Configure Windows Updates using Registry in Windows Server

When you are on a network, you would want total control of other Windows computers on the network and hence would want to configure Windows Updates in a way that only you can access the settings. People may turn off or delay Windows Updates that might be against your wish. If you are the administrator, this article can help you configure Windows Server systems without using the Group Policy editor –  rather by configuring it using the Windows Registry editor.

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How to configure Windows Update on Windows Server

The main keys pertaining to Windows Update on Server 2003 and 2008 R2 are as follows:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Internet Communication Management\Internet Communication
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\WindowsUpdate
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU

You have to use the keys within these paths to configure Windows Updates in a manner you want so that users may or may not have access to Windows Updates. In most cases, you would want sole control and will want to remove user access to Windows Updates. The following are few examples of how to configure Windows update on server.

Under the following key, you can find DisableWindowsUpdateAccess entry that deals with whether or not to provide users with access to Windows Updates in control panel:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate

A value of 1 will disable the access or if you wish users to access the Windows update feature, use 0. If you are using 0, you might want to elevate users so that they can install updates on the machine. In that case, you have to change the value of ElevateNonAdmins to 1.

Disable Windows Update links on Internet Explorer in Windows Server

Using the same registry method, you can disable Internet Explorer from opening Windows Update feature. Move to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Here, look for NoWindowsUpdate Dword.

To disable access to Windows Updates for people on Internet Explorer, change the value of the DWORD to 1. This will prevent users from accessing even the Windows Update website.

Disable Windows Server Update Services Internet Communications Access

You can use the registry editor to manage WSUS as well. For disabling the access to Windows Update on Windows Server systems, navigate to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Internet Communication Management\Internet Communication

Here, look for DisableWindowsUpdateAccess DWORD. Set the value to 1 to disable access to Windows Update. This will turn off all access to the Windows Update features on the user machines. Even the site of Windows Update is blocked so browsers, including Internet Explorer, cannot use it to update the individual computers until you want to.

Making mistakes while dealing with Windows Registry can cause system failure. Please back up the Registry before making changes to the system.

For more information on using the Registry Editor to configure Windows Update on Windows Server, check out this Technet page.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN