Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

It might or might not be possible to stop programs from automatically updating themselves. Most of the time, though, you don't want to interfere.

Is there ANY way to completely stop downloads/updates to my PC? I bought some software. I got it just how I wanted it and all of a sudden, the settings are all changed. No notice, nothing. Microsoft isn't the only one doing this without notification. The updates aren't a virus so my antivirus software ignored. The updates weren't in my registry so I don't know how to get my program back to what it was BEFORE the company made it's download. I uninstalled it but it keeps changing. I don't know where they keep making the changes.

Short answer: no.

Medium answer: it depends.

Long answer: you really don't want to stop all updates. Honest.

I say that the short answer is "no" simply because short of disconnecting from the internet, there's no one way to do so.

That's why the medium answer is "it depends" - each program that supports this type of updating feature does so in its own way and by its own rules.

So in your case, you would have to research the options given to you by the particular program you're having problems with. If they don't offer a way to turn off automatic updates, then ... well, then there's no way to turn off automatic updates. If that's causing you problems, then I would strongly recommend contacting the people who created that software and letting them know exactly how, and why it's a problem.

"But the fundamental reason for most automatic updates is to fix ... fix bugs that manifest as security vulnerabilities."

Windows is a good example. While Windows does sometimes get annoying about its automatic update feature, the bottom line is that you can turn it off. Completely.

And, I agree with you that that should be an option in any software that has this functionality. There are times when it's the right thing to do.

But not for most folks.

Which is why I say you don't really want to stop all updates.

I don't know what's being updated for the program you mention, or why. I also don't know how it's impacting your use of the program. On the surface it sounds like a very poorly designed update feature.

But the fundamental reason for most automatic updates is to fix bugs, and more importantly these days, fix bugs that manifest as security vulnerabilities. That's why Windows Update is so darned important - once a vulnerability has been discovered, hackers are all over it trying to find machines that haven't been updated yet. The faster and more regularly you keep your machine up to date, the less you're exposed to potential threats. It's not always Windows, just this week a vulnerability in the Adobe Flash player was publicized, and updates required.

So I would not recommend turning off all updates in response to your situation. You're simply placing yourself at greater risk of a different problem.

What I would do, as I said, is pursue the options with the particular software you're having difficulty with.

Article C3401 - May 31, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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12 Comments
Minot Isok
June 1, 2008 12:04 AM

If there is no way to configure each individual program's update feature you might try configuring your firewall to not allow a specifc program to have that specific access to the internet. I have a few programs that I use but I set up my firewall to not let them update via the internet. You really need to know how to tweak your two-way software firewall in order for this to be succesful.

fastfreddie1959
June 3, 2008 12:05 PM

Yes....using your firewall is a good thing.
I personally use comodo firewall and it asks
first if i want to allow a program to install
on my computer.
If i deny then it is not allowed and will
not be downloaded.
Im not sure what other firewalls have this
feature but i like the one im using
and has done it's job.

Soundwash
June 3, 2008 9:16 PM

You *could* try to use use System Restore, if its enabled, to go back right before installation of the errant program. -typically, (but not always) System Restore will make a snapshot of your system right before it install a new application.

it should be located in Accessories/System Tools.

Run it and click "restore my computer to an earlier time" -check the calendar an see if it made a restore point before it was installed..

NOTE: if you restore back to that point, you'll lose any major changes made to your system since then..

failing that... you could use
Filemon and/or Regmon from

http://sysinternals.com/

to track any and all changes to the registry
or file I/O operations the program makes..

Mark at sysinternals.com writed some outstanding free utilities no respectable pc geek should be without.. i highly suggest you download all utilities and lean them.. Especially Process Explorer. you'll be able to keep tabs on every aspect of your PC and more...

good luck,
-gregO

Sean
January 5, 2009 1:36 AM

To add to this question. How can I find out WHICH program is trying to update istelf? It is not a Windows update as I completed that update. Every time I start up my laptop there is a program running called "Update via Internet" (thats all it says in the task manager). When I look at the process that is running it just says UpdateUI. So it appears that one of my apps is trying to update the User Interface. I have been terminating the program because it just runs and runs and asd i pay per GB of download, I want to make sure I actually allow this to run ad-infinitem... I'd really like to know what this is and how big this download could be..

