How to stop automatic updates on Windows 10

Windows 10 disable automatic updates
(Image credit: Future)

On Windows 10, cumulative updates download and install automatically as soon as they become available. Although this approach allows laptops and desktop computers to receive security updates to patch vulnerabilities, improve performance, and bring enhancements without user interaction, it is a very controversial feature.

Typically, it's because updates contain bugs that can negatively affect the experience in many ways. For example, they could break existing features, introduce driver and application compatibility problems, or cause the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD), and they require a system restart to complete the installation, which can disrupt your workflow.

If you experience more problems than benefits during updates, or if you have a good reason to use a device without updates, depending on your edition of Windows 10, you can disable automatic updates using the Settings app or permanently with Group Policy and Registry.

This guide will walk you through the steps to prevent Windows Update from automatically downloading and installing updates on Windows 10.

How to disable automatic updates using Settings

You do not need to disable Windows Update permanently if you want to prevent the system from downloading a specific update immediately. Instead, you could pause updates for up to seven days.

To disable automatic updates temporarily, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the "Pause updates for 7 days" option.

Windows 10 pause updates

(Image credit: Future)

Once you complete the steps, Windows Update will no longer download for the time you specified. When the system reaches the pause limit, you will need to install the latest patch available to make the option available again.

You can always undo the changes with the instructions outlined above, but on step 4, choose the Select date option. Alternatively, you can accomplish the same effect by clicking the Resume updates button.

How to disable automatic updates using Group Policy

On Windows 10 Pro, the Local Group Policy Editor includes policies to permanently disable automatic updates or change the update settings to choose when patches should be installed on the device.

Disable Windows 10 updates

To disable automatic updates on Windows 10 permanently, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for gpedit.msc and click the top result to launch the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Navigate to the following path: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update
  4. Double-click the "Configure Automatic Updates" policy on the right side.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Check the Disabled option to turn off automatic Windows 10 updates permanently.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Apply button.
  2. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, Windows 10 will stop downloading updates automatically. However, the ability to check for updates manually will continue to be available on Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and clicking the Check for updates button to download the most recent patches as needed.

If you want to enable automatic updates on the computer again, you can use the same instructions outlined above, but in step 5, make sure to select the Not Configured option.

Limit Windows 10 updates

The Local Group Policy Editor also lets you choose how to disable automatic updates.

To manage Windows Update automatic downloads with Group Policy on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for gpedit.msc and select the top result to launch the experience.
  3. Navigate to the following path: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update
  4. Double-click the Configure Automatic Updates policy on the right side.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Check the Enable option to turn on the policy.
  2. Under the "Options" section, select the option to prevent updates from downloading automatically on Windows 10:
  • 2 — Notify for download and auto install.
  • 3 — Auto download and notify for install.
  • 4 — Auto download and schedule the install.
  • 5 — Allow local admin to choose setting.
  • 7 — Auto Download, Notify to install, Notify to Restart.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Quick tip: The best option to disable automatic updates is the 2 — Notify for download and auto install option, but you can make a different selection. If you choose option 2, updates won't download automatically. Instead, you will now see an "Install now" button to manually trigger an update on the Windows Update settings page.
  1. Click the Apply button.
  2. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, automatic updates will be permanently disabled on Windows 10. However, when new updates become available, you can install them manually from the Windows Update settings page.

How to disable automatic updates with Registry

You can also use the Registry in two different ways to disable automatic updates on Windows 10.

Warning: This is a friendly reminder that editing the Registry is risky and can cause irreversible damage to your installation if you don't do it correctly. Before proceeding, it's recommended to make a backup of your PC.

Disable updates

To disable Windows 10 updates permanently by changing the Registry settings, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for regedit and click the top result to launch the Registry Editor.
  3. Navigate to the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
  4. Right-click the Windows (folder) key, select the New submenu and choose the Key option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Name the new key WindowsUpdate and press Enter.
  2. Right-click the newly created key, select the New submenu, and choose the Key option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Name the new key AU and press Enter.
  2. Right-click the AU key, select the New submenu, and choose the DWORD (32-bit) Value option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Name the new key NoAutoUpdate and press Enter.
  2. Double-click the newly created key and change its value from 0 to 1.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the OK button.
  2. Restart the computer.

After you complete the steps, automatic updates will be disabled permanently on the device. However, you will still be able to download updates by clicking the Check for updates button on the Windows Update settings page.

If you want to undo the changes, you can use the same instructions outlined above, but on step 4, right-click the WindowsUpdate key, select the Delete option, then reboot the computer to apply the settings.

Limit updates

Finally, you can use the Registry to configure the system settings to decide how to get updates on Windows 10.

To use the Registry to stop automatic updates (but choosing how to receive updates), use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for regedit and click the top result to open the Registry Editor.
  3. Navigate to the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
  4. Right-click the Windows (folder) key, select the New submenu and choose the Key option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Name the new key WindowsUpdate and press Enter.
  2. Right-click the newly created key, select the New submenu, and choose the Key option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Name the new key AU and press Enter.
  2. Right-click the AU key, select the New submenu, and select the DWORD (32-bit) Value option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Name the new key AUOptions and press Enter.
  2. Double-click the newly created key and change the value (number only) to: 
  • 2 — Notify for download and auto install.
  • 3 — Auto download and notify for install.
  • 4 — Auto download and schedule the install.
  • 5 — Allow local admin to choose settings.
  • 7 — Auto Download, Notify to install, Notify to Restart.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Quick note: These options are the same as the Group Policy settings, and option 2 is the closest to disable Windows Update permanently.
  1. Click the OK button.
  2. Restart the computer.

Once you complete the steps, cumulative updates will no longer download and install automatically. However, when a new update becomes available, you will find the option to install it manually from the Windows Update settings.

You can use the same instructions outlined above to restore the original settings, but on step 4, right-click the WindowsUpdate key, select the Delete option, and reboot the computer.

Updates are essential to fix security vulnerabilities, resolve issues, and improve the overall experience, no matter the version of Windows you use. However, you may still need to disable this feature in some situations. For instance, when you want to have complete control over updates on Windows 10, when you want to avoid issues since bugs are common in most rollouts, or when you are using a critical app or equipment and you do not want to encounter any compatibility issues.

More 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.