This content is part of the Essential Guide: How to solve Windows 10 updates problems

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How can IT turn off Windows 10 automatic updates?

In some cases, IT pros should disable Windows 10 updates to gain control over the process. They can use methods such as editing group policies and setting a metered connection.

Microsoft recommends running updates as soon as it releases them for Windows 10, but in the enterprise, it may make more sense for IT to turn off Windows 10 updates because they can cause issues such as incompatibility with legacy applications.

Microsoft's logic behind Windows 10 automatic updates is sound. If an instance of Windows 10 does not update regularly, it can eventually become unstable, unpredictable and vulnerable to an ever-growing list of security threats. Because of this, Microsoft set automatic updates as the default update schedule in Windows 10.

Even so, some organizations have good reason to turn off Windows 10 updates. For example, a desktop might run legacy software that demands a static environment. If that's the case, as an IT professional, you can try one of several options to prevent Windows 10 automatic updates from running on the OS.

Turn off Windows Update or set a metered connection

One of the most common strategies is to disable the Windows Update service using the service utility built into Windows 10. This prevents Windows 10 from receiving any updates, including critical security patches.

One of the most common strategies is to disable the Windows Update Service using the service utility built into Windows 10.

In some cases, you might find that the service keeps re-enabling itself. One possible reason may be that Windows 10 Update Assistant is running on the desktop. To prevent this, you can either disable the assistant in Task Scheduler or uninstall it entirely.

Another go-to strategy to turn off Windows 10 updates is to set network connections to metered. This setting is designed for a network with a data limit. Metered connections are most common with mobile devices, but they also work for other connection types.

Windows 10 desktops set to a metered connection only install essential updates and notify you when other updates are available. If you switch back to a non-metered connection, Windows 10 automatic updates resume immediately.

Other ways to turn off Windows 10 updates

If you work with the Windows Pro, Enterprise or Education edition, you can use the gpedit.msc utility to edit the system's local group policies to prevent Windows 10 automatic updates.

In the Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update folder, you can reconfigure the Configure Automatic Updates policy. If you enable the policy and select the Notify for Download and Auto Install option, you'll be notified when updates are available, but you will still have control over the system.

You can achieve the same results by adding two keys to the system's registry in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Policies > Microsoft > Windows. This is a much riskier strategy, however. One wrong change to the registry can cause irreversible damage to the OS, so it's important to perform a complete system backup before editing the registry. After backing up the system, you can add the keys manually using the regedit utility or a .reg file that adds the keys itself.

A less invasive way to turn off Windows 10 updates is to change the hardware device settings to prevent device drivers from updating automatically. You can change the settings through the Hardware tab in the System Properties dialog box, which you can access in Control Panel -- System and Security > System > Advanced System Settings. In the dialog box, click the Device Installation settings button and select No to turn off Windows 10 automatic updates.

Be sure to do your homework before making any changes. You should also keep in mind that Microsoft added several features to Windows 10 that allow you to postpone and delay Windows 10 automatic updates. You should consider these options carefully before taking more drastic measures.

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