Anyone can help??
Thanks
Sean

B McCaffrey
January 24, 2009 4:28 AM

Is it possible to down load windowsxp repairs to my email and then upload to my pc as i have avirus on my pc and it wont let me access the Microsoft site.

Macera
September 16, 2009 10:13 AM

try not allowing any exceptions with your firewall, worked for me

Johnny
April 26, 2010 2:02 PM

All you people just beat around the bush.If i don't want any more of microsofts crap on my puter i should be able to stop all
the uploads.Thinks for nothing.

andy
June 15, 2011 5:11 PM

goto Run
type Services.msc
find Windows updates
Right click, select properties
Select Disabled from the drop down menu
Restart

Teo Graca
November 27, 2011 8:27 AM

The only way for sure to keep auto updates from running is to disconnect the computer from the Internet. I have several apps running in this way on separate computers. I consider my Internet computers "sacrificial" computers, and generally have to do a complete reinstall on these computers at least once each year. Then I use "sneaker-net" to walk files from one computer to another.

It used to be that programs had to be running before the auto-updates run, but now software packages will infiltrate your operating services when run, update them to initiate an update, and run the update when the application is not running. Frustrating to say the least, eh!

What is needed is a 3rd party program that monitors and turns off ANY kind of Internet access - to or from your computer - when it isn't initiated by the user. It would also need to secure files on the local machine from being changed by automated programs. Also, it would be nice for the program to allow users to register these software "rights" violations on a website so everyone could see the problems associated with each program someone is considering buying.

Do we need laws to protect our privacy rights? Well, you can forget that. The law makers are not going to do anything for you, and most people don't understand the problem.

The problem is that many people don't see anti-virus programs as THE virus. They don't see anti-phishing and tool bars as THE phishing software. They don't see things the way they really are. Wake up! I haven't seen any software like this software I described because there would be no real demand for it, and I don't expect to see it anytime soon.

To make matters worse, Microsoft and MAC operating systems are doing more and more to abstract the files systems so new and existing users are less and less able to figure out and fix all these changes.

PS - I am using more and more SaaS services, which don't run on my computer. Google Docs works well. I love Lucid Charts too. In this way, if my computer dies, I still have my files and applications.

Maureen West
February 23, 2012 11:50 AM

I don't want to stop updates just control when they are downloaded. Big updates use up my 100 mb Broadband allowance. I leave the Windows updates on the task bar till the evening then start them. Is there some way to find out which program is downloading an update? my ISP shows what time of the day it has happened but I can't find out what it was. Can you help?

Mark J
February 23, 2012 12:15 PM

@Maureen
This article:
How do I make sure that Windows is up-to-date?
explains how you can control when Windows runs its updates. For example, you can set it to check for updates, but then you can manually install them when it is best for you.

Jim
September 4, 2012 11:22 PM

Yes, I understand the frustration that others are having with software going ahead in the background taking over the internet connection and hogging it to themselves.

The 1st answer way above is a load of tripple tripe, Huh, if someone like myself want's to download MS Updates or ANY updates for that matter, OR if we want to STOP all updates to our computers, it is our right to do so.

I also have had this month of August Activ8me Prime, (high upload and download speed) STOLEN in 2 hours by stinking updates.

As an Invalid Pensioner, I cannot afford to go to any higher plan, so please do suggest it.......grrrr

I am NOT amused to be kept at dialup speeds because stinking updates STOLE my alowed PRIME 1 gig allowence.

So GET REAL Leo. A. N

For those people who want to knobble some of their updates, you can try Update Freezer, google for it, it has helped me but it isn't capable of switching everything trying to update your computer.


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