How to disable automatic Windows restart dialog box after Windows Update

You know the scenario:

Windows XP updates automatically, and then a small box appears, which gives you two choices:

  1. Restart the computer! (now)
  2. Restart the computer! (later)

The problem is, even if you choose the ‘later’ option, the same annoying dialog box will pop-up after 10 minutes or so and you’ll have to dismiss it again, then again, then again… Finally, it will inform you, that the computer will be automatically restarted in 5 minutes, no matter what you do currently — the only choice you have at this moment is to postpone the restart a little, but the box will come again and again… And if you’re in the middle of something, and cannot restart right now, then what?

Luckily, there’s a solution, which I’ve found by accident, while browsing the Internet with no specific goal (you may read about this solution in a lot of places, actually). In short, your options are the following:

Option One

Stop the Automatic Update Service for the moment.

To do so, open the ‘run’ dialog box (shortcut: Windows key + R), type ‘cmd’ (without the quotes, of course) in it and hit ENTER. The command line will open.

Then use the following command to stop the service:

net stop wuauserv

Alternatively, you may also use:

net stop "automatic updates"

Or:

sc stop wuauserv

All of these do one and same thing: they stop the Automatic Update Service and with it, the annoying box, which prompts continuously you to restart the computer.

Then you may restart the computer at whatever time you like:-)

Note: The Automatic Update Service will be automatically started at the next Windows reboot, so don’t worry, you won’t disable the service itself!

Now, to the next option:

Option Two

You may disable this dialog box, prompting you to restart the computer after the Windows updates are applied, for good:)

How?

Again, open the ‘run’ dialog box, and type in it ‘gpedit.msc’, then hit ENTER. This will open the Group Policy editor.

Locate in it:

Local Computer Policy → Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Windows Update

There are two options there which will affect achieve the effect you’re after.

The first one is: No auto-restart for schedule Automatic Updates installations

Right-click it, select ‘Properties’, and configure it.

The second one is: Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations

Right-click it, and set the time interval to something very long, like 720 minutes (12 hours).

Note: The maximum number of minutes you can set up there is 1440 minutes, or 24 hours, but this should be enough.

That’s it. No more annoying boxes popping up everywhere and urging you to restart NOW:)

What next?

Finally, let me quote Tim Rains on what might be the issues when disabling this auto-restart dialog box:

IMPORTANT: If you choose to configure your system not to reboot when a security update which requires a reboot is installed, you are taking a huge risk. The fixed code is not actually loaded (in memory) by the system until after the reboot. i.e. the old, vulnerable code is still running until a reboot is completed. If you do not reboot the system for whatever reason (you didn’t realize a security update was automatically installed, you want to wait for a regular maintenance window, you forget, you were on vacation, etc.) your system will still be vulnerable. You also risk system stability by delaying a required reboot. When some files that are in use are replaced but not loaded, and other files that are not in use are replaced, you can get into a mixed binary situation. Depending on the binary, there may be conflicts that cause system instability.

Also, here should be noted that if you have the Automatic Windows Update service disabled by default (System Properties → Automatic Updates → Turn Off Automatic Updates) and do your updates manually (via Microsoft Update or Windows Update), then this dialog box won’t bug at all you after updates are installed, because you have decided to install them manually.

Other interesting resource for you might be this one:

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000294.html

There are a lot of insightful comments below the main article — you may find in them, for example, what to do if you’re running a copy of Windows XP Home Edition, which doesn’t have a Group Policy Editor; what are the differences between the No auto-restart for schedule Automatic Updates installations and Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations and how to set them up in the best possible way, etc.

I’ve created this article more as a note to myself, so I can reference to it later, when needed:)

7 comments |



Comments to “How to disable automatic Windows restart dialog box after Windows Update”:

  1. Poppy Says:
    1

    Thanks Michel – this is the most useful of the references/ suggestions for this horrible Microsoft nanny dialog.

  2. Michel Says:
    2

    @Poppy:

    I’m glad my notes helped:) As I mentioned, I just gathered some info from other sources and systematized it a little bit:)

  3. Jonathan Says:
    3

    Yes – this is a great tip! Those nagging dialogue boxes after updates are an incredible distraction when you are trying to work. I get them from Adobe as well, but at least you can dismiss them for a time period.

  4. Michel Says:
    4

    @Jonathan:

    But the Adobe update boxes are better, because after updating the Adobe software, you have the option to restart or not to restart the computer!

    But the Windows ones, you can’t dismiss then… that’s why I’m very happy I’ve found these tips and arranged them in this article, for my convenience… and for others, as well:)

  5. Robert Says:
    5

    I love you. Thank you. I have never before been able to find out how to modify or disable this.

  6. Michel Says:
    6

    @Robert:

    Cheers :-)

  7. Antony Says:
    7

    Thanks to you, Michel! I find your article very usefull! At last i win stupid Microsoft system=)))

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