How To Stop Windows From Automatically Restarting To Install Updates [Quicktip]

We’ve all been there before: you went away, leaving your PC on and it restarted automatically without your consent. Usually this is caused by automatic installation of Windows updates. When this happens, you might lose all your open windows, browser tabs and anything else essential to your work.

Windows Update Restart Prompt

Of course, an easy way to stop this from happening would be to stop Windows from automatically downloading and installing updates. But that leaves us open to the possibility of missing critical security updates.

If you’ve been in this situation before, but want to have the best of both worlds, here’s a way you can keep Windows updating automatically but stop it from restarting your PC every time it needs to install an update.

Note: This workaround doesn’t disable the restart prompt Windows shows after it’s downloaded updates, but it does stop Windows from automatically restarting if you don’t respond to the prompt within 15 minutes.

Stop Windows From Automatically Restarting

This is going to require some registry editing, so the first thing to do is open Windows’ built-in registry editor, Regedit. To do this, open the Run prompt by pressing Win + R, type regedit into the text box and then press enter or click OK.

Launching Regedit

This will open Regedit. Before we go any further, it’s important that you make a backup of your registry, since editing the registry is risky and can easily go wrong. Just go to File > Export and save the exported registry file anywhere you please.

Exporting Registry

Now, navigate through the registry to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows. Once you’re here, right-click on Windows and add a new registry key by going to New > Key. Name the new key WindowsUpdate.

Once the WindowsUpdate key has been created, right-click on it and add another new key named AU. The path should now be HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU.

Adding WindowsUpdate And AU Keys

Now all that’s left to do is to add two DWORDs to this key. Do this by right-clicking on the AU key and going to New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. The two new DWORDs you need to add are:

  • AlwaysAutoRebootAtScheduledTime
  • NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers

Adding DWORDs

You’ll have to set the value of the NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers to 1. To do this, just double-click on the DWORD in the right panel then change the Value data in the window that appears from 0 to 1.

Changing DWORD Value

And there you have it: Windows should no longer automatically restart to install recently downloaded updates.