How to prevent your Windows XP from restarting after automatic update

I came to work today, only to see that my PC was restarted, when I left it running with some files open (thankfully saved). I learned from little nice green shield in my tray that it downloaded some updates and needed to restart so… it did.

Automatic update is a great feature, as long as it works as I expect it to, and I expect it to never restart my PC without my explicit permission! I found it kind of odd, that my PC at work restarted automatically, while my home PC never does it.

I did some digging and here’s what I found out:

Your PC will restart if in Automatic Update configuration you have selected “Automatically download recommended updates for my computer and install them on a schedule.”, that happens to be default value. That was the reason why my work PC restarted, and my home PC never does it – at home I have changed this option so that it notifies me when updates are available, and then I explicitly permit it to download then, and then I explicitly permit it do install them. And then if it needs to restart it politely asks me for my permission.

So one solution is to change this option (start –> Control Panel –> Automatic Updates).

If you can’t or don’t want to change default behavior you still can have your PC updated automatically and not restarting. To do this however you need to do a little bit of registry tuning.

Under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU create DWORD registry value NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers and set its value to 1 to disable automatic reboot and 0 to enable it.alert

You also can disable nagging screen that appears after an update requiring system to reboot has been installed, that reappears every 20 minutes or so when you select ‘Restart later’. To do this, you need to create another DWORD value (under the same registry key) RebootRelaunchTimeoutEnabled and set its value to 0 to disable it.