Making Windows 10 Updates Less Inconvenient

Windows 10 is a bit dictatorial with its Updates, but we can make life a bit easier for ourselves

On/Off switchWith Windows 7, we had the option of turning off Windows Updates and it seems to many of my computer support clients that it is high-handed (at the very least) for Microsoft to insist we take updates in Windows 10. If you have Windows 10 Professional then you can defer updates for many weeks (in the hope that other people will have found all the bugs to save you the grief). However, most standard PCs and laptops don’t come with Windows Professional. They come with Windows Home.

There are two main reasons that people get so frustrated with Windows Home Updates:

  • It can insist on installing updates at the most inconvenient of times (and take a long time doing it)
  • It can break Windows

As far as the first is concerned, we can mitigate the problem by telling Windows the hours of the day during which we do not want uodates to get in our way. To do this:

  • Click on the Start button
  • Start typing the word “update” until you see the option “Windows Update Settings” appear in the menu
  • Click on “Windows Update Settings”
  • Click on “Change Active Hours”
  • Set the hours during which you most often use your computer

There are two things worth noting here:

  • You can only set “active” hours for a maximum of 18 hours out of 24.
  • A “restart” (reboot) can still happen during Active Hours if you don’t happen to be “active” on your computer at a time that Windows decides it wants to reboot in order to install new updates

Windows 10- Change Update HoursThe second of these limitations can be particularly exasperating. Suppose that you are working like the clappers to get some important work finished before a deadline. In order to keep you going while you work, you drink gallons of coffee.The inevitable happens and you have to go to the loo. “Aha, got you”, thinks Windows (a lot of people I know do actually anthropomorphise their computer and think that Windows is some kind of evil sprite inside it). So, while your back is turned it reboots the computer and then proceeds to take two hours (not unheard of) to install the update.

Windows 10 - UpdatingThe second main reason that people don’t like Window 10 Updates is that it can break Windows. So many people have at least heard of this happening to someone else that the process of a Windows Update is now seen by a lot of people as something to be feared. They would rather not get updates. They tend to take the rather simplistic view of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

The problem with this attitude is that we live in a time of constant change of technology. What worked yesterday (and what might have been safe yesterday) may not work (or be safe) today. I can’t see a time in the foreseeable future when technological development will have reached such a state of maturity that updates/patches/fixes won’t be needed.

For better or worse, I think that Microsoft may be right to force updates on us as the only feasible way forward.

Having said that, there is a way that we can stop Windows from updating. I don’t recommend turning off Windows Updates permanently using this method, but it could be useful in special circumstances (such as the example above regarding deadlines).

Anyway, for better or worse, I will tell you how to turn Windows Updates off (and on again) next time.