03/12/09 261 W, 1 I - + 14 - 11 Windows Computer Restarts Overnight

Here's the problem, your Windows XP computer restarts overnight. Not every night. Not even every week. Just once in a proverbial blue moon, when your groggy self schleps to the computer room, and is greeted by a logon screen. Virus? Malware? Uncle Fester escaped again from attic? Nope, just a regular ol' Windows automatic update.


Here's how to diagnose:

  1. Open your Control Panel.
  2. Open Administrative Tools.
  3. Open Event Viewer.
  4. Click a category in the left pane.
  5. The Event Viewer displays.
  6. Click using your secondary mouse button (e.g., right click) on any event in the right pane, and choose Properties.
  7. The Information Properties window displays.
  8. Click the up or down arrow to step through the event messages.
  9. If you see the following types of event message, then Windows automatic update is the culprit:
    Restart Required: To complete the installation of the following updates, the computer will be restarted within 5 minutes:
    - Security Update for Windows XP (KB932168)
    - Security Update for Windows XP (KB930178)
    - Update for Outlook 2003 Junk Email Filter (KB932330)
    - Security Update for Windows XP (KB931261)
    - Security Update for Windows XP (KB931784)

To change Windows automatic update settings:

  1. On your Desktop, click your secondary mouse button (e.g., right click) on the My Computer icon, and choose Properties.
  2. The Systems Properties window displays.
  3. Click the Automatic Updates tab.
  4. The Automatic Updates tab displays.
  5. If the Automatic setting is checked, click and change to another setting, such as Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them.

the same thing happened to me when i was working on the computer yesterday – without warning, my program shuts down and the computer reboots – making the change right away – thanks mike!
cornerupdate - 03/12/09 - 18:58

Leaving a computer on is does nothing but waste energy which means higher electric bill. It also subjects your computer to hackers. A hacker wants nothing to do with a computer that is only on when in use.
RescueRanger - 03/12/09 - 21:35

go into control panel, network settings, right click on whichever connection type you are using (wireless or lan) and create an icon on the desktop – use that icon to connect and disconnect – immediately disconnect from the internet after checking e-mail and taking care of online business – never leave an internet connection open all the time – as rescue says, it’s asking for trouble
cornerhydrant - 03/12/09 - 23:03

control panel/power options – display to sleep at 15 minutes, computer to sleep at 30 (this is default on mine)
cornerhydrant - 03/12/09 - 23:09

Or, equally as plausible, Windows has had a fatal error and would have shown you a blue screen of death but the OS is set to reboot whenever a BSOD occurs, so you never actually see it.

On XP you can right-click My Computer, select Properties, go to the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Startup/Recovery box and and uncheck the box marked Automatically Restart.
Paul - 03/13/09 - 19:37

great tip! made the change right away – this explains a lot of restarts when i was not connected
cornerhydrant - 03/13/09 - 20:24

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