Image: iStockphoto/Murat Göçmen

Large organizations typically control and deploy Windows updates through various management tools. But small businesses and individual users are more apt to install updates directly on their PCs through the Windows Update feature. The problem here is that updates delivered this way sometimes try to install at the worst possible times, interrupting your workflow and focus. Fortunately, Microsoft gives you certain options to control when and how updates install on your computer.

You can set the active hours during which time your PC won’t reboot after an update, opt to download updates over metered connections, and pause your updates for up to 35 days. With the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, you can also pause updates for up to seven days if necessary. Let’s look at the different ways you can control Windows 10 updates.

SEE: Windows 10 May 2019 Update: 10 notable new features (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

To cover the steps here, I’m using the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, aka Windows 10 version 1903. All the options I describe are available in the previous version of Windows 10, except for the one on pausing updates for seven days. Many of the features I cover here are found only in Windows 10 Enterprise and Pro and not in Windows 10 Home.

To view and manage your updates, open Settings and then click on the setting for Update & Security (Figure A).

Figure A

In the Windows Update section, click on the option to Change Active Hours. This displays the current start and end hours during which time Windows will not automatically reboot to fully install an update. To change the current active hours, click the Change link and select the new hours (Figure B). Click Save.

Figure B

Alternatively, you can ask Windows to automatically adjust the active hours based on when you typically use your computer. This means the active hours may change if your work schedule changes. To do this, turn on the switch to Automatically Adjust Active Hours For This Device Based On Activity (Figure C).

Figure C

Next, return to the main Windows Update screen to explore other options. Click on the entry for Advanced Options (Figure D).

Figure D

If you wish to receive updates for Microsoft Office and other Microsoft products, turn on the switch to Receive Updates For Other Microsoft Products When You Update Windows.

If you want to be able to download updates over metered connections, such as those over a cellular network, turn on the switch to Download Updates Over Metered Connections (Extra Charges May Apply).

Note that Windows sets cellular connections as metered by default. Wi-Fi and Ethernet networks are not set to metered, though you can set them this way if necessary. As one example, you might want to set a hotspot created through your phone as a metered connection. To do this from Settings, go to Network And Internet and then select Wi-Fi. Click on the link for Manage Known Networks. Select the network you want to set as metered and click on the Properties button. Turn on the switch to Set As Metered Connection.

Back at the Update Options screen, you can choose to have Windows restart as soon as possible. You might do this if you’re expecting a critical update and don’t want to wait for it to completely install. To do this, turn on the switch to Restart This Device As Soon As Possible When A Restart Is Required To Install An Update.

To be notified when your PC requires a reboot after an update, turn on the switch to Show A Notification When Your PC Requires A Restart To Finish Updating.

Next, you can pause updates for up to 35 days. You may choose this option if you wish to avoid an upcoming update or simply don’t want any changes made to Windows for a certain period of time. Keep in mind though: You may also miss any critical updates, so you don’t want to defer updates for too long. To enable this, click on the Select Date menu and choose a specific date for when you want to resume updates (Figure E). To turn off the pausing, return to the main Windows Update screen and click on the button to Resume Updates.

Figure E

Next, you can defer certain types of updates for a specific number of days. In the section for Choose When Updates Are Installed, you can defer for up to eight days feature updates, such as the Windows 10 2019 Update, and quality updates such as security improvements. To set either one, click the dropdown menu for days and choose the number of days from 1 to 8 (Figure F).

Figure F

Finally, return to the main Windows Update screen. The Windows 10 May 2019 Update offers an additional option to pause updates. At the main screen, click on the button to Pause Updates For 7 More Days (Figure G). To resume updates before the seven days are up, click on the button to Resume Updates.

Figure G