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How can you pause Windows Update with Group Policy?

Mistimed updates in Windows 10 can drive users crazy and cost organizations in terms of productivity. There are steps you can take to pause these updates, however.

As a Windows 10 administrator, there are a number of reasons you may want to temporarily pause Windows Update.

You can use Group Policy to gain control over the update process and pause it, but you cannot bring an abrupt halt to all updates altogether.

If you must put updates on hold for a while though, there are a few different Group Policy options for doing so.

How to pause Windows Update with Group Policy

One way you can pause Windows Update is to open the Group Policy console and navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update > Windows Update for Business. This portion of the Group Policy Editor contains a setting called Select when Preview Builds and Feature Updates are received.

This setting can pause Windows Update in three ways. First, you can control which updates Windows 10 installs based on the readiness level of users' devices. As the setting's name implies, you can keep preview builds off users' endpoints if the devices are not ready for the update.

You can also perform an automatic deferral of both preview builds and feature updates. All you have to do is specify the number of days for which you wish to defer these updates. This setting only allows you to pause updates for up to 14 days. Once 14 days pass, Windows will install the updates in the usual manner.

You can pause all preview builds and feature updates starting on a specific date of your choosing.

In addition, you can pause all preview builds and feature updates starting on a specific date of your choosing. You can pause Windows Update for a period of up to 35 days. If you need to pause preview builds or feature updates for a longer period of time, you can periodically adjust the start date.

If you must halt the update process indefinitely, which you would only do in an extreme situation, Windows 10 does not have a function to do so, but it is possible. You can temporarily modify the Group Policy to point Windows Update to a nonexistent update server. That will effectively break the update process until you direct it to an actual update server.

This was last published in November 2018

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What situation would require you stop Windows 10 updates altogether?
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