How to control when Windows 10 restarts for an update

If you have Windows 10 and you haven’t yet received the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (Win 10 AU), you may be in for a nasty surprise soon when you turn on your PC.  You may find it takes a long time to start.  I know someone who had to wait two hours for his computer to startup when Microsoft was doing the automatic update.  Two of my four Windows 10 PCs have gotten the update so far.  One took nearly a half hour to boot and the other took an hour and a quarter.

After the update is installed, your boot times will probably be normal, but when the update is being installed, it can take hours before it boots.  This could be a very nasty surprise if you need your computer quickly but can’t logon.

There’s no way to know when you’ll get the update.  Two of my four PCs have not yet gotten it.  They could get it tonight or maybe not for weeks.  When it’s time, your computer will be scheduled for an update – in my case it was 3:30am the next day.  If your computer is on at that time, the update will take place.  If the computer is not on, then it will happen the next time to start it.  That’s when you get the nasty surprise that you won’t have access to your computer for up to an hour or two, depending on how fast your computer is.

The following shows you ways to control when your Windows 10 PC restarts itself for any update, not just Window 10 AU.

Ways to avoid a long start time for the Windows 10 AU

The Windows Update panel provides ways to control when the update will occur.  To get to the Windows Update panel, left clicking the Start button, then selecting Settings, and then selecting Updates & Security in the popup panel. It’s the last entry, so if you have a small screen, you may have to scroll down to it.

  1. Tell Windows to notify you before doing any updates. Click Advanced Options in the Windows Update panel.  Click the box below Choose how updates are installed.  The default is Automatic.  If you change it to Notify to restart, then it will notify you before doing a reboot for an upgrade.
  2. Don’t turn your computer off.  The update will probably happen at night and shouldn’t affect your daytime access to the computer  (I haven’t yet tried this to confirm it).
  3.  Defer upgrades (available only on Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions,  This iss not available for Windows 10 Home).  Under Advanced Options, put a check mark next to Defer upgrades. This allows you to defer all non-security upgrades for several months.
  4. Schedule a specific restart time.  This is only available if Windows is ready to install an update.  To find out whether an update is scheduled, go to the Windows Update panel and click Check for updates.  It will search for updates and then either display “Your device is up to date.” or it will list updates that are scheduled.

If you see A restart has been scheduled, you will also see the following:

This is where you change the time of a computer restart for a pending update.
This is where you change the time of a computer restart for a pending update.

 

This gives you the option of either allowing it to restart automatically at the scheduled time, or specifying your own restart time, or making it restart immediately.  It’s not possible to defer the restart.for more than 24 hours.

If Windows 10 AU is scheduled to install, then you’ll see the following under the updates: “Feature update to Windows 10, version 1607”.  Currently this is the only one I’m aware of that might cause your computer to take several hours to reboot.

 

How to change your Windows 10 default browser

This post is very different from what I planned to write. I thought I was going to write about how easy it is to change your default browser on Windows 10. I’ve heard people complain about their default browser being changed when they upgraded to Win 10 and about some people having trouble resetting it to their preferred browser.

It seemed simple enough until I tried to change the default browser on my main Windows 10 machine. I couldn’t change it! Even more surprising, I found I had the same problem on two of my four Windows 10 computers.

Changing your default browser should be easy. First I’ll show you how it should be done. In case it doesn’t work for you, a little further down I’ll show how I solved the problem on my computers.

The Change Default Apps window after Chome has been set as default browser
The Change Default Apps window after Chome has been set as default browser

The default browser in Windows 10 is Edge. It is a replacement for Internet Explorer that you remember from previous Windows versions. I prefer Google’s Chrome browser. You might prefer Firefox or Opera. The procedure for changing the default browser is the same for all of them.
1. Left click the Start button (the Windows icon at the bottom left of your screen) and the click Settings. Alternately you can click the Windows key on your keyboard (it has the Windows symbol).
2. In the Setting popup, click System
3. Scroll down to Default apps
4. On the right side, under Choose default apps, scroll down to Web browser. The current default browser is displayed below it. If you haven’t changed it in the past, it should show Microsoft Edge. Click the browser name and you’ll get a list of browsers currently installed on your computer. Click the one you want. The name should now appear under Web Browser. If it doesn’t, then proceed to the workaround below.
5. Exit Settings.

Workaround
The above method is the official way of changing your default browser. It worked for me when I initially upgraded to Win 10 on all four PCs, but it no longer works on the two that I use daily. I’ve found fixes on the web that people claimed worked, but they did not work for me.

The Change Default Apps window scrolled down to Se Defaults By App option
The Change Default Apps window scrolled down to Se Defaults By App option

This is the method that works for me. The first three steps are identical to the official method. The fourth step is different.
1. Left click the Start button (the Windows icon at the bottom left of your screen) and the click Settings. Alternately you can click the Windows key on your keyboard (it has the Windows symbol).
2. In the Setting popup, click System
3. Scroll down to Default apps
4. On the right side, under Choose default apps, scroll down all the way to the bottom, to Set defaults by app. The current default browser is displayed below it. If you haven’t changed it in the past, it should show Microsoft Edge. Click the browser name and you’ll get a list of browsers currently installed on your computer. Click the one you want. The name should now appear under Web Browser. If it doesn’t, then proceed to the workaround below.

Choose Default Programs window showing Google Crhome options
Choose Default Programs window showing Google Crhome options

5. The Set Default Programs window opens. Scroll down to the name of the installed browser you want to use. In my case, it was Google Chrome.
6. Two links will appear on the bottom right side of the window: Set this program as default and Choose defaults for this program. Most people should probably select Set this program as default, Click one and then click OK.
7. Exit Settings. The browser you select should now appear under Web Browser in the Choose default apps window.

