How to keep your computer from downloading Windows 10 files without permission

For many Windows users, a free upgrade to Windows 10 is welcome news. Reviewers have lauded the newest Microsoft OS for its sharp design, greatly improved apps, snappier performance and more. Plus “free” is a great price for any major system update.

But for users who simply aren’t interested in the upgrade, the picture is less rosy. This week, Microsoft admitted that Windows 7 and Windows 8 users who ignore requests to upgrade may simply get Windows 10 dumped onto their system anyway.

“For individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they’ll need if they decide to upgrade,” Microsoft told the Inquirer. “When the upgrade is ready, the customer will be prompted to install Windows 10 on the device.”

This means that even if your computer isn’t actually running Windows 10, Microsoft may be quietly downloading Windows 10 files to your hard drive without your knowledge in anticipation of a future upgrade. Aside from seeming a bit pushy, this move is a real concern for anyone on a metered internet connection (such as Exede), since the Windows 10 download can be as big as a full-length HD movie.

Fortunately, websites including Lifehacker and Ghacks have found a way to block the update — at least for now. Before you begin, remember that if you change your mind and want to make the leap to Windows 10 later, you’ll have to go back and undo these steps.

But if you’re sure, here’s how to block forced Windows 10 updates:

  1. Open the Start Menu and search for “Programs and features”
  2. Select “view installed updates” on the left side of the window
  3. If you’re on Windows 7: locate the following updates: 3035583, 2952664, 3021917
  4. If you’re on Windows 8: locate the following updates: 3035583, 2976978
  5. Right-click each update and select uninstall
  6. When the prompt appears, select Restart Later
  7. Restart your computer when you’ve finished these steps for each update.

Once you’ve finished the first process, you’ll need to stop Windows from simply installing the updates again. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Search for “Windows Update” in the Start Menu.
  2. Choose “check for updates.” Windows should find the same numbered updates from above.
  3. Click on “important update is available”
  4. Right-click each of the updates above and select “Hide update”

This should help prevent Microsoft from downloading gigs of data to your machine when you’re not expecting it.

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