How to Stop Windows Update from Installing Driver Updates

Windows Update has the habit of pushing driver updates silently into your system. Sometimes, the drivers offered by Microsoft for your devices may cause problems. It’s always the best idea to only update the drivers directly from the device manufacturer’s site.

In some cases, we may have to roll back the drivers auto-installed by Windows Update. For example, Realtek drivers pushed out by Windows Update caused problems for some users. How to prevent Realtek driver update from automatically installing via Windows Update in the future?

A Redditor explains this issue; After WU installed the Realtek HD audio driver, he uninstalled it and restarted the computer. Windows installed the standard version of the driver after the reboot. However, as Windows Update updated the drivers automatically, the Realtek device malfunctioned and this cycle repeated again and again. Here are some ways to prevent a device driver (e.g., Realtek High Definition Audio drivers) from being updated automatically.

We’ll see how to stop WU from installing driver updates automatically in Windows 11 and Windows 10.

Stop Windows Update from Installing Driver Updates

Method 1: Using the WUShowHide Tool

Step 1: Rollback the Device Driver via Device Manager

First, roll back the driver installed via the Windows Update channel. To roll back the device driver, you have two options. One is to open Device Manager and use the Rollback… option in the device’s properties.

Another option is to perform a System Restore rollback but it may be overkill in such a situation. If Windows doesn’t boot after installing a device driver, see how to Perform System Restore Rollback Offline in Windows 10 via Recovery Options

To rollback a driver using Device Manager, use these steps:

  1. Right-click Start, click Device Manager
  2. Right-click on the device (Intel or Realtek network adapter), and choose Properties
    device manager driver rollback
    device manager driver rollback
  3. Choose one of the reasons listed under “Why are you rolling back?” and choose Yes to continue.
    device manager driver rollback

If a driver that you were offered (and automatically installed) is causing system crashes or instability, and if Windows was operating correctly before that change, you can use the driver rollback method.

Step 2: Block the driver(s) from installing automatically

Should the Windows Update channel repeatedly offer you or install a problematic driver automatically, use the WUShowHide.diagcab tool from Microsoft. This tool blocks a particular driver update from being installed. For more information, check out the Microsoft article How to temporarily prevent a driver update from reinstalling.

You can directly download the WUShowHide.diagcab tool from the following link:

https://download.microsoft.com/download/f/2/2/f22d5fdb-59cd-4275-8c95-1be17bf70b21/wushowhide.diagcab

As a side note, the wushowhide.diagcab tool can even be used to defer/temporarily block Windows 10/11 Feature Updates, not just device drivers. This tool works on all editions of Windows, including Home Edition.

wushowhide.diagcab block driver updates
Block undesired driver updates using WUShowHide Diagnostics Tool from Microsoft.

Pros & Cons of this method:

  • Advantage: This method works on any edition of Windows 10/11, including Home Edition.
  • Disadvantage: If Microsoft releases a different driver version (supersede), you may need to re-do the above steps to hide/block it for future versions of the driver. However, by setting your internet connection to metered, you can prevent updates from being installed automatically, giving you ample time to block specific driver/updates.

Method 2: Using the ExcludeWUDriversInQualityUpdate Policy/GPO

There is a group policy setting named “Do not include drivers with Windows Updates” (registry value “ExcludeWUDriversInQualityUpdate“) that’s supposed to prevent Windows Update from installing driver updates in Windows Professional edition and higher.

To configure this setting in Group Policy, open the following branch in the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc):

Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Windows Update

On Windows 11, you’ll find the GPO setting in this branch instead:

Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Windows Update → Manage updates offered from Windows Update

ExcludeWUDriversInQualityUpdate in windows 11 GPO

Enable the policy “Do not include drivers with Windows Updates” to not include drivers with Windows quality updates. If you disable or do not configure this policy, Windows Update will include updates that have a Driver classification.

Equivalent registry setting:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate

Value Name: ExcludeWUDriversInQualityUpdate
Value Type: REG_DWORD
Value Data: 1 (Exclude Windows Update drivers) | Other value or absent: offer Windows Update drivers

Editor’s note: I’ve personally tested this policy setting on Windows 11 Pro 21H2 (OS Build 22000.194) and it worked perfectly fine. I presume this should work on Windows 10 Pro editions (and higher) as well. Note that the registry-based policy had no effect on Windows 11/10 Home Edition.



ExcludeWUDriversInQualityUpdate in windows 11 GPO
BEFORE:: Driver updates listed on WU page in Windows 11

In the next screenshot, you can see that the 4 driver update packages (Intel, Qualcomm, and Realtek drivers) are now hidden on the Windows Update page.

ExcludeWUDriversInQualityUpdate in windows 11 GPO
AFTER:: Driver updates NOT listed on WU page in Windows 11

The GPO works flawlessly!

tips bulb iconHint: If Windows Update doesn’t refresh the listing even after applying the policy setting, press “Pause updates for 1 week” or “Pause updates for 7 days” button. Then, press the “Resume updates” button (this button will show up on the screen after you pause WU). This force refreshes the Windows Update page.

Pros & Cons of this method:

  • Advantage: This method is a one-time procedure to stop WU from serving/installing driver updates. You don’t need to repeat the procedure for each driver update.
  • Disadvantages: This method requires Windows 10/11 Professional edition or higher. Also, this policy may be ignored when you install a feature update. Feature updates are essentially major upgrades that increment the version of Windows — e.g., 20H2 to 21H2.

You can now install driver updates manually by downloading from the manufacturer’s website. HP/Dell and OEM computer manufacturers usually include a bios/driver updater tool for free.

dell pc-doctor module 100% cpu and memory usage

Installing drivers from the device manufacturer (rather than via WU) is a safer option.


Other Methods to Prevent Automatic Driver Updates

Using the SearchOrderConfig Registry setting

When you add new hardware to your computer, you can stop Windows from searching Windows Update for the drivers. There is a registry setting named SearchOrderConfig.  For more information, check out the article “Windows Update Configured to never install drivers” Detected by Troubleshooter.

Setting the SearchOrderConfig registry value to 0 means Windows will be instructed to “Never install driver software from Windows Update” during new hardware installation.


Deny Write Access to Realtek Folder by SYSTEM

Apart from using wushowhide.diagcab method, here is another permanent method to avoid Realtek drivers from being auto-updated. This, of course, applies only if you have a Realtek network adapter.

  1. First, roll back the Realtek drivers via Device Managers as instructed earlier in the article.
  2. After restarting Windows, open the folder C:\Program Files\Realtek
  3. Right-click the Realtek folder, and click Properties.
  4. Go to the Security tab, and click Advanced
  5. Change all permissions for SYSTEM to “Deny”.
  6. Click OK. Click OK once more.
  7. Restart Windows.

You’re set. And, note that you will be unable to manually install future Realtek drivers unless you revert the permissions back to the way they were.


Set your internet connection to Metered

Setting your internet connection to metered will prevent Windows Update from downloading updates (both, driver and non-drivers) automatically.

WU Pending download on Metered connection
WU Pending download on Metered connection

However, you can see the list of available updates for your device. This will allow you to be able to hide any updates (using the WUShowHide.diagcab tool) you don’t want before they get installed. Note that on metered connections, Windows Spotlight won’t download new wallpapers daily.


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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

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