, use the Start and End options to specify when you will be using the computer to prevent automatic restarts during a Windows 11 update.
  2. Click the Apply button.
  3. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, active hours will use the time range you specified, and users won't be able to modify the configuration through the Settings app until you undo the policy.

If you want to undo the changes, you can use the instructions outlined above, but on Step Five, select the Not configured option.

Although you can still adjust the active hours settings, it's no longer possible to disable the feature as it was possible on Windows 10.

How to reschedule Windows 11 automatic restart using Settings

To schedule a restart to finish applying an update, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Windows Update.
  3. Click the Schedule the restart option.Quick note: The option is only available when a reboot is already pending.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Schedule a time" section, turn on the toggle switch.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Schedule a time and date to postpone the restart (up to seven days in the future).Once you complete the steps, the computer won't reboot until the schedule you specified in the settings.

How to configure Windows 11 automatic restart deadline using Group Policy

Alternatively, if you want to specify a new default schedule that the computer may use to apply new updates automatically, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor. The only caveat is that you need to consider that configuring this option may restart the device inside the active hours.

To change the deadline to restart the device to apply updates through Group Policy, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for gpedit.msc and click OK to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Browse the following path:Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Update > Legacy Policies
  4. On the right side, double-click the Specify deadline before auto-restart for update installation policy.
    1. Select the Enabled option.
    2. Under "Options," use the drop-down menu to specify the number of days to wait before your computer restarts automatically to finish installing quality and feature updates.
    Quick note: Although the option shows up to 30 days, the policy says you can use any number between 2 and 14. Also, you have to make sure that the "No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations" and "Always automatically restart at scheduled time" policies are not enabled for the policy to work.
    1. Click the Apply. button
    2. Click the OK button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, the computer will reboot automatically on the schedule you specified.

If you change your mind, you can revert the changes using the same instructions, but on Step Five, select the Not Configured option.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.