Disable Adobe Reader X updates with Group Policy

By default, an installation of Adobe Reader X will check for updates and then will prompt the end user to install the update whether or not the user has Admin rights. In a small environment, this may not be a problem, but in a larger environment, this can generate a lot of unnecessary support requests when a user that doesn’t have Admin rights gets a UAC prompt that wants Admin credentials. Here’s how to disable the Reader update checks so that your end users don’t see messages like this:

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 X (32-bit) running on a x86/32-bit versions and x64/64-bit versions of Windows.

Disabling the Adobe Reader X 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 Reader10.0FeatureLockDown. 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:

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.


If you have Adobe Reader X 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.

Browse down to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Policies > Adobe > Acrobat Reader > 10.0 > FeatureLockDown . Click on FeatureLockDown and then click Select.

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

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

Action: Update
Hive: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
Key Path: SOFTWAREPoliciesAdobeAcrobat Reader10.0FeatureLockDown
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:

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:

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

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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.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for this tip! I had previously been removing startup entries from the registry and setting various other values in the registry through GPOs, but this method is much simpler as I only have to modify a single registry value.

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