Configuring Automatic Windows Updates

by Barry Dysert
(last updated January 26, 2015)

Windows Update is a Windows 7 feature that runs on your computer and keeps your copy of Windows up to date with the latest software patches from Microsoft. It does this by periodically connecting to the Internet, downloading, and installing any updates that have been released since the last time Windows Update ran. If you want to change how Windows Update is configured, you can do so. First, go to Start | Control Panel | Windows Update. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Windows Update dialog box.

Click Change Settings, at the left side of the dialog box, and Windows displays the settings by which Windows Update is operated. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Change Settings dialog box for Windows Update.

By opening the top drop-down list box you can select one of the following options:

  • Install updates automatically (recommended)
  • Download updates, but let me choose whether to install them
  • Check for updates, but let me choose whether to download and install them
  • Never check for updates (not recommended)

The next two drop-down lists allow you to specify when the action should be performed. You can pick any day of the week or have them installed every day. You can also choose what time of day the update process occurs. By checking the checkboxes on the screen you can indicate whether recommended updates should be handled the same way as important updates (Microsoft classifies updates as "important", "recommended", or "optional"), and whether all users can install updates on the computer. When you are finished configuring how Windows Update should work, click OK to put the new configuration into effect.

Remember that Windows Update can only function properly if your system is turned on. Thus, if you set the feature to run during the middle of the night (which is very common—you aren't using your computer then), you need to make sure your computer is left running all night. If you, instead, turn your computer off, then Windows Update will run the next time you turn your computer on.

 This tip (12336) applies to Windows 7.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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