How To: Stop Windows Vista/Windows 7 from Automatically Restarting Your PC after Updates

I went to clone a USB hard-drive onto another last night, and because VirtualBox USB throughput is pretty slow, and there was a couple of hundred GB to copy, I booted into Windows to do it. So far, so good. Only at some point during the night Windows decided to install some petty IE fix or some shit, and then proceeded to restart my box. Mid-clone. It probably put up a 15 minute warning saying I’m going to reboot your box unless you stop me, and then without any further input just did it.

That is just some of the most wrong-headed thinking I can possibly imagine. It’s basically saying: I don’t give a shit about anything you’re doing. I don’t care if you haven’t saved your files or you’re in the middle of something. I’m just gonna reboot. Because I want to. And I’m in charge, not you.

You can fix this default, and frankly rage-inducing, behavior as follows:

1.) Fire up the Group Policy Editor by going Start | Run | gpedit.msc

Fix Vista auto-reboot with gpedit.msc

2.) Go to: Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | Windows Components | Windows Update and modify the No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations to Enabled

Fix Vista auto-reboot with gpedit.msc

3.) Reboot for it to take effect. (How ironic ;))

It should be noted that if you’re on a domain, domain-level settings can override group policy ones, and that after the restart window will still pop up after updating Windows – it’ll just never reboot the machine without user confirmation that it’s okay to do so.

Oh, and if you’re on Vista Home Edition, you don’t even get group policy tools in the first place, in which case you can get busy with the registry as per this article – or use the registry file they provide, or just use this Auto Reboot Remover tool.

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