Updates can be annoying. They always seem to pop up at the most inopportune times. Sometimes, they seem to break important features or cause compatibility issues with hardware and software.
Below, we will discuss different methods of disabling automatic updates depending on your operating system.
Even amongst similar operating systems, there can be significant differences in how you disable them, if you can disable them at all.
How to Stop a Laptop From Updating
Windows 10 and 11 Do Not Allow You To Turn Off Automatic Updates
Modern operating systems are constantly being revised and updated, introducing features.
Some users take exception to this, especially when they get intrusive popups that force the update down their throats.
Due to the iterative nature of Windows 10 and 11, Microsoft has removed the option to do this in the update settings altogether. You can disable updates via the registry, but this is not recommended because it can cause system instability.
Disabling automatic updates might seem like a good idea, but doing so makes your laptop vulnerable to malware. Hackers can also exploit security weaknesses.
You can pause them or use other methods to disable them, but you should only do so if you know the risks and take necessary precautions like backing up your computer.
Pause Updates Is Possible In Windows 10 and 11
Instead of disabling automatic updates, you can instead pause them for up to 5 weeks.
While it might not be the ideal solution if you want to stop your laptop from automatically updating altogether, you can install the necessary ones at a more convenient time.
To pause updates in Windows 10 and 11, do the following:
- Select Start.
- Navigate to Settings. You can do this by typing settings into the search bar.
- Select Windows Update.
- Select Pause Updates from within the Windows Update menu.
- From the drop-down menu, you can pause them for up to 5 weeks.
Remember that you will have to update your laptop before pausing updates again.
Set Active Hours To Prevent Updating at Inconvenient Times
If you are worried about updates interrupting you during your working hours, you can set active hours for them through the Windows Update interface.
This will prevent annoying popups and preclude any unnecessary interruptions.
Set your active hours for updates as follows:
- Select Start.
- Open Settings.
- Navigate to Windows Update.
- Select Advanced Options.
- Select Active Hours.
- Click on the drop-down menu next to Adjust Active Hours and change it to Manual.
- Enter the times you wish for your Active Hours to start and end.
You can set your active hours to a maximum of 18 hours. This is quite effective at preventing your laptop from updating automatically.
For example, if you don’t normally use your laptop after midnight, you can set it so that your active hours are between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m. – this way, it will rarely force you to update.
While you are in this menu, please make sure the slider switch next to Get me up to date is in the off position.
If it is on, your laptop will update itself as soon as it has downloaded any new updates, even during active hours.
Worried About Data? Use Delivery Optimization
If your reason for wanting to prevent automatic updates is the amount of data it eats up, you can use a feature called delivery optimization.
This downloads them from computers on the same network if available, meaning if someone else is up to date, your computer will download the updates from them rather than eating up chunks of your fixed data plan.
To activate Delivery Optimization on Windows 10 and 11, do the following:
- Select Start.
- Open Settings.
- Open Windows Update.
- Select Advanced Options.
- Under Additional Options, select Delivery Optimization.
- Next, to Allow downloads from other PCs, click on the slider switch to activate Delivery Optimization.
- Click on the arrow next to the slider switch.
- Make sure Devices on my local network is selected.
In the Delivery Optimization menu, another Advanced Options menu allows you to allocate a maximum bandwidth for the delivery optimization feature.
Disable Updates Entirely on Windows 10 and 11
You can disable updates using a feature called Group Policy if you are running a Pro version of Windows or access the registry to disable it from there if you have Windows Home.
Warning: Altering the registry can have disastrous consequences, so make sure you back up your PC before you make any changes.
Using Group Policy To Disable Updates
This option is only available to those running Pro versions of Windows.
The Group Policy feature is intended for power users who need to keep groups of computers at the same version, but if you want to disable automatic updates on your laptop, you can use it for that, too.
Disable updates using Group Policy as follows:
- Open Start.
- Type gpedit into the search bar.
- Select the first option.
- In the left pane of the window that opens, expand Computer Configuration by clicking the arrow to the left of the text.
- Expand Administrative Templates.
- Expand Windows Components.
- Expand Windows Update.
- Click on the Manage end user experience folder.
- In the right pane, open Configure Automatic Updates.
- On the top left, select Disabled.
- Click on the Apply button, then press OK to close the dialog box.
If you ever decide to update your laptop, you can still do so from the Windows Update menu in settings.
To re-enable automatic updates, simply follow the above process and select Not Configured instead of Disabled.
Disabling Automatic Updates via the Registry
Altering the registry can wreak havoc on your system if you are not careful, so be careful not to change anything unnecessarily. Make sure you have backed your system up, too.
