Turn Automatic Update off, temporarily, in anticipation of another round of pernicious patches

January’s patches were horrible. February’s were a little better. Take a moment now to make sure you aren’t tossed in with the cannon fodder, and wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

Microsoft Windows update arrows on laptop and mobile phone
Microsoft / IDG

Microsoft has given us two messed-up patching months back to back, with January leaving blue screens and pandemonium in its wake, and February hitting the latest version of Windows 10 particularly hard. For those of you with some experience in the patching game, it’s more of the same-old same-old.

Patch Tuesday arrives tomorrow. Now would be a very good time to double-check and make sure your machine is protected from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

At least, as protected as you can make it.

When the coast is clear, we’ll spread the word from the treetops.

Those who aren’t willing or able to keep their machines updated should turn on Automatic Update and pray that the update gods don’t swallow their machines whole. Contrariwise, Windows users who understand what’s happening should take the necessary steps right now to make sure their machines are braced.

Get out of the unpaid beta-testing pool. Set yourself a reminder, if you need one, to check back in a few days to see if the screams of pain have subsided — or if, as sometimes happens, all looks well in the Windows world.

How to turn off Automatic Update for Windows patches

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1, the Automatic Update block is easy: Click Start > Control Panel > System and Security. Under Windows Update, click the "Turn automatic updating on or off" link. Click the "Change Settings" link on the left. Verify that you have Important Updates set to "Never check for updates (not recommended)" and click OK.

If you’re on Windows 10 Pro Creators Update, version 1703, or Pro 1709, and Microsoft doesn’t change its mind again, you can use Windows’ built-in tools to hold off on the looming patches — just follow Steps 7 and 8 in 8 steps to install Windows 10 patches like a pro.  Other Windows 10 users, including all Win10 Home owners, aren’t quite so lucky, but the general approach is detailed in Woody's Win10Tip: Block forced Windows updates.

A few minutes now could save you hours of headache. Get Automatic Update turned off, then watch here, or on your favorite bug-reporting site, to monitor for widespread pandemonium.

I’ve raised the MS-DEFCON 2 defensive flag on the AskWoody Lounge.

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