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Windows 10 basics: How to pause updates

Windows 10 basics: How to pause updates
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

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Windows 10 updates, which Microsoft sends to your system regularly, are meant to keep your operating system current. They are, for the most part, a good thing. But very occasionally an update can go wrong, and so some Windows users prefer to postpone updates for a week or two to make sure that there aren’t any problems being delivered with the update. In addition, sometimes updates come at an inconvenient time — for example, when you’re in the middle of a project with a tight deadline.

You can’t stop updates altogether, but you can pause them. If you don’t want to install updates or would rather hold off in case of any potential glitches, here is how to adjust your settings.

Pause updates

  • Click the Start button.
  • Click on the cog to open up Settings.
  • Open Update and Security.
  • You should be on the Windows Update page. If you’re not, click on “Windows Update” in the left-hand sidebar.
  • If you have any updates pending, you’ll find them listed on top. Otherwise, you’ll be told you’re up to date. Scroll down to see a button that says “Pause updates for 7 days.” Click on that to stop your device from updating for a week.
  • The Windows Update page will now tell you that your updates have been paused. If you want, you can keep clicking “Pause updates for 7 more days” to delay updates for additional weeks. (I was able to pause for up to five weeks). You can click on “Resume updates” toward the top of the screen to undo this.
  • If you’d like to pause updates up to a specific date, click on “Advanced options” toward the bottom of the page. Scroll down to “Pause updates.” Here, you can select a date to pause updates until. Note: you can only pause updates for up to 35 days, after which you’ll have to update your device before you can pause the updates again.

Adjust restart times

Windows will usually need to restart in order to finishing installing updates — and since an update can take your computer out of service for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, you may want to adjust the restart times for when it’s most convenient.

  • If an update’s available, you’ll see it at the top of the screen. If you don’t see that an update is available, click “Check for updates” at the top of the Windows Update menu to make sure.
  • If updates are ready, you can click “Restart now” to restart immediately (and get it over with). Assuming you don’t want to do that, click on “Schedule the restart” to finish the install later.
Window Update menu when a restart is needed
You’ll see a “Restart now” button toward the top of the screen, next to “Schedule the restart.”
  • Toggle “Schedule a time” from off to on.
  • Select a time and date. Don’t forget to click the check mark at the bottom of the drop-down options for time in order to save the selected time.
“Schedule the restart” menu
You’ll have to toggle on the switch at the top before choosing a time and date.
  • If you go back to the Windows Update page and click on Advanced options, you can toggle on several update options, including “Show a notification when your PC requires a restart to finish updating” and “Restart this device as soon as possible when a restart is required to install an update.”
“Advanced options” screen
Here, you can choose to switch on notifications for updates and to restart when an update is available.

Windows can, if you choose, track when you use your device in order to schedule update restarts at a convenient time. You can use this feature, called active hours, to adjust what times your device is allowed to restart.

  • In Windows Update, go to “Change active hours.”
  • You can toggle on “Automatically adjust active hours for this device based on activity.”
  • You can set your own active hours by clicking on the “Change” link next to the current active hours.
“Change active hours” menu
You can have Windows set the active hours based on your activity, or you can set them yourself.
  • Adjust the times in the pop-up window and click “Save.”
Active hours pop-up window
Set your own active hours by adjusting the time in this window.

Windows 10 will let you know when updates are ready and ask you to restart in order to install them. But you can temporarily opt out of getting notified and asked to install updates. Here’s how:

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