Speaking of updates…

Was that a hiatus? Let’s call it a hiatus. Should that be “an” hiatus? Let’s call it semantics and not care.

Is this a weird way to start a post?

tangled hair glasses

Let’s call it quirky.

It’s been an [indeterminate amount of time] since the release of Windows 10, and still updates are a thing that can’t be controlled. Or can they? (SPOILER: YES.)

If you’re a Windows system/network administrator/engineer kind of person, you should know about Group Policy (if you’re a different sort of person but you work in an office environment and you use Windows there and those other kinds of persons exist in your environment, you may be familiar with the effects of Group Policy – that is, you can’t change system settings, your desktop wallpaper is something that someone else picked, and when you have system problems someone comes along, opens a command prompt window and runs something called “gpupdate” and logs you off before they even start listening to whatever issue description you might have).

Anyway, whatever kind of person you are, you might be interested to know that Group Policy can work for the individual too, in the form of Local Group Policy! You can use it to mess with all sorts of Windows’ peculiarities, but this post is going to focus on just one of them: preventing updates on Windows 10 downloading without your say-so. So, have some steps:

  • One: You want to open the Local Group Policy editor on your system. Or whoever’s system you’re messing with today. Do that by opening the Run dialog (by pressing the Windows and R keys, or), and when the box appears, type in gpedit.msc and hit Enter. Or.
  • gpedit.msc run dialog

  • II: Success at step one is a prerequisite for step two, so, err, congratulations. You did that. Now what you want to do is navigate your way down the folder structure like so: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update.
  • gpedit.msc windows updates

  • 4-=1: Yes! You’re well on your way to a participation award! The particular Windows Update setting you’re looking for, in this case, is Configure Automatic Updates. Double click it. Set it to Enabled, and pick the options you most prefer from the boxes and dropdowns available. My preferences are in a screenshot somewhere on this page. Below this paragraph. Probably.
  • UPDATE170217
    The option in that screenshot, “5 – Allow local admin to choose setting”, I don’t like that option. I’ve stopped using it. It still automatically downloads things, and not even useful things (like virus definitions). So I now use the one that specifies updates should be checked for and downloaded manually. I think it’s number two (toilethumour.jpg). You should check for updates regularly though, because, y’know, virus definitions. There’s probably a cmd method to do that, which you could then schedule, but I haven’t found it for Windows 10 yet.

    windows update policy settings

  • the-last-1: Got your options picked? Great! Click Apply, then OK, and you’re done. Close the editor, or play with more things if you like (but you’re in out-of-scope territory there). Lastly, you-kinda-don’t-have-but-I-would restart your computer. Then open up your Windows settings and go have a look at the new update choices you’ve won back for yourself.
  • windows 10 update settings

So there we are then. It’s not a perfect solution – I have yet to find a way to selectively install updates in a way that isn’t utterly over-complicated – but it works for me. In the interests of not knee-capping the security of your system you should check what updates are available often (for virus definitions and all that), but at least now you decide when. Or use the maintenance window thingy to schedule your updates, rather than stopping them entirely.

Have fun ruining everything with your shiny local policy powers. Feel the satisfaction of the net-admin who forced you to use that garish, tiled company logo as your desktop background and said, smirking, “policy” when you asked why.