Windows 8: How to Adjust Automatic Update Settings

Dennis Faas's picture

In recent days, has received several inquires like this one:

"Dear Infopackets team:

I recently made the switch to Windows 8 and love most of the new features. I understand that Microsoft occasionally releases patches and updates as part of their continued improvement to the operating system. Are these updates even important? Is there any way I can stop these updates from automatically downloading and appearing on my system without my knowledge?

Love your site!

Christopher D."

My reply:

You might be able to stop the patches, but you really don't want to. Regularly updating your Windows 8 operating system is a very important part of maintenance, because the updates provide your system with critical security fixes and improved performance.

The standard (and recommended) option on most Windows 8 systems is to set it to automatically install these updates as they become available. (Source:

That's because security flaws and performance problems are best patched immediately. If you let your computer run without installing them, it becomes vulnerable to malicious hacking and viruses.

During the course of a normal Windows 8 installation (or shortly thereafter), the system asks the computer user to decide how they would like to handle Windows Updates. These answers ultimately configure the computer's use of Microsoft's free updating service.

While important, these settings are not locked in. You can change them at any time.

Changing A Windows 8 Computer's Update Settings

You can change the update settings by following these steps:

First, open the Windows 8 Control Panel. You can do this through the Power User Menu or by activating the shortcut found on the Apps screen, or by hitting the Windows key and typing in 'control panel' (no quotations).

Next, click the 'System and Security' link. This will open a window where you can select 'Windows Update.'

On the left side of the Windows Update screen, click 'Change Settings.' This will open a host of settings options allowing you to control how Windows 8 will receive updates from Microsoft. (Source:

The 'Check, Download and Install' option will allow updates to install themselves automatically. This is the setting recommended by Microsoft because it ensures all patches and updates will be added to the operating system without any effort (or remembering) by the computer user.

The 'Do Not Check At All' setting will prevent all automatic downloads, installations, and even update checks.

Take Control of Windows Updates

The 'Check and Download (Do Not Install)' option sets the computer to download Microsoft's updates, and then to ask the user which ones to install and which to leave untouched. On this setting, no updates will ever be added to the system automatically, so the user must regularly remember to review available updates.

This is the setting for those looking for more control over which updates get added to their Windows 8 system.

The 'Check Only (Do Not Download and Do Not Install)' setting tells Windows merely to notify you of what updates are available. One at a time, you decide whether or not to download them, and then whether or not to install them.

This is perhaps the best option for those looking for total control over Windows 8 updates. You will be made aware of the updates and patches released by Microsoft, but the computer system will do nothing with them until you give your approval.

Once you've made your choice (remember: you can always change it later), simply click the OK button to confirm the changes.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet