May 20, 2005

Windows Automatic Reboots

Windows Automatic Update has struck again. Yesterday a new Critical Update came down the wire, and Windows downloaded and installed it just like it should. But then, once again, it decided to reboot the computer after the install was finished. And so all day I was getting compalints from people all across the company that their computer was rebooting all by itself. I would think that something like this would be unacceptable to most people. I sure don’t like it. But it’s the way Windows is designed. Luckily there’s a way to change it.

I found the solution on Tim Rains’ weblog. It involves a registry entry that you have to set on each computer in order to turn off the automatic reboot. You go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU and create a DWORD value named NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers. Then set it to 1 (or download this .reg file) and, theoretically, your computer won’t reboot, but just notify you that a reboot is needed. And really, isn’t that the way it should be? I guess this is another example of Microsoft’s new devotion to security at all costs, without regard for the unexpected consequences that it brings about. Tim himself gives several cases where a reboot definitely was not weclomed:

One person’s Windows Media Center Edition system was rebooted while they were watching their favorite show on TV. Another person, who uses their laptop as an alarm clock when they travel, slept in because their system was rebooted and the alarm clock application didn’t restart. Another person said they were working on a Word doc and went to the restroom only to return to find their system rebooted and the Word doc gone.

And yet, even after all that, he still recommends leaving the reboot active, because, and this is the standard Microsoft party line, “If you do not reboot the system…your system will still be vulnerable.” Well, you know, my system’s been vulnerable for months now anyway, because you didn’t find this vulnerability until now. So I don’t think another two hours is going to hurt. Just pop up a little window every half hour letting me know a reboot is required, and trust me that I’ll do it when I’m done with the computer. Taking control of and rebooting my computer is not okay, even if it’s meant to protect me from a bug in your code.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

Comments (16)

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  1. Dave says:

    I guess this is another example of Microsoft’s new devotion to security at all costs, without regard for the unexpected consequences that it brings about.

    Or they could be devoted to writing solid, open source software that is inherently secure, rather than plugging up the holes they find as time marches on.

    I’m just sayin’.

    Posted May 20, 2005 @ 9:42 am
  2. Anonymous says:

    Indeed. Solid, inherently secure, open source software like KDE:

    Posted May 20, 2005 @ 2:50 pm
  3. David Phillips says:

    Your .reg file creates a string, not a DWORD.

    Posted May 23, 2005 @ 7:19 am
  4. Scott Schrantz says:

    Thanks for pointing that out. It’s fixed.

    Posted May 23, 2005 @ 10:03 am
  5. Richard Moore says:

    That’s great, but I’ve got computers on the network which keep rebooting after a security patch, even with the registry tweaked as above! I’m baning my head against the wall. Logged on users are losing their work and complaining that hackers never lost them work like the paranoid microsoft security patching reboots do.

    Posted September 5, 2005 @ 6:29 am
  6. Anonymous says:

    Great! I was looking for something like this. Thanks a lot!

    Posted April 27, 2006 @ 8:12 pm
  7. Nate says:

    I’m not sure why, but the AU folder’s not there for me.

    Posted July 15, 2006 @ 12:34 pm
  8. Unseen says:

    Cool….ive needed this!!!

    Posted August 14, 2006 @ 11:22 pm
  9. Chris says:

    thanks for the info man this is very nice to have!

    and that is so true stupid auto reboot lol

    Posted September 7, 2006 @ 5:43 pm
  10. Terabanitoss says:

    Hi all!
    You are The Best!!!

    Posted May 6, 2007 @ 5:17 am
  11. Promythyus says:

    Thanks Man! I just lost a bf2 match with my friend because of this stupid thing!

    Thanks Again!!

    Posted May 23, 2007 @ 1:55 am
  12. John says:

    Thanks for providing us with this information!!

    Your the Best!

    Posted September 28, 2007 @ 7:13 am
  13. D. Greene says:

    I am running Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 2 and I was not able to find the WindowsUpdate folder in the registry as suggested in the MSDN blog post which I apparently have to register for just to comment. I am resigned to simply shutting down all the processes I’m running and going away for a minute. I assume the update being foisted on me right now has to do with IE 7 and the recent Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF exploit.

    Posted October 10, 2007 @ 2:22 am
  14. Allen says:

    I also didn’t see that WindowsUpdate folder. I just made a new one and we’ll see what happens.

    Posted November 10, 2007 @ 7:33 am
  15. herb says:

    I wanna Mac !!!!!!

    Posted March 21, 2008 @ 3:39 am
  16. WTH says:

    Where the hell is that standard dialog giving me choice to restart now or later?? This is absurd!

    Posted February 11, 2009 @ 9:21 am

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