Disabling Automatic Restart for Windows Server 2012 Essentials

As with other verions of Microsoft Windows, such as Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, you may find Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and the Windows Server 2012 Essentials edition rebooting the system at inopportune times for updates. You can temporarily delay the shutdown by issuing the command net stop "windows update" at a command prompt. Note: you need to open an admin command prompt to do so, which you can do by moving the mouse pointer to the lower, left-hand corner of the screen, then right-clicking on the Start button when it appears and choosing Command Prompt (Admin). But that will only postpone the reboot, because Windows will later restart the service on its own, even if you don't reboot. You can determine if it has restarted by reissuing the command. You will see a message "The Windows Update service is not started", if it isn't running.
C:\Windows\system32>net stop "windows update"
The Windows Update service is stopping.
The Windows Update service was stopped successfully.

C:\Windows\system32>net stop "windows update"
The Windows Update service is not started.

More help is available by typing NET HELPMSG 3521.

You can pemanently disable the automatic restart by changing the group policy for the system by running gpedit.msc, which you can run by issuing the command gpedit at a command prompt or by right-clicking on the Start button, choosing Run and then typing gpedit.msc and hitting Enter. When the Local Group Policy Editor window opens, navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Update. In the right pane of the window, you will see "No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations".

Local Group Policy
Editor - No auto-restart

Double-click on that text. You will then see a window where you can change the setting from its default value of "Not Configured".


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No auto-restart not 

Change the setting to Enabled.

No auto-restart configured

You will see the following help information displayed for the setting:

Specifies that to complete a scheduled installation, Automatic Updates will wait for the computer to be restarted by any user who is logged on, instead of causing the computer to restart automatically.

If the status is set to Enabled, Automatic Updates will not restart a computer automatically during a scheduled installation if a user is logged in to the computer. Instead, Automatic Updates will notify the user to restart the computer.

Be aware that the computer needs to be restarted for the updates to take effect.

If the status is set to Disabled or Not Configured, Automatic Updates will notify the user that the computer will automatically restart in 5 minutes to complete the installation.

Note: This policy applies only when Automatic Updates is configured to perform scheduled installations of updates. If the "Configure Automatic Updates" policy is disabled, this policy has no effect.

You can then click on Apply and OK. You will then see a Windows Update message stating "You need to restart your PC to finish installing important updates", if you lock the screen, but the system won't automatically reboot.

Note: you can use gpedit.msc to make the same change on some other versions of Windows, such as "Professional" editions of Windows 7.


  1. Prevent Windows Update From Automatically Restarting Your PC
    By: Matthew DeCarlo
    Date: December 16, 2009


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