Updating Windows used to be really straightforward and you could choose whether to check for updates, whether to download them and whether to install them or just tell you that they are ready for installing.
Then along came Windows 10 and it changed everything. And not for the better.
There is little you can do about updates and they are hard to avoid. Windows 10 has been designed to be constantly updated whether you like it or agree to it or not.
It is a bit heavy handed of Microsoft, but possibly the reason why it is happening is that people stick with old operating systems too long when they should be upgrading.
The operating system usage statistics for December 2015 show a growth in usage of Windows XP! That it is a 15-year-old operating system! It must drive Microsoft nuts that people persist in using it. It is so out of date, insecure and incompatible with modern hardware and software, yet some people are still running it.
Microsoft solution is to try to get everyone on Windows 10 where they can push updates to them whether they like it or not. Keeping everyone on the same release solves a lot of support problems for the company.
I digress and I really want to cover the options for Windows Update and to give people back as much control as possible. You will never have the same control as with WIndows 7, but there are things you can do to make updates less painful.
Check for updates
Press Windows+I and click Update & security. Select Windows Update on the left if it is not selected already and then click Check for updates.
Windows checks for updates automatically, but if you do it manually when it is convenient to update you might avoid having to update when you are busy.
Set active hours
Some Windows updates require the computer to be restarted and this can be a problem if you are busy and in the middle of doing something important.
Avoid this by clicking Change active hours.
Windows updates that require a restart will not occur during these hours. You could set the end time to the time you finish work or go to bed, so updates will then be installed at night.
Set a restart time
If a big update downloads and requires a restart, you don’t have to do it right now. Click Restart options and click the switch to turn it on. Set a time and a day when it will be convenient to install the update.
Set advanced options
Click Advanced options. Tick the option, Use my sign in info... If the computer restarts, it will stop at the login screen and the update may not have finished. You might return to your computer to get some work done and have to wait 15 minutes while it finishes the update.
Avoid the problem by letting it use your sign in info to finish setting up.
Many updates are small, but every so often there is a huge update that is several gigabytes in size. It will download faster if you get updates from multiple sources.
Click Choose how updates are delivered. Turn on the feature and at least set it to PCs on my local network. If you have two PCs then one could download the update and then share it with the other to avoid downloading it again.
The second option is even better and it includes PCs on the internet. Some people don’t like this, but there are few disadvantages. One is that your PC could be used to provide an update for someone else, so you might end up sending them a gigabyte or more of files.
You would not want to use this option if your internet connection has limited data.
Put off updates
I am running the beta of Windows 10 Pro, which is slightly ahead of the current release version and I have a extra option in the Advanced options section - Defer feature updates.
Tick the box and you can put off big updates until some later date. Security updates are downloaded and installed as normal, but the Windows 10 version will stay the same. Updates are put off for several months.
This is important when PCs are used in critical environments where failure would be a disaster. There is an old saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” If Windows is running fine and you don’t want to change it, this option puts off the changes for months, but not forever.
Set metered connections
A Windows laptop could potentially be used at a wi-fi hotspot that charges for access and bandwidth or internet access could be through your phone or a phone SIM.
To avoid excessive data charges for downloading large Windows updates, it is possible to put them off.
Press Windows+I to open Settings and click Network & Internet. Select WiFi on the left and then click Manage known networks.
Click each network and then click the Properties button.
Turn on the switch under Metered connection and Windows will not download updates on that wi-fi connection. Repeat this for all the other wi-fi networks. None of them will then download and install updates.
You will never be able to prevent Windows 10 updates from installing forever, but with these settings you can put them off for a long time or until a time of your own choosing rather than Microsoft’s.