Time to temporarily turn off Windows Automatic Update

We have only one verified rotten patch out so far this month, but if last month is any indication, many more are about to come rolling out the Auto Update chute.

Time to temporarily turn off Windows Automatic Update
Thinkstock/Microsoft

If you run Windows — any version — now would be an excellent time to make sure Automatic Update is turned off. Patch Tuesday arrives tomorrow, and there’s no telling what sort of offal will get thrust onto Windows machines automatically.

Of course, I will be watching closely and will warn you if there’s something that has to be installed, like, right now. If this month is like the vast majority of Windows patching months in the past year or two, you have more to lose from botched patches than there is to gain by immediately installing security patches.

Last week, we had a bad patch for Word 2016 pushed out the Automatic Update chute. Microsoft has since yanked the patch, but everyone with Auto Update turned on last week got it.

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Set a reminder if you need one to look at the state of updating in a week or two. But spare yourself a dip in the unpaid patch beta testing pool.

How to turn off Windows Automatic Update

Last week, I recommended that those of you running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (version 1511) upgrade to Creators Update (version 1703), based entirely on the sordid patching history of the Anniversary Update.

If you’re on Win10 Pro Creators Update, you can use Windows’ built-in tools to hold off on the looming patches — just follow the last three steps in 8 steps to install Windows 10 patches like a pro. Other Windows 10 users aren’t quite so lucky, but the general approach is detailed in Woody's Win10Tip: Block forced Windows updates.

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1, the Automatic Update block is easy:

Click Start > Control Panel > System and Security.

Under Windows Update, click the "Turn automatic updating on or off" link. Click the "Change Settings" link on the left. Verify that you have Important Updates set to "Never check for updates (not recommended)" and click OK.

Take a minute right now and make sure Automatic Update is turned off. Then follow along here, or on your favorite Windows bug reporting site, to see what the beta testers have to say.

I’ve set the MS-DEFCON level to 2 on AskWoody.com – although comments are temporarily disabled.

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