Tech Q&A

Question: I schedule Windows 10 to install updates during my off-hours. But, prior to installing the update, my PC slows to a crawl. I can only speed it up again by allowing the update to install right away, which forces the PC to restart while I’m trying to work.

Is there any way I can prevent this from happening? — B.S., Mendota Heights, Minn.

Answer: I think your PC is being slowed by the download of a Windows 10 update, which could take awhile to complete. During that time, the download process will use some of your PC’s processor time and computer chip memory, taking those resources away from other programs running on your PC and slowing them down.

That means your current strategy — delaying the installation of Windows 10 updates until after working hours — isn’t enough. You need to delay both the download and the installation of those updates until after working hours. Windows 10 allows you to do something close to that.

In Settings, you can pick one of two ways to defer downloads for multiple days: A preset seven-day deferral period, which starts when you click the command, or a customized deferral of up to 35 days, which starts when you select a future calendar date. In either case, you must accept downloads once the deferral period ends.

Here’s the limitation. While you can set a specific time of day to install a Windows update (thus avoiding working hours), you can only specify a calendar date for deferring downloads. I suggest picking a download date that falls on a weekend, or some other day that you won’t need the PC.

To set this up, go to Start and click on Settings. In the resulting menu, click on “Update & Security.” You’ll be taken to the Windows Update menu, where you’ll see the option to “pause updates for 7 days.” Click on it.

Alternatively, scroll down on the same menu to “advanced options.” Click on that, and in the next menu scroll down to “pause updates.” Click the drop-down menu next to “select date” and specify a date that falls within the next 35 days. There are two things to remember: To make this work, you’ll need to leave the PC running on the date the download is scheduled to occur. And, to make it work in the future, you’ll need to repeat these steps after every download of a Windows update. That’s because Windows won’t “remember” how many days of delay you want before the next update is downloaded.

One more thing: To minimize the disruption to your work life, I recommend that you use Settings to specify that updates should be installed soon after they are downloaded. That should cause both the download and the installation of the update to occur on the date you choose, freeing up your PC to run at normal speed the rest of the time. To do that, go to the top of the “advanced options” menu and go to the third item, “restart this device as soon as possible when a restart is required to install an update.” Click the slider switch to turn this option on.

Note: There may be times when it’s harmful to defer the download of a Windows 10 update. For example, if you read in the news about a hacker attack on Windows that exploits some previously undiscovered flaw, you should turn off any delay in getting updates. That’s because Microsoft might try to quickly correct the vulnerability via a special Windows 10 download. To turn off either the seven-day or the up-to-35-day delay in downloads, go back to the Windows Update menu in Settings and click “resume updates.”