The Windows operating system is configured to check for updates automatically. What this means is that the operating system checks for updates regularly to download and install them on the system when they are discovered.
The computer needs to be restarted after the updates have been installed on it, usually because Windows can't update some files while it is running and needs to do so on boot or because the Registry needs to be reloaded.
The dialog box after installing all updates gives you the choice to either Restart Now or Restart Later. Restart Now should be pretty obvious, this will restart Windows immediately while Restart Later displays the same annoying dialog again asking if you want to Restart Now or Restart Later.
This is really annoying if you are currently doing something that cannot be interrupted and after the third or fourth time that dialog box is really putting even the calmest user to a test.
Disabling Automatic Updates should not be an option for most users which is why we have to look at other solutions to disable or modify the restart dialog box after installing updates.
1. Stop the Windows Update Service
Stopping the Windows Update Service will get rid of the dialog box nagging you to restart now or later. Updates will be installed after the next reboot and the Automatic Updates service will be enabled with the next start of Windows XP as well again. Type the following line on the command prompt. You can alternatively open the services configuration by typing services.msc and stopping the Automatic Updates Service.
sc stop wuauserv
Note: If you are running Vista or newer, you need to open an elevated command prompt. You do that by tapping on the Windows key, typing cmd.exe, right-clicking the result, and select run as administrator from the options menu.
2. Modifying Group Policies
Run gpedit.msc from the run box which should open the Group Policies window. Note that it is only part of professional versions of Windows. The user has two options in here. First he could disable the restart for Automatic Updates completely or edit the interval of the nagging Restart dialog. Both settings are found in Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update
No auto-restart for schedule Automatic Updates installations will disable automatic restart and disable the dialog box asking you to restart now or later while Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations lets you edit the interval of the appearance of the dialog box in minutes.
The small software Auto Reboot Remover disables or enables the automatic restart option as well.
Update: Please note that newer versions of Windows display options to postpone the restart by a certain amount of time. The maximum is four hours which may be enough time sometimes, but not enough at others. The two options above are still valid for those new systems.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.