When you first turned on your new computer, or were finishing your Windows 7 install, you told Windows Update how you wanted it to act - a little more automatic or a little more manual.
If your original decision isn't working out, you can adjust how Windows 7 receives updates by making changes to Windows Update's settings:
Time Required: Making any change to Windows Update in Windows 7 should only take a few minutes at most.
- Click on the Start button, followed by Control Panel.
- Click on the System and Security link.
Note: If you're viewing Control Panel by Category, you'll see this link. If you use the Large icons or Small icons view, just choose Windows Update and then skip to Step 4 below.
- In the System and Security window, click on Windows Update which is one of the bigger links and located about mid-way down the list.
- With Windows Update now open, click the Change settings link on the left.
This will open a window with the heading Choose how Windows can install updates.
- The settings on this page give you a fair amount of control regarding how Windows 7 will receive and install updates from Microsoft. However, most users either want updating to occur automatically in all cases, or want to disable automatic updating completely:
Check, Download, & Install
To fully enable automatic updates, choose Install updates automatically (recommended) from the drop-down box under Important updates. Select Every day and then a time that your computer is typically on but not in use. You should also check every other box on the page.
This option ensures that important security patches for Windows 7 are installed as soon as they're released on Patch Tuesday.
Don't Check At All
To completely disable automatic updates choose Never check for updates (not recommended) from the drop-down box under Important updates. Not only will updates not download or install, you won't even be notified when new ones are available. Leaving the other checkboxes on the page checked is fine and has no bearing on automatic updating.
Note: See Tip #1 & #2 below for two more, arguably better, ways to configure Windows Update in Windows 7.
- Once you've made your changes, click the OK button.
- Check & Download (But Don't Install)
Choose Download updates but let me choose whether to install them to do just that. Windows Update will check for updates, and download any available, but none will be installed until you give explicit permission to do so. You can do that from Windows Update or during the next shutdown process.
This is a great option to choose if you want a little more control over what updates are installed.
- Check (But Don't Download or Install)
Choose Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them to prevent Windows Update from both downloading and installing updates automatically. Windows Update will still check for available updates but it won't do anything about them.
This is a good option if, for the most part, you're not planning on installing most updates. You're still kept informed of new security and other patches but you retain complete control over downloads and installs.
- Not a Windows 7 user? See How Do I Change Windows Update Settings? for links to steps specific for your operating system.