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automatic updates: Restart now, or later?

perhaps the most annoying dialog in the world is the Windows XP (and potentially elsewhere) dialog that pops up once your computer has finished installing automatic updates from Microsoft. It’s a really good idea to get automatic updates from Microsoft, by the way. If they find some insidious bug that needs fixing before someone uses it as an exploit and hacks your machine (and there are quite a few of those), they can fix it and get it up and installed on your machine as quickly as possible.

the dialog reads:

Updating your computer is almost complete. You must restart your computer for the updates to take effect. Do you want to restart your computer now?

your options are limited to “Restart Now” and “Restart Later”. If you click “Restart Now”, of course, your computer immediately reboots, which you might not want to do right at that second. If you click “Restart Later”, your machine waits 10 minutes, then pops up the dialog again. Then you have to click “Restart Later” again, wait another 10 minutes, click it again, and so on. If you’re not at your computer at the time (maybe you went to get a drink or something), there’s a timer that counts down, and if you don’t click on “Restart Later” during that time, the machine shuts down and reboots.

I can of course see why Microsoft would do this (see above where I talk about wanting to get problems patched as soon as possible so that you don’t get your machine hacked), but there’s nothing more annoying than having this dialog pop up every 10 minutes while you’re trying to work on something, and you just can’t make the darn thing go away.

for those of you in this situation, here’s what you can do. When you get this dialog, you can go ahead and turn off your Automatic Updates. The dialog will stop showing up, and you can get back to your work (or wasting time, as the case may be). Then, at your leisure, you can go ahead and restart your machine. Here’s how:

1. Click on Start > Run
2. Enter: services.msc (I’m guessing the msc stands for Microsoft Configuration)
3. Find “Automatic Updates” under the Name column
4. Right click on it, and select “Stop”
5. You’re done!

hope this is helpful to whoever might be reading this, as figuring out how to do this, was to me…

edit: As per the conversation below, I should point out that this doesn’t permanently stop the automatic updates. Once you reboot the machine, they turn back on at startup… so as long as you remember to do the reboot once you’re done with whatever you’re working on, the automatic updates will continue.

14. Dec, 2009

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