It is usually not necessary to block updates in Windows Update, Microsoft's integrated updating tool for Windows operating systems. Windows Update notifies the user of new updates by displaying a notification in the system tray, that is, if the update service is up and running.
There are two scenarios where Windows users or admins may want to block updates from being displayed. The first is to block an update's deployment in a small to middle sized business or organization, the second if an update is either not needed, or known to cause problems in a single computer environment.
We for instance installed the Windows 7 Professional SP1 Beta on our test system a while ago, but decided to remove it after a while. Windows however kept nagging at every system startup that an update was available. Even worse, the update was always automatically selected in Windows Update, next to the other security patches and releases that we wanted to install.
That meant that we had to manually find and uncheck the update to prevent its installation in Windows 7. We first thought it would be enough to uncheck the update once in Windows Update to prevent its installation, but it got reselected automatically whenever Windows Update was started anew.
Windows Update does have a mechanism to block specific updates. The answer is revealed after right-clicking an update that should not be installed on the system, and that the user does not want to receive notifications about.
A right-click, and the selection of Hide Update, unchecks the update in the updating software, and changes the color of the update's name to a lighter gray.
The effect can be tested immediately by closing and opening Windows Update again. The frontpage, which lists all available updates for the operating system is no longer listing the blocked update.
Windows Update offers an option to restore hidden updates at anytime. The Restore Hidden Updates link in the left sidebar of the main Windows Update window opens a page listing all updates that haven been blocked on the system.
Selecting an update and clicking the Restore button at the bottom of the screen will add it to the update cycle again, so that the update can be installed and deployed.
This method of hiding updates in Windows Update is obviously only practical for single computers or small computer networks. Admins have other tools at their disposable to control the updates that are installed on the client machines that they manage.
Have another tip regarding Windows Update? Let us know in the comments.
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