How to Change Windows Update Settings

9 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Home Network Security

You can change how Windows Update installs updates to your computer. Windows Update is Microsoft’s online portal for providing software fixes and security patches to the public. There are several options for Windows Update that you can configure, such as how updates are downloaded and installed (automatically or manually) and who can install updates on your computer.

Windows updates are prioritized as:

  • Important: Improve security, privacy, and reliability.

  • Recommended: Improve performance or address noncritical issues.

  • Optional: Include new drivers or software to help improve performance or stability.

Different types of Windows updates include:

  • Security update: Fixes a known security vulnerability in a specific software product or version. These updates are further classified as critical, important, moderate, or low severity.

  • Critical update: Fixes a critical, nonsecurity-related bug or a specific problem.

  • Service Pack: A set of fixes and updates that have been tested and rolled up into a single installation.

Follow these steps to change Windows Update settings:

  1. Open the Windows Control Panel, and then click System and Security. Click Windows Update.

    The Windows Update window appears.

  2. In the left pane, click Change Settings.

    The Change Settings window appears.

  3. Under Important Updates, choose from one of the following four options in the drop-down menu:

    • 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).

      You can choose how Windows updates are downloaded and installed.
      You can choose how Windows updates are downloaded and installed.
  4. If you selected Install Updates Automatically in Step 3, select how often to install new updates and at what time.

    You can select Every Day or a specific day of the week. These options are grayed out if you choose one of the other three options.

  5. Select any of the following options, as desired:

    • Recommended Updates: Select this check box if you want Windows Update to automatically install recommended updates as well as important updates.

    • Who Can Install Updates: Select this option to allow standard users to install updates. Otherwise, an administrator account is required.

    • Microsoft Update: This option checks for installed Microsoft products (such as Microsoft Office) and searches for updates to that software.

    • Software Notifications: Provides detailed information about new Microsoft software when it is available.

      Additional Windows Update settings.
      Additional Windows Update settings.
  6. Click OK when you're done.

    Windows 7 saves the changes you made to Windows Update settings.

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