XP Automatic Update Nagging

Windows XP's automatic update facility is clearly a good thing. Except when an update is installed that requires a reboot and you're working on the computer at the time. Then you get this lovely dialog:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2005/05/xp-automatic-update-nagging.html

Great. Right now I have one like this jumping up from time to time. Stupid thing indeed.

As a network admin, I’m happy that my users CAN’T turn it off. They would never reboot their PC’s when I needed it. I think there’s a GPO that allows you set the reminder frequency though.

Surely, SURELY this reboot could be scheduled at a more convenient time? Couldn’t it happen late at night? Or, couldn’t the dialog wait for a period of significant inactivity and then trigger the reboot?

I just refuse to believe that popping up a dialog every 10 minutes-- interrupting whatever I am doing on the computer at that time-- is a rational way to deal with a required reboot.

Unbelievably, I was going to post about this exact same annoying thing today.

Anyway the way to disable it is to stop the “Automatic Updates” service. Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Services… After the service is stopped, the nag message stops, too. Then you can reboot when you have time. The service will restart when you reboot.

Exactly five seconds after I read you message I saw this message for the first time, only it didn’t give me the Restart Later, it gave me 5 minutes and then it forcibly restarted my computer.

I’ve learned to live with this dialog box, however annoying it might be. I just push it to one side of the screen so that it’s practically invisible. It seems so much milder than the restart dialog box that one used to get with IE5 (I haven’t installed IE ever since so I am not sure if you still get the same) - once the browser was installed, it would simply say that the computer was being restarted, and ‘boom’ it would do so. At least there is a choice ‘restart later’ in this dialog box.

Me too: http://jameskew.blogspot.com/2005/03/i-told-you-already.html

“Restart later” means “I’ll restart when I feel like it”, not “ask me again in 10 minutes”.

As Ole Eichhorn points out you can kill the dialog by stopping the service. I personally use the command line “sc stop wuauserv” rather than the gui, but its the same thing.

Actually, what you should do is select the option “download updates for me, but let me select when to run them” in the settings for the automatic updates.
As soon as updates are available, you will see a yellow icon in the “tray” and as long as you don’t click on it, nothing will happen.
When you’re ready, just click on it :slight_smile: More often than not, the restart won’t even be necessary.

Brian –

They would never reboot their PC’s when
I needed it

Come on, get real! Within a corporate LAN (which I assume you are talking about) you should have other security measures in place such that an IMMEDIATE reboot of an XP box is not a necessity.

My 2 cts.



Sadly, disabling that reminder as per dave’s tip above results in nothing but the reminder popping up as regularly as it did before. One might expect this from the description of the setting:

“If the status is set to Disabled or Not Configured, the default interval is 10 minutes.”

Therefore you can only enable the setting with a long wait time to get rid of the pop up, or disable the service as above, or just not install the updates until you’re good and ready, which is likely to be when you shut down, in my experience.

Are you sure? I remember reading that the service had to be restarted for this setting to take effect.

At any rate, I’m happy with the “disable service” method for now; the service will just come back after the next reboot anyway, since it’s set to start automatically.

Here is the proper solution that disables the annoying dialog without disabling the automatic update services or anything. It’s a group policy setting. Thanks to Spoom - http://www.xiven.com/weblog/2004/05/01/WeHaveWaysOfMakingYouRestartYourComputer

Start - Run - gpedit.msc - Local Computer Policy - Computer Configuration - Administrative Templates - Windows Components - Windows Update - Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations.

You can disable the reminder entirely, or adjust the frequency of the pop up.

Maybe, Microsoft could add a snooze option. Where we would enter the number of minutes for the next reminder. Maybe a max value of 24 hours.

You also need to enable Configure Automatic Updates for most of this stuff to work.

The problem with my wife’s notebook is that even after restarting multiple times, the pop-up still comes up (a bug). BTW, I didn’t find anything about it on MS Premier.

I found I didn’t have the “Windows Update” folder that dave referred to in Spoom’s solution. ARGHH! Anyhow, I’ve taken Ian’s solution and a created a shortcut around it. Right click on the desktop, select New…Shortcut, complete the wizard, and you’ll have a desktop restart killer (I’m still in the experimental phase, so I don’t know if the underlying idea works. I will greatly appreciate it if it does).

Thanks a LOT Dave. It worked at 100%.