A closer look at Active Hours in Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 8, 2016
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

Active Hours is a new update-related feature of the upcoming Anniversary Update for Windows 10 that is already available in the latest Insider Build.

The main idea behind the feature is to make operating system updates less annoying by preventing automatic restarts of the system during active hours.

The Internet is filled with user reports that Windows restarted their system automatically after downloading Windows Updates, and that they lost work in the process or suddenly found themselves with a new version of Windows without them having a say in the matter.

While it is recommended to set Windows Update to notify you about new updates but not install them automatically, so that you have the greatest control over the updating, the default is to download and install updates automatically.

Active Hours

Active Hours don't change that behavior, but they add a mechanic to the Windows 10 operating system that makes sure users are not disturbed by reboots during active hours.

Active Hours appears to be enabled by default.

Configuring Active Hours in Windows 10

Use Windows-I to open the Settings application in Windows 10, and open Update & security when the application opens.

windows 10 change active hours

There you find listed "change active hours" under Update settings. If you don't find the option there, Active Hours are not enabled. If that is the case skip this step and go straight to the Registry and Group Policy sections below.

When you click on the link, Windows displays the current start and end time based on the selected time zone. On the screenshot below, you find them enabled from 8:00 in the morning to 17:00 in the afternoon.

Note: The length is limited to a maximum of eighteen hours in the Windows 10 Creators Update. The limit was set to 10, and then later on to 12 hours, previously.

windows update active hours

Select a different start and end time (the interface may use a 24 or 12 hour format depending on system settings) and click on the save button afterwards.

You find a second option of interest underneath "update settings". The "restart options" link provides you with options to use a custom restart time that allows you to override active hours on the system.

windows 10 restart options

Flip the switch to on first, and set time and day you want the PC to restart to install updates on the device.

Active Hours and Group Policy

The Group Policy is only available if you run a Pro, Educational or Enterprise version of Windows 10. It is not available as part of the Home version of the operating system.

If you run the Home version, skip this part and jump straight to the Registry part below.

Tap on the Windows-key, type gpedit.msc and hit enter to load the Group Policy Editor. Use the tree hierarchy on the left to navigate to the following section:  Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Updates.

active hours group policy

There you find listed the new "Turn off auto-restart for updates during active hours" policy. Double-click on the policy to configure it.

enable active hours group policy

Set it to enabled, and change the start and end time for the feature. Please note that you get a 12-hour system displayed in the Group Policy currently regardless of how time is displayed on the system itself.

The policy has no effect if either of the following policies are enabled:

  1. No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic update installations.
  2. Always automatically restart at scheduled time.

Active Hours and the the Registry

You find options to configure the feature in the Windows Registry. This is the best option for Home users to change it, e.g. disable or enable the feature.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type regedit.exe, and hit enter.
  2. Confirm the UAC prompt.
  3. Navigate to the following key using the tree hierarchy on the left: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX\Settings

registry active hours

The following options are provided here:

  • ActiveHoursEnd: defines the end time of the feature.
  • ActiveHoursStart: defines the start time of the feature.
  • IsActiveHoursEnabled: if set to 1, the feature is enabled. If set to 0, it is disabled.

If you want to change the starting or end hour of the feature, double-click on one of the entries. Switch to a decimal base on the prompt that opens, and enter the starting hour using the 24 hour clock system.

Please note that you cannot add minutes in the Registry only full hours.

A closer look at Active Hours in Windows 10
Article Name
A closer look at Active Hours in Windows 10
Find out how to enable and configure Active Hours in Windows 10 using the Settings application, the Group Policy Editor, or the Windows Registry.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):


  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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