How to set when Windows 10 is allowed to install updates and restart your PC

Up until now, Windows 10 users had no control over how and when their computers or devices chose to reboot in order to automatically install operating system updates. That’s not exactly what you’d call a friendly approach and, even more, it can be quite unhelpful for people using Windows 10 at work. Just imagine what would it mean for you to have a meeting on Skype with an important client and your Windows 10 computer decides to restart and install updates. Not to mention those apocalyptical situations when updates encounter errors: all your work is on that Windows 10 computer and troubleshooting takes forever. Starting with Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft finally took some steps towards correcting these issues with the help of two small and helpful features: Active hours and custom restart times. Read on to see where you’ll find these settings and how to configure them:

NOTE: The features shared in this article apply only to Windows 10 with Anniversary Update or to Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14367 or newer. Windows 10 Anniversary Update will be available for free, to all Windows 10 users, as of August 2, 2016.

How to set Active Hours so that Windows 10 doesn’t restart while you’re working

The first thing you must do is open the Settings app. A quick way to do that is to click or tap on the Settings icon from the Start Menu. There are also other ways and we covered all of them here: 6 ways to open the Settings app in Windows 10.

Inside Settings , click or tap the Update & security category.

If it’s not already selected, click or tap Windows Update in the column on the left.

On the right side of the window, you’ll find all the settings that govern the way Windows 10 updates itself. Amongst them, you’ll also find an option called Change active hours. Click or tap on it.

The Settings app will display a dialog in which you’re told that “Active hours lets us [Microsoft] know when you usually use this device. When a restart is necessary to finish installing an update, we won’t automatically restart your device during active hours”.

The meaning of this is obvious: you can set a time frame in which you usually work on your Windows 10 computer or device, and the operating system will make sure that it won’t interrupt you during that time with a system reboot.

Enter the Start time and the End time of your usual working hours and then click or tap on Save to apply them.

Note that Windows 10 doesn’t let you configure an Active hours timeframe that’s longer than 12 hours. If you do try that, you’ll get a message telling you that “Active hours can be set between 1 and 12 hours”.

How to set a custom restart time for updating Windows 10 only after you’ve done all your work

Although configuring Active hours is really useful for daily activities, there may be times when you’ve got a really tight deadline to meet and you must work after hours. In such situations, restarting your computer only to update Windows 10 would be even more unproductive than on other days. That’s why Microsoft also gave us the option to override Active hours and schedule a custom restart time for installing updates.

To configure the custom restart time, in the Settings app, go back to the Windows Update section. On the right side of the window, right under the Change active hours link, you’ll find an option called Restart options. Click or tap on it.

The Settings app will show a section named Restart options, where you can configure Windows 10 to “Use a custom restart time”.

By default, this time is not scheduled and the option is set Off. However, when there are some updates already downloaded on your Windows computer or device, the operating system awaits for the Active hours to end so that it can automatically restart and install the updates. If you don’t want that, you can come here and enable the custom restart time to any day and time. This scheduled restart time will override the active hours.

Conclusion

The Active hours and the custom restart time are two small options that give Windows 10 user a bit of control over what how their computers and devices act when it comes to updates. Although Microsoft still doesn’t let us disable or control what updates we get, at least now we have a way to choose when these updates get installed. Is this enough? Or you’d prefer more - like in having real control over what gets installed on your Windows 10 devices, not only when?