Sometimes updates downloaded and installed from Windows Update require a reboot of the system in order for installation of the updates to complete properly. This can be annoying however if you have programs running on your system and you are away from the system (and hopefully asleep at 3 am when updates are normally installed). When the reboot occurs, Windows will forcibly shut down any running programs after waiting a period of time for the user to respond. As an example of the type of frustration that can result, let’s say that you have Outlook running with a very large PST file. In this case it’s possible that forcible shutdown of Outlook may corrupt the PST file. Then when you log on to the system in the morning and start Outlook, it may take some time for Outlook to scan and repair the PST file before you can access your email.
If you have Windows Update configured to download and install updates automatically on a standalone Windows 7 system, you can follow these steps to ensure that the system waits for you to respond before it reboots:
1. Type gpedit.msc in the Start menu search box and open Group Policy editor on your system.
2. Enable the “No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Updates installations” policy setting found under Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update
If this problem happens on domain-joined systems, the domain admin can use Group Policy to configure the above policy setting on targeted computers.
Mitch Tulloch is a seven-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award and widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. For more tips by Mitch you can follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.