Windows 10 will keep you safe and secure by applying updates automatically. Typically, users schedule “active hours,” so Windows 10 doesn’t install updates at inconvenient times. Will Windows 10 update if a PC is asleep? Technically, no.
Windows 10 Wakes Your Sleeping PC to Update
When your Windows 10 PC goes into sleep mode, it saves the current system state and stores that information into memory. The PC then goes into low-power mode, shutting mostly everything down save for the RAM sticks.
What happens next depends on your PC, its active power profile, and wake timers. The latter is your PC’s “alarm clock” within Windows 10 that pulls it out of sleep.
If you’re on a laptop, wake timers can be disabled while running solely on a battery. That means your laptop definitely won’t wake to update and overheat while stuffed in a bag. Plug the computer in, and it will likely wake only for important scheduled tasks.
Go into the power options where you’ll see three wake timer settings: Disable, Enable, and “Important Wake Timers Only.” System updates are one of many scheduled tasks that fall under that “important” umbrella.
You can also determine which tasks jolt your PC awake using the PowerShell, Event Viewer, and Task Scheduler.
Prevent Windows 10 from Waking by Disabling Wake Timers
Windows 10 provides the means to stop automatic updates while it sleeps, it’s just not apparent. Go into Settings > Update & Security > Advanced Options, and all you will find are settings to delay and pause “feature” and “quality” updates.
You can disable wake timers altogether so that nothing wakes your PC—not even drive scans or antivirus sweeps. As previously stated, this setting resides within your power plan listed in the Control Panel.
First, type “Control Panel” in the taskbar’s search field and select the resulting Control Panel desktop app. Select the “System and Security” option in the following window.
Next, under “Power Options,” click the “Change When the Computer Sleeps” link.
Select the “Change Advanced Power Settings” link in the next window.
The Power Options pop-up panel appears. Click the “+” next to “Sleep” in the list to expand this setting. After that, click the “+” next to “Allow Wake Timers” to expand this setting.
On a desktop, a single setting might say “Enable” or “Important Wake Timers Only” by default. Click this setting and select “Disable” in the drop-down menu.
On laptops, you should see two specific settings: “On Battery” and “Plugged In.” Select “Disable” for both.
Windows Update Won’t Wake Your PC from Hibernate
A hibernating PC won’t wake to update. It’s powered off, as hibernate is a deeper version of sleep mode that saves the current system state to the local hard drive or SSD, not the memory. The only difference between this mode and fully shutting down your PC is that apps, programs, and files remain open after waking from hibernation.
If you want to control how your PC hibernates, we have a guide for that, too. In summary, this setting resides in the Sleep section under Power Options. The path to this panel is Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Edit Plan Settings > Change Advanced Power Settings.
For desktop, you’ll see a “Hibernate After” setting. You can set it to “Never,” enter a specific time in minutes using the arrow buttons, or manually enter numbers with a keyboard.
On laptops, you might see hibernate enabled by default to conserve the battery charge. You’ll find the same “Hibernate After” entry broken into two settings: “On Battery” and “Plugged In.” Again, you can choose when hibernation begins—if at all—by entering the time in minutes.
A hibernate option is also located in the “Battery” section under “Power Options” on laptops. It’s one of three choices for the “Critical Battery Action” setting.
If your PC doesn’t have hibernation enabled, check out our guide to re-enable this mode in Windows 8 and Windows 10.