Windows update registry keys

by admin on April 4, 2012

In one of the previous articles Turn on/off Windows updates, we have explained how to enable/disable windows automatic updates and the impact of each setting. In this post we take you through the registry settings windows provides for configuring auto updates.

Location of Windows updates registry keys

The registry keys that control Windows update settings are located in the below registry key.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update

This key has several registry values under it. Out of these, the following values we would be interested in.

  • AUOptions
  • IncludeRecommendedUpdates
  • ElevateNonAdmins

Let’s look at each of these registry values and see how they impact windows update behavior.


This one decides whether auto update should be enabled or not. If enabled, how should the downloads be installed on the system. It can take the values 0,1,2 and 3.  The behavior for each of the values is as below.

0 : Auto updates are enabled and the downloaded updates will be installed immediately.

1 :  Automatic updates feature will be disabled. Windows will not check if there are any new updates for installation. However, users can manually initiate update.

2 : Check for updates, do not download them until user says so.

3 : Download the updates but do not install.


This registry value controls whether Microsoft’s recommended updates should also be included in addition to the important updates. If this is not set, only important (i.e essential) updates will be downloaded and installed. Value of ‘1’ indicates that the option set where as value of ‘0’ indicates that the option is not set.


This registry value controls whether updates can be installed from non-admin privileged user accounts. If a non-admin user is logged in to system, and if Windows detects that there are some updates available, then setting upon the registry key, updates will be downloaded and installed on the system.

 How to find the last time updates were installed on my Windows computer?

You can find the last updates installation time from the registry value ‘LastSuccessTime’ under the below registry key

‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update\Results\Install’

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