Windows 10 marks a turning point in the history of the world’s most popular desktop operating system in that it is effectively distributed as a software-as-a-service platform. As such, it is often referred to as the very last truly independent edition of Windows. Instead, updates large and small will constantly be delivered to this dynamic and versatile operating system to such an extent that no computer will be left running an out-of-date platform. In accordance with this new approach, it is impossible to disable automatic updates in Windows 10. In fact, Windows Update has completely vanished from the old desktop control panel to make way for its new home as part of the Settings app.
While the new system makes sure that your computer is always kept up-to-date, it does come with its disadvantages. For example, on the very day of its release, Windows 10 presented significant problems for many people using nVidia graphics cards, due to the fact that Windows Update forcibly installed unsuitable drivers. Fortunately, there are various ways around problems such as these.
Disabling Problematic Updates
Due to the vast number of possible configurations for both laptop and desktop PCs, there is always the chance of a problem arising with certain updates on some systems. After all, Windows Update now automatically downloads and installs all updates, including device drivers and other non-essential software. While you could hide these updates in previous editions, this is no longer possible in Windows 10 without downloading an additional tool.
If you’re having a problem with a particular update, you’ll need to download KB3073930 from Microsoft Support. Packaged in the form of a Windows trouble-shooter, this tool allows you to hide specific updates to temporarily prevent them from being installed until this issue in question is fixed. If the update has already been installed, yet continues to cause problems, you’ll first need to uninstall it by opening Windows Update and navigating to Advanced options > View your update history > Uninstall updates. Remove the offending update before running the tool to hide it and prevent it from being automatically installed again. If you decide later that you want to install the update, simply run the tool again, and select ‘Show hidden updates’.
Enabling System Restore
Windows 10 promises to be a very stable operating system, but things can always go wrong, particularly when installing major updates. System Restore allows you to roll back your computer to an earlier point, although it is disabled by default in Windows 10. If you enable it, Windows Update will automatically create a restore point before installing any updates.
To turn on System Restore, right-click the bottom-left corner of the screen or press Windows key + X to open the system menu. Click on ‘System’, and navigate to Advanced system settings > System Protection. Select your system drive, and click ‘Configure’. Here you can turn on system protection (System Restore), and select a maximum amount of disk space that the utility can use. The more disk space you allocate, the more restore points your computer can create, thus providing a higher level of protection.
Gain Access to Pre-release Builds
Windows 10 was extensively tested by the general public for many months before its release in what was Microsoft’s largest ever public beta-testing programme. Those who tested the Developer and Technical Previews of Windows 10 may remember the Slow Ring and Fast Ring options available in Windows Update. These allowed testers to choose how quickly they received updates, and a similar function remains in the retail edition of the operating system.
In the Advanced options section of Windows Update, you’ll see a section entitled ‘Get Insider builds’. By selecting this, you’ll have access to updates, apps and even entirely new Windows builds as soon as they are available to Windows Insider subscribers. However, you should be aware that this involves installing pre-release software on your computer for the purposes of testing only. You should avoid using this feature on your primary computer, since the software being downloaded has not been extensively tested for bugs.
Love it or hate it, automatic updates have become an integral part of the whole Windows experience. The feature exists to keep your computer secure and functioning optimally, so everyone benefits. However, the ability to disable problematic updates does at least overcome the one major drawback of having the occasional incompatible or otherwise problematic download.