Follow these steps to disable automatic updates via the registry:
- Open Start.
- Type regedit in the search bar.
- Open the Registry Editor.
- In the left pane, open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
- Find SOFTWARE in the list of folders and open it.
- Expand Policies.
- Expand Microsoft.
- Find Windows in the list of folders and right-click on it.
- Select New and then Key in the contextual menu.
- When prompted to enter a name, enter WindowsUpdate.
- Right-click on the key you just created and repeat step 9.
- Enter AU as the name for this key.
- Right-click on AU and select New, then DWORD (32-bit) Value.
- Name this one NoAutoUpdate.
- Double-click NoAutoUpdate in the right-hand pane.
- Under Value data, change the value from 0 to 1.
- Click OK.
- Restart your computer.
This seems like a lot of work, but it doesn’t take long to do. Thankfully, this option is even available to those running Home versions of Windows, and you can still check for updates at your leisure via the Windows Update menu.
Do Not Use Third-Party Programs To Disable Windows Updates
We cannot blame you if you have gotten cold feet about going into your registry.
However, if you have been tempted to try another piece of software to do this, tread very carefully.
You will often come across suggestions on forums from users telling you to try this or that program to achieve a goal, but they may have ulterior motives.
Malware is often disguised as tools designed to help you achieve things like disabling pesky automatic updates.
The program might even appear to work as intended, but it can do all kinds of damage if you give it access to your system and registry.
It may not happen immediately, but the malware will give you a headache eventually.
It can be designed to harvest data, possibly even your keystrokes, giving hackers access to the passwords you type in.
Another type of malware is known as ransomware. This insidious program often targets businesses, but you can also infect your home machines if you are not careful.
The goal of ransomware is to access your system with sufficient privileges; it can encrypt your files.
You might get an email or popup at this point telling you to pay to have your files returned to their original state, often with a threat of releasing your sensitive data to the wild.
This type of attack can be a massive headache for a business if the ransomware gets access to its network. Multiple machines can be affected, affecting productivity.
It also risks the business’s sensitive company information and trade secrets being made publicly available.
Disabling Updates on Mac
If you have an Apple laptop, you have a little more control than those with Windows-based systems.
You don’t have to do anything complicated like editing registry files.
To disable automatic updates on Mac, do the following:
- Open Settings – you can do this via the dock or click on the Apple icon while on your desktop and selecting System Settings.
- Navigate to General in the System Settings menu. You can use the search function to find it.
- Select Software Update.
- Next to Automatic Update, click the information icon.
- Turn off everything under the dialog box that opens up by clicking on the slider switches.
When ready to update, you can navigate to the same menu and install them at your leisure.
There is comparatively less risk involved in disabling automatic updates on Mac OS compared to Windows, but updating your laptop periodically is still a good idea.
If you still want to be notified about them, you can leave the slider switch next to Check for updates on when you reach step 5.
With Mac, you have some flexibility to prevent automatic downloads for both your system and the apps you’ve downloaded off the App Store.
How to Stop Updates on Chromebook Laptops
Google cranks out updates for ChromeOS every few weeks, and for some users, it might seem like a pain. If you want to disable them, we have bad news.
You cannot disable automatic updates on ChromeOS. They are automatically downloaded in the background, and there is no way to prevent this unless you have an administrator account for a proprietary Google Workspace.
The only other way to stop them on your Chromebook is to either work offline so they aren’t downloaded or never restart your laptop.
Neither of these options is exactly feasible. Getting an Admin profile for ChromeOS will cost you since you will have to pay for Chrome Enterprise.
Even if you do have an Admin profile, Google does not recommend blocking updates unless you need to resolve issues associated with a new release across your organization.
Keeping Your Laptop Updated Prevents Security, Stability Risks and Outdated Drivers
If you have had problems with an update before, it is understandable that you might be wary about updating again.
You might find that a new update fixes something that was broken before, but ultimately, the most important thing about updates is keeping your laptop secure.
Consider setting a weekly reminder at a convenient time to update your laptop. This is much safer than going into your registry to prevent automatic updates.
This will prevent you from installing multiple updates all at once if you decide to update after disabling the automatic updates, restarting your device multiple times, and possibly even taking hours to do all at once.
Updates might seem like a real pain sometimes, but they are necessary to keep your system safe and secure from malware and other security risks.
You can pause updates for weeks at a time, but it is good practice to periodically install them to ensure your laptop keeps performing at its best.
If you are set on preventing automatic updates, you can do so via the registry or Group Policy Editor on Windows machines.
Ensure you know the risks and have your machine backed up if things go wrong.