While Windows driver updates are meant to be helpful, sometimes they just cause chaos with your hardware instead. You can turn off automatic driver updates in Windows using several different methods.
Note: some methods use the Group Policy Editor. This is not available in the Windows Home edition, only Professional and higher. However, there is a way to enable the local Group Policy Editor if you’re an administrator.
How to Hide Windows Driver Updates
If you plan to eventually install Windows driver updates, hide them temporarily. You can choose to unhide the updates when you’re ready to install later on, or never. There are several ways to do this. If you want to permanently disable driver updates in Windows for all devices or just a specific device, skip to those sections.
Windows lets you pause all available updates for up to five weeks. During this time, you can choose individual updates to install, if you want. This will pause all updates, including driver updates.
Go to “Start -> Settings -> Windows Update.”
Choose how long you want to pause updates from the “Pause updates” drop-down box.
This method is temporary. After the five weeks are up, Windows will install all available updates, including driver updates.
Tip: check out these essential PowerShell commands you need to know.
If you know the name of the update you want to hide, you can use PowerShell to hide it. Luckily, you can also get a list of available updates within PowerShell.
Follow our guide to enable PowerShell to hide updates and learn how to hide specific updates.
Microsoft’s Hide Update Tool
As a word of caution, sometimes Microsoft removes this tool randomly. In addition, Microsoft will be retiring this tool and other troubleshooters in future Windows 11 releases. Also, some users have reported it doesn’t work, while others have no issues with it. We’ve personally used it to hide specific updates, including graphics drivers and a few buggy feature updates (until they were fixed).
Download wushowhide.diagcab from Microsoft, and run the utility.
Click “Next” to start the tool. Wait for Windows to detect updates that can be hidden.
Select “Hide updates.” The first time you run this, you may just get a list of updates. If so, skip the next step.
Check the update(s) you want to hide. Optional updates aren’t listed here. Click “Next.”
You can rerun the tool at any time, and select “Show hidden updates” to select the ones you’d like to install.
Tip: learn how to roll back a driver if it starts acting up after an update.
How to Completely Disable Driver Updates in Windows
If you want to do more than hide driver updates, there are once again several options to do so. These range from editing the registry to using the Group Policy editor. All allow you to reverse the process to re-enable automatic driver updates.
Open the Start menu, and search for “control panel.” Click the result on the right.
Select “System and Security.” If you don’t see this, change the view at the top right to “Category.”
Select “System.” Depending on your version of Windows, either this will take you to Windows Settings, or you’ll stay inside the Control Panel. In Windows 11, this jumps you into Windows Settings.
Click “Advanced system settings.” This option will appear in the Control Panel in some versions of Windows.
In the “Hardware” tab, select “Device Installation Settings.”
Click “No (your device might not work as expected)” then “Save changes,” to save your preferences. On some versions of Windows, you’ll see “No, let me choose what to do.” If so, select “Never install driver software from Windows Update.”
If you’d prefer to bypass the Control Panel and jump straight to the System Properties window, do the following:
Press Win + R, type
sysdm.cpl, and click “OK.”
Once you’re in the System Properties window, follow the instructions above to disable driver updates.
FYI: learn how to reset Group Policy settings in Windows.
Group Policy Editor
Press Win +R to open the Run dialog box. Type
gpedit.msc, and press “OK.”
In the left pane, expand “Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Update -> Manage updates offered from Windows Update.”
Right-click “Do not include drivers with Windows Updates,” and select “Edit.”
Click the “Enable” option, and select “Apply.”
Even if you’re comfortable editing the Windows registry, it’s still a good idea to back it up before you make any changes. Follow our guide to backing up and restoring the Windows Registry before proceeding. When everything’s backed up, it’s time to stop automatic driver updates in Windows using the Registry Editor.
Press Win + R, and type
regedit. Click “OK” to open the Registry Editor.
In the left pane, expand the following: “Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\DriverSearching.”
Right-click “SearchOrderConfig” in the “DriverSearching” folder. Select “Modify.”
Change the value to “0.” If you need to re-enable updates at some point, change the value back to “1.” Press “OK” to save your changes, and exit the Registry Editor.
Tip: seeing an NVIDIA GeForce Experience driver download error in Windows? Learn what to do.
How to Block Driver Updates for a Specific Device
Sometimes, letting Windows update drivers automatically will be okay, except for a specific device. If Windows keeps replacing your manufacturer driver with a generic Windows one, though, you can block automatic driver updates for specific devices.
At the time of writing, you can still use Microsoft’s Hide Update Tool mentioned above. Since it may not always be available, there are a few other ways to block individual driver updates.
Remember, you can also use PowerShell to block some updates, but not necessarily by device. See the “How to Hide Windows Driver Updates” section for more details.
Find the Device ID
First, you need to know the device ID of the device that will have its drivers blocked. You’ll need it in the next sections.
Press Win + X, and select “Device Manager.”
Right-click your device. I’m using my mouse as an example. Select “Properties.”
Open the “Details” tab. Select “Hardware Ids” from the drop-down list.
Copy the IDs in the list to Notepad or another text editor. Click inside the “Value” box, and press Ctrl + A to select all, then press Ctrl + C to copy them. Finally, press Ctrl + V to paste them into your text editor.
Exit all the Device Manager windows before continuing.
Tip: check out how to stop all Windows updates.
Open Local Group Policy Editor
Please note that if you block updates this way, you can’t manually update the driver either. You’ll need to remove the IDs from the list, perform the update manually, then re-block them.
Open the Local Group Policy Editor as shown above.
Expand “Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> Device Installation -> Device Installation Restrictions.”
Right-click “Prevent installation of devices that match any of these device IDs,” and select “Edit.” Or, double-click it.
Click “Enable” and the “Show” button under “Options.”
Copy each of the hardware IDs that you saved earlier into the box. You’ll need to do them one at a time. Press “OK” when you’re done.
Press “Apply” on the next screen to save your changes. Exit the remaining windows.
Tip: PC getting cluttered? Learn how to free up space on your “C:” drive.
Additional Things to Consider
If you’re having trouble with drivers updating and devices not working properly, it’s a good idea to block driver updates. However, you still need to update your device drivers regularly. If you don’t, devices may not work as well or at all, as Windows releases new features and OS updates.
Depending on the device itself, updating drivers can improve your PC performance. For instance, updating your graphics card driver helps improve your gaming experience. If you’re noticing performance problems after turning off automatic driver updates in Windows, start updating your drivers manually, or turn on automatic driver updates, and just block the problematic ones.
In the case of Windows using a generic or even a completely wrong driver, it’s better to do it manually than have the wrong driver.
Optimizing Your PC Experience
After taking charge of how Windows updates your drivers, you may also want to take a moment to get rid of old, outdated, and useless drivers that aren’t being used anymore. If you’re trying to manually update drivers, you may encounter issues with AMD drivers. Learn how to fix those issues with these tips.
All images and screencaps by Crystal Crowder.
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