How to schedule downloads and updates

11th June 2020

Waiting for updates and downloads can interrupt your day at the best of times. But right now, with people working and schooling from home what would usually be only mildly frustrating can become a major issue. Perhaps you have an important video conference to attend just as your computer is trying to run an update, perhaps you want to make the most of faster speeds when other users aren’t online, or perhaps you benefit from unlimited night-time data.

Either way, taking control of when updates and downloads happen will save you time and allow you to work, school or simply browse the internet more smoothly.

Scheduling updates

The first thing to do is to check your settings for your active hours. These are the hours when you typically use your device and when it won’t automatically be restarted for updates. Maybe you have shifted your hours recently to accommodate extra childcare need? On Windows you can check and update these by clicking on the Start menu icon and selecting “Settings”. Then click on “Update & Security”. The “Windows Update” screen displays by default. Here you can adjust your active hours.

If you want to check for pending updates, you can do this by following the steps above. The “Windows Update” screen will show you if you have updates available, you can then manually set these to update. To schedule updates for later is a little more involved, but Microsoft have a detailed explanation of how to schedule updates here.

This varies on a Mac, but can still be done, as you can set your Mac to ‘check now’ for automatic updates. It will then check for updates at the same time daily, weekly or monthly depending on your selection. You could stay up late to do this overnight or change the time on your Mac while you do this before changing it back again. There is a more detailed explanation of how to do this here.

Scheduling downloads

There are lots of free tools to manage your downloads available online. We’ve found a neat and up-to-date list of the 10 Best Download Managers for Windows on and recommend you take a look. For Mac users, there is a similarly handy list of the Best Download Managers for Mac OS here.

All have their pro’s and con’s and we’re not affiliated with any of these providers, but if you find yourself frustrated by slow downloads or needing large files that you could download in advance, these tools could take a load off your daytime internet use and let your downloads happen when you’re not in a hurry.

Downloading video and TV content

We recommend PlayOn as a useful tool for our customers. PlayOn is a paid-for app that allows you to download films and TV shows to watch later. With this tool you set content to download overnight so you can watch it the next day without using your priority data allowance. We’ve written about PlayOn previously and you can see our full description here: bigblu recommends PlayOn