Microsoft has been ambitious in attempting to ensure that computers running Windows 7 and Windows 8 are upgraded to Windows 10 - here are a few different ways to block any unwanted and unasked for upgrades on your computer.
Whether you're computer has been suddenly (and unwittingly) upgraded to Windows 10, the upgrade logo in the system notification tray is bothersome, or you want to make sure that you won't be upgraded to Windows 10 unless and until you decide to, here are some tools and tips to give you what you need. Note: If you have Windows 7 or 8.1 Enterprise edition, normally used in businesses, none of the following information applies. :)
Blocking Windows 10 Upgrades Using the Registry
This terrific article by perennial favorite Ed Bott has directions for manually editing the registry to block upgrades. If you're not comfortable editing the registry manually there are links to downloadable .reg files that make the changes for you, just right click on the files and select "merge" on the downloaded file. Directions for undoing these changes are included if you decide you want to upgrade, but will have to be done manually. This method has minimal impact on your computer. As always, I recommend backing up the registry before making any changes. To make a registry back up, run Regedit, click on File, then on Export, give the file a name, and save the file where you can easily find it again if you need it.
Blocking Upgrades with Programs
There are a handful of programs available that will block upgrades, the two I like are easy to use and as far as I know have no issues or problems with Windows 7 or 8.
GWX Control Panel
I've been running GWX Control Panel for some months on my Windows computers and the systems I'm responsible for. To date there haven't been any issues. There's a portable version of the program though I use the installed version and chose to have it run in the background because I like keeping it updated and don't want to do it manually.
What it does: removes the "Get Windows 10" icon that appears in your notification area, prevents Windows Update control panel from upgrading your computer to Windows 10, prevents your computer from secretly downloading Windows 10 installation files, detects and removes the hidden Windows 10 installation files if they're already on your PC, optionally monitors your computer for unwanted Windows 10-related settings and files, and beginning with version 1.7 you can delete some hard-to-remove program files that are known to cause Windows 10 upgrades and annoyances.
There's also the option to re-enable the icon and upgrade notifications if you're ever ready to move forward with Windows 10.
Loads of information, details and directions at the program's website.
Runs on Windows 7 and 8. The install version of the program was free of viruses or malware at time of installation according to VirusTotal.
Never 10 by GRC (Gibson Research Corporation)
This is a new tool created by Steve Gibson of GRC, whose been crafting useful and timely Windows programs for many years. One of the things I found useful about this program is that due to a recent hard drive crash and reformat, Windows Updates arrive in small batches, so my system hadn't had a chance to download any Windows 10 related updates. Never 10 detected that I didn't have the Windows Update that would allow the “upgrade disable” option, so it installed and disabled the upgrade.
What it does: Never 10 utility does not install ANY software of its own. If the system being configured has a version of Windows Update which is older than the required July 2015 release—which would mean that the “upgrade disable” options are not yet present—the utility will notify its user and offer to download and install the required update to Windows Update so that Windows can then be configured not to upgrade itself to Windows 10. If Microsoft's GWX (Get Windows 10) had already secretly and silently downloaded the Windows 10 files into a hidden directory (this can be squatting on more than 6.5 gigabytes of your hard drive space), Never10 will show the exact count and amount of files and allow its user to remove them with one click. Full command-line control for corporate deployment. Complete details and directions on the program are at the site.
Runs on Windows 7 and 8. The program was free of viruses or malware at time of installation according to VirusTotal.
First aid for forced Windows 10 upgrades
Detecting and preventing forced Windows 10 upgrades. and what to do if a forced Windows 10 upgrade failed.
How to roll back your Windows 10 upgrade
Want to get back to your Windows 7 or 8? Here's how, with a good description of issues you might encounter. Note that roll backs need to be done within 30 days of a Windows 10 upgrade.
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