How to Enable Active Hours in Windows 10

To control when Windows 10 installs the updates and restart the system, you should enable the Active Hours in Windows 10. Here’s how.

The automatic updates in Windows 10 are pretty helpful. They make sure your machine is up to date and always patched. However, one major downside of automatic updates is that the system might force reboot to complete the update installation. Though not a problem for the vast majority of users, it can be a pain in the neck from time to time. To avoid this kind of behavior you need to turn on the Active Hours feature.

As you can tell from the name itself, Active Hours are hours in which you use the computer. Once enabled, Windows will only install the updates outside the active hours. For example, if you work on your system all day, say from 7 AM to 10 PM, you can set that time range as active hours. Once the active hours are set, Windows will not install the updates until after 10 PM and before 7 AM.

As you can guess, the Active Hours feature is pretty helpful. Especially for home users who generally shut down their system at night time. In this quick and simple guide, let me show you the steps to enable active hours in Windows 10.

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How to enable active hours in Settings

The settings app in Windows 10 has an easy-to-use option to enable and configure active hours. Here’re the steps to follow.

  1. Open the Settings with “Windows Key + I” keyboard shortcut.
  2. Go to the “Update & Security” page.
  3. Select “Windows Update” on the left panel.
  4. Click on the “Change active hours” option on the right panel.
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  5. Turn off “Automatically adjust active hours based on activity” option.
  6. Now, click on the “Change” link.
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  7. In this window, set both Start time and End time for active hours. The active hours are limited to 18 hours max.
  8. Click on the “Save” button.
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  9. Now, turn on the switch under the “Automatically adjust active hours based on activity” option.
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  10. Close the Settings app.
  11. Restart Windows 10.

That is all. You’ve successfully turned on active hours and configured it to restart when you are not using the system.

If you open the Settings app and go to “Update & Security → Windows Security”, you will see current active hours timing under the “Change active hours” option.

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How to enable active hours GPO in Group Policy Editor

You can enable and configure active hours in Group Policy Editor using the turn-off auto-start GPO policy. This is particularly useful if you want to enforce the rules and disallow changes in the Settings app. Keep in mind that the group policy editor is only available for Windows 10 pro and enterprise versions.

Below are the steps to turn on active hours in Group Policy Editor.

  1. Open the Start menu by pressing the “Windows Key”.
  2. Type “Edit Group Policy” in the search bar and select it from the Start menu.
  3. After opening the Group Policy Editor, go to the “Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Windows Update” folder.
    Windows 10 active hours 07
  4. On the right panel, double-click on the “Turn-off auto-restart for updates during active hours” policy.
    Windows 10 active hours 08
  5. In this window, select the “Enabled” option.
  6. Under the options section in the same window, set the Start time and End time using the dropdown menus.
  7. Click “Apply” and “Ok” buttons.
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  8. Close the Group Policy Editor.
  9. Restart Windows to apply the policy settings.

After restarting the system, the Active Hours group policy is applied automatically. From now on, Windows will only restart the system automatically outside the active hours to install updates.

To disable active hours, select “Not configured” in the policy properties window.

How to Turn On Active Hours in Registry

You can enable active hours in Registry Editor or registry key. Backup the Registry and follow the steps listed below.

  1. Open the Start menu by pressing the “Windows Key”.
  2. Type “Registry Editor” and click on it to open.
  3. Now, copy the below registry path.
    HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate
  4. Paste the copied path in the Registry Editor’s address bar and press Enter.
  5. Right-click on the “WindowsUpdate” folder and select “New → Dword (32-bit) Value“.
  6. Name the value as “SetActiveHours“.
  7. Double-click on the “SetActiveHours”
  8. Type “1” in the Value Data field and click “Ok“.
  9. Right-click on the “WindowsUpdate” folder again and select “New → Dword value“.
  10. Name the value as “ActiveHoursStart“.
  11. Double-click on the “ActiveHoursStart” value.
  12. In the Value Data field, type a number between 0 and 23. The number range signifies 24-hours where 0 is 12 AM and 23 is 11 PM. For example, to set the start time to 7 AM, type 7 in the Value Data field.
  13. Click “Ok“.
  14. Right-click on the “WindowsUpdate” folder yet again and select “New → Dword value“.
  15. Name the value as “ActiveHoursEnd“.
  16. Double-click on the “ActiveHoursEnd” value.
  17. In the Value Data field, type a number between 0 and 23. The number range signifies 24-hours where 0 is 12 AM and 23 is 11 PM. For example, to set the end time to 9 PM, type 21 in the Value Data field.
  18. Click “Ok“.
  19. Close the Registry Editor.
  20. Restart Windows.

That is all. You are done creating the registry key to enable active hours. From now on, Windows will automatically restart outside active hours to install Windows updates.

To disable active hours, double-click on the “SetActiveHours” value, type “0” in the Value Data field and click “Ok”. Alternatively, you can also delete all three values.

Wrapping Up

That is it. As you can see, Windows offers several different methods to turn on and off the active hours. Depending on your use case, follow the one you like. That being said, I’d recommend you stick with the first method as it is easy to configure. If you want to enforce the rule then follow the Group Policy method.

Alternatively, you can also completely stop Windows 10 from rebooting to install updates when a user is logged in.

I hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible.

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