Disable Adobe Reader XI Updates with Group Policy

01-disable_reader_11_updates-iconLike Adobe Reader X, an installation of Adobe Reader XI can check for updates automatically. In a small environment, this may not be a problem (honestly, I would encourage it!). However, in a larger (typically managed) environment, this can generate unnecessary bandwidth usage, problems when users update their own installs with untested updates, and unnecessary support requests to your Help Desk or IT personnel. Here’s how to disable the Reader XI update checks so that your end users don’t see update notices and can’t manually install updates.

02-disable_reader_11_updates-balloon

Let me start with my standard warning about disabling the update utility for 3rd party software: You still need to update 3rd party software just like you would install monthly updates from Microsoft unless you have a really good reason not to. This tutorial is intended for systems administrators that are using some kind of systems management product for updating 3rd party software like SCCM, Landesk, etc. Many of the security flaws in 3rd party software can lead to malware infections and/or compromised computers. If you disable the update notifications, you still need to keep the software up to date!

This tutorial applies to Adobe Reader XI (32-bit) running on a x86/32-bit version and the x64/64-bit version of Windows.

Disabling the Adobe Reader XI update notifications is actually pretty easy. There’s a registry setting in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE that will allow you to completely disable both update notifications and the update functionality. The full path of the key is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesAdobeAcrobat Reader11.0FeatureLockDown. The registry entry is named bUpdater and is a DWORD value. Setting the value to 0 disables updates. (Note: This DWORD value does not exist by default and either has to be created manually or by some other automated method like Group Policy.) Here’s what it looks like in the Registry if you create the entries manually:

03-disable_reader_11_updates-registry

You could set this manually, but there’s actually a much easier way to do this in Group Policy. First off you’ll need a Group Policy Object (GPO) that applies to your computers that need to have the updater disabled. In my example, it is an empty GPO, but there’s no reason why you can’t add this to an existing GPO.

In your GPO, go to Computer Configuration > Preferences > Windows Settings > Registry. Right-click and choose New > Registry Item.

04-disable_reader_xi_updates-gpmc
If you have Adobe Reader XI installed on your management station, you can browse the registry to the setting you’ll be changing. (If you don’t, you can skip the next couple of steps and copy the entry manually.) In the Window that opens, click the “…” button next to Key Path.

05-disable_reader_xi_updates-gpmc

Browse down to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Policies > Adobe > Acrobat Reader > 11.0 > FeatureLockDown . Click on FeatureLockDown and then click Select.

06-disable_reader_xi_updates-gpmc

After clicking Select, you’ll be taken to the New Registry Properties window. You’ll need to enter the following:

Value name: bUpdater
Value type: REG_DWORD
Value data: 00000000 (that’s 8 zero’s)
Base: Hexadecimal

07-disable_reader_xi_updates-gpmc

If you didn’t have Adobe Reader XI installed on your management station, you can enter the following:

Action: Update
Hive: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
Key Path: SOFTWAREPoliciesAdobeAcrobat Reader11.0FeatureLockDown
Value name: bUpdater
Value type: REG_DWORD
Value data: 00000000 (that’s 8 zero’s)
Base:
Hexadecimal

When you click OK, it should look something like this in the Group Policy Management Editor:

08-disable_reader_xi_updates-gpmc

All that is left is to let Group Policy refresh on your test systems (or you can run a gpupdate.exe manually). If you open the Registry Editor, you should see the setting changed:

03-disable_reader_11_updates-registry

Here’s the before and after in Adobe Reader XI so you can see what the change should look like in the application:

10-disable_reader_11_updates-before_after

 

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Kyle Beckman

Kyle Beckman

Kyle is a Systems Administrator with 15+ years of experience. He currently works in Higher Education supporting everything from smartphones to desktop PC's to Hyper-V Failover Clusters. (If it has a IP address, he probably supports it!) He has also worked in Small Business IT consulting supporting a wide variety of businesses and non-profit organizations.

Kyle is also the Vice President of the Atlanta Windows Infrastructure and Virtualization User Group (WINVUG).You can find additional articles he's written on 4sysops.com.
Kyle Beckman

10 Comments

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  1. excellent walk through // worked a treat

  2. Does this also prevent the autoupdate? Do you have any info on the new version DC?

    Thanks for the work and post!

    Ken

  3. Hi,

    Will this take care of the pop notification in the bottom right hand corner?

    Thanks,

    Tom

    1. In “search box” type “msconfig” go to “services” uncheck “adobe acrobat update services” click “OK”

      1. Can’t say I’ve ever tried that in a production environment. Plus, all of the large environments I’ve supported didn’t give end users Admin rights. Doing that on a bunch of computers manually would get old really quick.

  4. What about the AdobeARMservice service that runs armsvc.exe automatically, and the scheduled task that runs AdobeARM.exe every day while a user is logged in.

  5. Thanks, manually editting the registry has done the work for me.
    I am using Adobe Reader 11 on a Windows 10 machine.

  6. holy crap. and these all steps just to disable updates in Adobe Reader! Adobe reader shame on you! why they removed disable feature in the setting of the program? idiots!

    1. No, all these steps to disable updates in Adobe Reader if you didn’t customize the install. The feature isn’t disabled in the app unless someone did it in the customization tool.

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