I can’t guarantee this method will work for you, but it did work on both of my computers.

What causes the problem?
I don’t yet know. The differences between the two machines that have the problem and the two machines that don’t might offer a clue. Win 10 was installed on all of them by upgrade rather than clean install, so that’s not a difference.

The two machines with the problem are the machines I use most. I use both of them every day and am on one of them all day. The two computers without the problem are used only occasionally. One possiblity is that the problem is more likely to occur the more you use your computer.

One other possibility is related to the CPU and RAM. The two computers that have the problem both have i7 CPUs (i7-950 and i7-4770) with 24GB and 32GB of RAM. The two computers that don’t have the problem have slower CPUs (Core 2 Duo and Atom) with much less RAM. It’s possible that the problem happens with faster computers with more RAM, but so far this is only speculation based solely on my four Windows 10 computers.

Major bug in Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Microsoft has begun rolling out its Windows 10 Anniversary Update.  It contains some significant changes and additions, but also has a bug that causes some PCs to freeze.  If you experience the bug, the only easy current fix is to roll back to the previous Win 10 version, but this can only be done within ten days of when your PC received the Anniversary Update.  There is another fix that I’ll discuss further down, but it’s not easy and for many PCs will be impossible.

Who’s affected?
The good news is that only a small minority of Win 10 computers will experience the problem.  If you’ve bought a standard desktop PC from a major manufacturer and you haven’t modified it, you’re not likely to be affected.  The only computers that experience the problem seem to be those that have Windows installed on a solid-state drive (SSD) and have programs, apps, and data installed on a separate drive.  If you have the standard configuration of having everything on a single hard drive, it shouldn’t affect you.

The reasons that people install programs and apps on a separate drive are typically either because they are using a small SSD for their Windows drive or for greater performance.

How do I know if my PC has received the Anniversary Update?
You can tell by the Windows 10 Version number.  The Anniversary Update Version is 1607.  The previous Version is 1511.  The Version indicates the year and the month it was released.  Version 1511 was released in November 2015 and Version 1607 was released in July 2016.

You can see your Version number by left clicking the Start Button and then clicking Settings, then About (at the bottom of the list).  This will display the Version number as well as your PC name, organization, processor, RAM, and other system information

How do I know if my computer has the problem?
The reports I’ve read indicate that the problem occurs when you click the Start Menu or you start an application from the taskbar (the bar at the bottom of your screen).  If it happens, the only way to start Windows will be to go into Safe Mode, but you are very limited in what you can do in Safe Mode.

How to fix the problem it’s less than ten days since receiving the Anniversary Update
You can solve the problem by going back to the previous Win 10 version (1511) by one of two methods, the Recovery Console and Safe Mode.

Recovery console:

  1. Restart your PC and go to the Login Screen
  2. Hold down the Shift Key and press the onscreen power button
  3. When the PC restarts, click Troubleshoot, then click Advanced Options, then click Go back to the previous build (if you don’t see this option, try the Safe Mode method).

Safe Mode

  1. Restart your PC and go to the Login Screen
  2. Hold down the Shift Key and press the onscreen power button
  3. When the PC restarts, click Troubleshoot, then click Advanced Options, then click Startup Settings, then click Restart
  4. When the PC restarts, click F4 or item 4 on the menu
  5. Open Settings
  6. Select Update & Security, then select the Recovery tab
  7. Under “Go back to an earlier build”, click the Get started button and follow the instructions.

If neither of these methods work, then ten or more days may have passed since receiving the Anniversary Update.  You will have to try the fix in the following paragraph.  You should also visit the Microsoft link at the end of this post for more information.

More than ten days have passed since my Anniversary Update.  What are my options?
Your only option will be to move your programs, apps, and data onto the SSD that Windows 10 is installed on.  This can be done in Safe Mode, but can be a huge amount of work and will be impossible if you don’t have adequate space on your SSD.

Microsoft Information
For more information, visit this Microsoft page: answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-performance/windows-10-may-freeze-after-installing-the/5a60d75d-120a-4502-873c-8bfec65c82d0?page=1&auth=1.  You can get updates by clicking Subscribe on that page (located above “All replies”).  The page includes the following statement:

“We ask for your patience while we continue our investigation and please check back on this thread for an update.

“If you are experiencing this issue and are interested in working with our support agents to help participate in the investigation, please reply to this thread and let us know that you’d like to help.  One of our agents may contact you via a private message.”

My experience
So far none of my Win 10 computers have received the Anniversary Update, so I have no experience with either the bug or the Anniversary Update.  I’ll post an update if I experience the bug or learn more that may help you.

Introduction

Welcome to Marin Computer Tutor.  In this blog, I’ll be sharing computer tips that should help you in maintaining your computer and keeping it safe from malware and attackers.

My specialty is teaching adults, including senior citizens.  I’ve been a Marin County resident for over four decades, a computer professional since 1980, and I’ve been teaching computer and Native American history classes in community education since 2009.  My professional experience consists mostly of software and web development, but in recent years I’ve also been building OpenSimulator virtual worlds.  I’ve also been building and repairing PCs for over two decades.

In my free time, I love hiking and mountain biking.  I’ve been a volunteer at Point Reyes’ Kule Loklo Indian village since 1993 and I’m on the board of directors of the Miwok Archeological Preserve of Marin (MAPOM).  For two decades and directed and produced community television at the old Comcast studio and at the Community Media Center of Marin.  In the 1980s I was on the first board of directors of the old Bicycle Trails Council of Marin.

For people who want additional help, this blog will also keep you posted about my upcoming community education classes here in Marin County, in San Anselmo, and I’ll be sharing occasional thoughts.  If you need more individual guidance, I also offer tutoring services.  Click on the Tutoring tab for more information.