Guide: Pause Windows Updates

Hellbovine

Active Member
This guide explains how to pause Windows Update for any amount of time, and was designed for Windows 10 (21H2), but may work on other versions too.

; Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced options > Pause updates > Up to 4 years
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX\Settings]
"FlightSettingsMaxPauseDays"=dword:000005b4

; Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced options > Pause updates > Until January 1st, 2026
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX\Settings]
"PauseFeatureUpdatesStartTime"="2022-07-01T20:00:00Z"
"PauseQualityUpdatesStartTime"="2022-07-01T20:00:00Z"
"PauseFeatureUpdatesEndTime"="2026-01-01T20:00:00Z"
"PauseQualityUpdatesEndTime"="2026-01-01T20:00:00Z"
"PauseUpdatesExpiryTime"="2026-01-01T20:00:00Z"

The "FlightSettingsMaxPauseDays" is the most important key of all, since it ties all of this together and makes it actually work without any bugs or quirks. This is an undocumented key that controls the default 35 days maximum limit for pausing updates, and without it everything else gets ignored by Windows Update.

The timestamps here are in what is called "Zulu" time, which is what the "Z" stands for at the end of each key's value. Really this just means GMT (Greenwich mean time), which also is the same as UTC (Universal Time Coordinated), but all you need to know is:

- The StartTime for the keys is July 1st, 2022, 8pm UTC
- The EndTime for the keys is January 1st, 2026, 8pm UTC

Note: I used this end date because the end of support for Windows 10 is October, 2025, so once you get close to this date you should obtain the latest ISO from Microsoft and work on making a final NTLite image to use until Windows 10 is killed off permanently. I also made sure that the start dates were not more than 1,460 days away from the end dates, so that it played nice with the FlightSettingsMaxPauseDay key limit of 1,460 days that I set.

For good measure I would group these Windows Update keys with the following one too, since the Microsoft Store is another automatic downloader:

; Start > Microsoft Store > Settings > App updates > Off
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsStore\WindowsUpdate]
"AutoDownload"=dword:00000002

I fully tested if these keys will stick in a clean install using an NTLite image, and they do, for all users. I should clarify too, that this tweak not only changes the default OS settings, so that on a clean install the updates are already paused for you, but you can still manually perform Windows Updates, and you can also change the pause date in the advanced options page to any date you want, up to 4 years into the future. It essentially gives the user back full control over Windows Update again.

For more guides like this one, visit the following link:
https://www.ntlite.com/community/index.php?threads/gaming-lounge.2999/
 
Last edited:

garlin

Moderator
Staff member
Now here's the major warning I should give: I have not used the same computer for longer than 35 days to see if something else in the OS will just ignore the FlightSettingsMaxPauseDays and reset things anyway. However, I did simulate several days by running the following command a few times, while rebooting the computer in between, and Windows Update never automatically downloaded anything:
Run it in VM, disable time sync with host and external NTP and run the clock forward... I believe the docs say there's some nuance with the "when WU last checked" timestamp.
 

Hellbovine

Active Member
Run it in VM, disable time sync with host and external NTP and run the clock forward... I believe the docs say there's some nuance with the "when WU last checked" timestamp.
Ah yeah really good idea about moving clock forward, I didn't even think of that. I'll work on that now and update when it's done.

I did see that timestamp key you're talking about, it was named something like WaasLastUpdate or similar, I can't remember exactly offhand, and I was worried I would have to manipulate it, but so far I got away without touching it. I'll see how the clock test turns out.
 

Hellbovine

Active Member
Okay, so I went back and did more testing thanks to Garlin's idea. This is a long read, but I wanted people to know that this guide had additional thorough vetting ontop of what I originally did. Here's what I tested this time, and the results I got:

1) I have the time service disabled, and syncing off. Then I changed the date to the year 2025. I plugged in my ethernet (I was totally offline on this clean install I had just done, minutes ago, with no drivers installed yet) and then I gave it a minute of idling before doing anything.

2) I loaded up Microsoft Edge, which then gave me the "Your clock has the wrong time" error, just so I could confirm that something was indeed picking up the new time on my clock.

3) Then I loaded up the Microsoft store and went to the downloads page, to see if they were sneaking anything in there, and it wasn't, so that was good.

4) Next I went into the Windows Update settings page and it still said everything was paused, with no updates installed.

5) Now I ran the processidletasks command and waited for it to finish, and then I checked my ethernet adapter data usage, and also the Windows Update delivery optimization data usage page, and both showed no signs of Windows Update.

6) I rebooted the PC, then I found the keys that I think Garlin was referring to, and I deleted them (I saw these keys being modified when I was originally creating this guide and working on this stuff):

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX\StateVariables]
"UpToDateStatusRecalcTimestamp"=-
"WaasAssessmentCheckTimestamp"=-

Note: It has a =- because that's how I deleted it, via a .reg file. Normally it has a bunch of numbers there.

7) I did steps 2-5 again to see if forcing those timestamps to update would change anything, and all still appeared to be good.

8) As a last ditch effort to get it to reset on its own, I then enabled the time service, fixed my clock time and synced it with Microsoft, rebooted, then did steps 2-5 again. Still no Windows Update or Microsoft Store auto downloads.

I think this guide is probably good to go, unless there's something else that needs testing that I missed. If someone wants to give this a shot on Windows 11 I'd love to hear how that goes.

I should note that I am on Home edition too, which is really nice that it's working for this edition, it makes it a much more useful tweak that way.
 

garlin

Moderator
Staff member
If you like PowerShell for date conversion.

July 1, 2022 8PM GMT
Code:
([System.BitConverter]::GetBytes((Get-Date '2022-07-01 20:00+0').ToFileTime()) | foreach { ('{0:x2}' -f $_).ToUpper() }) -join ','

00,20,19,25,85,8D,D8,01
 

Hellbovine

Active Member
Updated original post to streamline and simplify things, and incorporated forum feedback.

I still want to revisit this tweak again in the future because although it works great, it doesn't quite feel perfect to me. I want to explore more of the related settings. I'm still hopeful for example that I can stop Windows from trying to download and install display drivers automatically, though this might be a pipe dream.
 
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