As you may already know, Windows 10 automatically checks for updates, downloads and installs them. It has become much harder to deactivate automatic updates in comparison with previous versions of the operating system. But it is still possible and can be done using administration tools or third-party programs. This article contains detailed instructions that explain how you can completely disable system updates. If you need to know how to prevent the installation of the concrete update and delete it, you should look for another guide on our website where we’ve covered that aspect.
Deactivate automatic updates in Windows 10 allowing only manual installations
After the release of Windows 10 1709 Fall Creators Update and 1803 April Update most methods invented for disabling updates stopped working: Windows Update service would activate without your permission (until a new blocking method was found later), blocking hosts had no effect, tasks in the Task Scheduler got active automatically, older registry settings didn’t work in some version of Windows. It took time, but today we have a tested solution to disable Windows 10 updates (well, at least it blocks core functions such as automatic search, download, and installation.
Windows 10 has a task Schedule Scan (in the UpdateOrchestrator section) that uses system command C:\Windows\System32\UsoClient.exe to check for updates regularly. And we can do some manipulations to make it stop. However, updates for Windows Defender that contain malware and virus database updates will continue to install automatically.
How to disable Schedule Scan and automatic updates
In order to prevent Schedule Scan from doing its job – automatic checks and downloads of any Windows 10 updates – we can create an exception in UsoClient.exe that won’t allow reading and execution of the mentioned task. Follow these steps to complete the procedure (remember that you must be doing this with administrator privileges):
1. Run Command Prompt as Administrator. You can do it by right-clicking the Start button and selecting that option from the list that will appear. Or you can just press Win+X to make that list appear.
2. Now you need to type the following command: takeown /f c:\windows\system32\usoclient.exe /a and press Enter.
3. Close Command Prompt and go to the folder C:\Windows\System32. Find a file with the name usoclient.exe, right-click it and select "Properties."
4. Go to the "Security" tab and click the "Edit" button.
5. Uncheck "Allow" for all parameters in the "Permissions" section.
6. Press "OK" to confirm changes made.
7. Reboot your computer.
After doing so, Windows 10 updates won’t be installed (and searched) automatically. However, you can still run a check for new updates manually and install them when needed (from the Start menu select "Settings" - "Update & Security" - "Windows Update" - "Check for updates"). You can always reverse the procedure and allow the system to use the usoclient.exe file again. In order to do that, you just need to run Command Prompt as administrator and type: icacls c:\windows\system32\usoclient.exe" /reset (note: this command does not reset permissions for TrustedInstaller).
Next time Windows 10 will try to access the usoclient.exe file, you may see an error message "Access is denied" - nothing to worry about. Steps 3-6 from the list above can also be completed via the Command Prompt tool, but we would rather recommend the visualized method because groups and users with permissions have a tendency to change with new Windows updates (and in Command Prompt, you need to type their names manually).
Disable Windows Update service
This method works for not only Professional and Enterprise versions of Windows 10 but also does the job for the Home version (if you have Windows 10 Professional we still recommend using the method with the local group policy editor, which will be detailed further). So, all we have to do is to disable the Windows Update center. Before we begin, we must inform you that we cannot guarantee this method will work as described in later builds starting from 1709 (the service activates automatically over time). However, if you are using any build before 1709, it will be ok.
After you disable this service, your operating system won’t be able to download new updates and install them automatically until you turn it back on. It seems that Microsoft patched the system in later updates so that Windows Update service can activate itself. But we know how to deal with this problem and disable it for good. This is what you need to do:
- Press Win+R and type services.msc in the small window that will appear. Hit Enter.
- Now, when you are in the Services menu, look for the line Windows Update and double-click it.
- Its status will be marked as "Running" - you need to stop it by pressing the button with the same name. In addition, you need to set its Startup type to "Disabled." Apply changes and click "OK."
- If you leave everything in this state, Windows Update will activate itself after some time. In order to prevent that from happening, you need to go to another tab – Log On – in the same Windows Update windows and select "This account," then click "Browse."
- Click on "Advanced," then select "Find now." You will see a list of users where you must select a user that has no admin rights, for example, default Guest account.
- In boxes "Password" and "Confirm password," delete everything (this account has no password) and apply changes.
Now automatic system updates will never annoy you again. When you need it back on, you can retrace your steps and change the "Log on as" parameter back to Local System account.
How to disable Windows Updates with the group policy editor
Before we proceed, we would like to remind you that this method is only for Windows 10 Professional and Enterprise users as it involves the group policy editor, which is not available in the Home edition of Windows 10. In our opinion, this method is the best way to deal with the problem of automatic Windows updates. Please, follow these instructions:
1. Start the local group policy editor by pressing Win+R and entering the following command: gpedit.msc
2. Go to "Computer Configuration" - "Administrative Templates" - "Windows Components" - "Windows Update" and double-click the last one.
3. In the next menu to appear, look for the setting "Allow Automatic Updates immediate installation" and click it twice.
4. Set it to "Disabled" and forget about Windows 10 installing updated without your permission.
Close the editor tool, then go to the system settings menu and initiate a check for updates (it is needed for changes to apply correctly. That manual check will find new updates ready to be downloaded and installed, but in future, no automated actions will be allowed).
The same process can be done with the help of the Registry Editor (the method is not going to work in Windows 10 Home edition). You just need to open the Registry (press Win+R and type regedit, then hit Enter) and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU and create a new DWORD setting with the name NoAutoUpdate and set its value data to 1 (if it is not already there).
Sometimes you need to prevent a certain specific update from installing on your computer as it poses a threat to the stability of your system. Microsoft knows about their operating system’s flaws and created an official utility Microsoft Show or Hide Updates just for situations like this one. Follow these simple steps:
1. Download the tool from the official website and install it.
2. Run the app, press "Next," then select "Hide Updates."
3. Select updates you want to block.
4. Press "Next" and wait for the program to complete the process.
After this, any selected updates won’t be installed on your computer. In case you change your mind and want to install those updates, run the program again and select "Show hidden updates." Then just remove the updates you need from the list of hidden updates.
Programs to disable Windows Update
When Windows 10 was released, it took mere weeks for various third-party programs with feature-disabling functionality to appear. Users didn’t like "info-digging" functions of the system and found new ways to disable them. Some apps were developed to block automatic updates of the system as well.
There are tons of third-party programs today, and we cannot review them all. That is why we are going to talk about the one we know and used ourselves. It is called Win Updates Disabler, and it has a standard version and a portable version as well (we used the second one).
All you need to do after downloading the program – is to select the box "Disable Windows Updates" and press "Apply Now." You need administrator right to work with this program and apply changes. In addition to update-disabling functions, it also deactivates the Windows firewall and Windows Defender.