Stop Windows Update Force Restarting

The recommended and default setting for Windows 7 is to automatically download and install important system updates. This makes sense from a security point of view. Usually after these updates are installed, the user is prompted to restart the computer, and is given an option to postpone the restart anywhere between 10 minutes and 4 hours.

You can keep clicking postpone until you're ready to restart, which works most of the time. Unless you're not at your computer when the timer reaches zero, in which case Windows will take over and force-kill all your applications and restart without your blessing. This can also happen if you happen to miss the restart notification, so after 10 minutes you may be halfway through typing a word in a long email that you've been wring for the last half-hour, when Windows suddenly restarts without warning.

This happened to me earlier this morning. I was copying some large files from an external HDD when Windows suddenly killed everything and rebooted. For some reason the postpone dialog never showed up. So after the unexpected restart, I had to re-transfer the 40GB+ that I was copying, which took an extra 40 minutes. Could have been much worse I suppose, but still not a pleasant experience.

Why Microsoft allows this I have no idea. Searching the internet, the most common recommended solution is to turn off automatic updates. This obviously is not the best idea as it leaves you vulnerable.

There's a better way to disable this strange behaviour. If running Windows 7 Pro or Enterprise, click the Start button, type in gpedit.msc and run it as an administrator. Then navigate to Administrative Templates --> Windows Components --> Windows Update. Double-click the setting "No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates" and set it to Enabled.

If you're on Windows Home or Starter or some other lower version, you'll need to do a registry edit instead. Simply open up a Notepad, copy-paste the text below inside, and save it as say update_disable.reg on your desktop. Then just double-click the file, and click Yes on whatever warning dialogs you get.


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

This stops Windows from taking over. The dialog prompt above still shows up, but you can keep ignoring it without clicking anything forever and Windows won't force-kill things when the timer runs out.


  1. Nice one! I was nerved already about this behaviour. Thanks!

  2. thanks a lot, it drove me crazy when windows rebooted while I was playing

  3. how to kill the dialog if it's already up?
    killing the process, restarts the system immediately. :-(


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