Microsoft

Removing the Windows Update utility

There's nothing more frustrating for network administrators or help desk personnel than users making changes to their machines with Windows Update. As Paul Suiter demonstrates, you can relieve many problems by removing access to this utility.


Network administrators and help desk personnel accepted the introduction of Windows 98 with eagerness and foreboding. While Windows 98 adds many new features and utilities that help with the troubleshooting process, it also provides access to many new areas that users could not previously access very easily. Although this development is good for home users, it can lead to quite a nightmare for support personnel. There’s nothing more frustrating for help desk soldiers than users making changes and updates to their machines on their own. These users don’t realize that the proprietary software that’s running on their machines won’t execute properly if something changes in one of the .ini files that the software shares with other Windows programs. Helping out the help desk team isn’t a bad thing—but only when users understand the ramifications of their actions and aren’t just making random changes.

This problematic situation is further exacerbated by the new utility in Windows 98 called Windows Update. With a click of the mouse, users can get access to various updates that are loaded automatically, but in the worst of cases, the computer will be put out of commission.

The update problem can be relieved somewhat by the removal of access to the Windows Update utility. This utility is located in three areas, but the most noticeable area is the Start menu. The other two areas where users can access the utility are the Settings folder under the Start menu and the Update Device Driver Wizard under Device Manager.

To remove the Windows Update from the Start menu, simply right-click the utility and select delete. This file is just a shortcut, so you can replace it if necessary. Removing the other occurrences is not so easy. It requires a change in the registry.

Obviously, whenever you’re going to make any changes within the registry, it’s always a good idea to back up the registry before you begin. If you’ve just turned your system on for the first time that day, the registry has already been backed up automatically. If you’re unsure of the last backup and you want to get a recent copy of the registry, go to the Run command under the Start menu and type ScanRegw/Backup. This action will make a backup of the registry, and that copy will replace the oldest backup file in the Sysbckup folder under the Windows directory.

To remove the Windows Update utility shortcut from the Settings folder under the Start menu, you’ll need to access the registry. In the Run command box under the Start menu, type Regedit. When the registry opens, follow this path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer.

Once you are in the Explorer folder, you’ll need to add a DWORD value. Click on the edit menu at the top of the window, highlight New, and choose DWORD value at the bottom. Now, type the following into the highlighted area:
NoWindowsUpdate

Press [Enter] and double-click the DWORD value. Set the data value to 1. You can leave the base setting at Hex for the numerical value. Now, you should reboot the PC so that the change can take effect. When Windows 98 comes back up, the Windows Update utility will no longer exist in the Settings folder.

To remove the check box for the Windows Update Wizard from the Update Device Driver Wizard, you must use the same path as above in your registry. This time, however, the DWORD value needs to be:
NoDevMgrUpdate

You should set the value to 1 for this solution, too, but you can leave the base as Hex. This change will take effect immediately, without a reboot of the system.

If you ever want to reset the Windows Update utility back to its original locations in the Settings folder and the Update Device Driver Wizard, you can change the value of the DWORD from 1 back to 0. You also can return the Windows Update to your Start menu by creating a new shortcut to the Wupdmgr.exe file that’s located in the Windows folder.

Working in an environment that has to follow very strict rules for the relationships among many programs can be both frustrating and gratifying. When everything comes together, it’s very pleasant; when things go bad, however, things can go really bad. Being able to remove some of this worry is a useful ability. And that’s just what removing easy access to the Windows Update utility can do for those of you in system support: Take some of the worry out of your daily work.

Paul Suiter received his first taste of the deadline rush as a photographer for the Montgomery Advertiser, where he earned four photography awards. After receiving degrees in economics and business management from Auburn University, Paul entered the college book business. After managing two bookstores for three years, Paul became a business analyst for EDS. Four years later, Paul continues with EDS, taking its equipment apart, while working with G3 switches and advanced imaging programs. But he’s finally getting back to one of his favorite pastimes—writing. (Of course, he also enjoys spending time with his wife and son.)

The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

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