Cancelling Windows 7 Updates

September 21, 2011, By Christian Cawley

The Windows Update allows you to keep your PC or laptop up-to-date with the latest enhancements to the operating system, as well as access to the latest device drivers for your hardware. With Windows Update you can also use your computer in the knowledge that the latest security updates for the operating system, browser, email application and other vulnerabilities are present.

As good as all this might sound, however, it isn’t ideal in some cases. You might be running on a slow Internet connection, have limited bandwidth or have a netbook or laptop that is rarely connected to the Internet. In these cases you might only wish to check for and install updates at particular times, such as weekends or evenings, or even cancel updates altogether and check them only when convenient for you.

Cancelling Windows 7 Updates

If this is the case, you’re in luck. While Microsoft actives its Windows Update tool to detect and download updates on a regular basis, this can be disabled, allowing you to retain control over your computer and the amount of data it downloads.

Scheduling a Windows Update

To take control over Windows Update and prevent it from eating your bandwidth, you will need to disable the current scheduled update program and initiate your own. Do this by opening Start > Control Panel > System and security > Turn automatic updating on or off; you will then be presented with a set of options.

The default Install updates automatically will probably be selected, but you can change this to Download updates but let me choose whether to install them or Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them. You might also select Never check for updates to completely disable the service, although note that you will also need to clear the checkbox options below.

Should you choose any of the first three options you will then be able to install updates based on a schedule suitable to you. This might mean checking daily or once a week at a particular time, more than likely when you’re not using your computer.

Deleting an Update

What happens when Windows has downloaded an update that you don’t want to install? It is now too late to deal with preventing the data from being sent to your computer as the bandwidth has already been eaten into. However if you have a problem or simply don’t need to updates, you will probably want to remove them, either to prevent Windows from reminding you that they are ready to install or to stop them from eating up valuable hard disk space (particularly important on a netbook).

In order to delete updates that you don’t need, head to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download and browse through the list. Most of the file- and directory-names will mean little, but if you view the folder in detail view (as a list via the Change your view button) you can see the contents listed by date and hopefully establish which ones you need to remove. Or you could just discard them all – note that administrator access may be required to perform this task.

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