Windows Update can be helpful — but it’s not helpful when it gets in your way. In this article I will go over your Windows Update options and how you can make the Windows Update choice that best suits your workstyle. Note that while this article is based around Windows Vista, the concepts presented here are similar and apply generally to other versions of Windows.
1. First, in order to change the Windows Update settings, you need to go to the Windows Vista control panel and select “Windows Update” (the Control Panel options is marked with the yellow dot in the image):
2. Select the “Windows Update” option.
3. In the left-side column select “Change Settings”
4. In the screen that follows, you can now choose your preferred setting:
Personally I prefer to check the updates and have Windows only download all the updates I select. The reason for this choice is that sometimes Windows will install updates that I don’t want, for example, a new version of Internet Explorer or a new Service Pack. So by doing it this way, I can select what is installed as well as when it’s installed.
If you aren’t concerned about this level of detail, then it’s probably best to select “Download Updates but let me choose whether to install them.” In this manner you will get all of the updates, but you will get to chose when they are installed — so this way you won’t be interrupted by Windows Update running at a random time. But if you make either of these selections, you must remember to manually install the updates because they now will not happen automatically.
The other option you have is to have Windows install updates automatically (which may once and a while be what you need if you don’t mind occasional interruptions).
The last option, which is to turn off updates, is not recommended. Windows Updates are important, and if you are not sure which ones to install and not install, it’s safer to err on the side of caution and let Windows install them all. If you don’t, you may be overlooking a critical security patch or other update that affects how your system works.