How to Disable Firefox Background Updates

This post will show you how to disable Firefox background updates on Windows, which were introduced in version 90. By default, the browser will download and install updates in the background when it is not running.

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Modern Firefox is a fast and cool looking web browser. It features the "Proton" user interface that plays well with the UI changes made in Windows 11. Under the hood, it comes with the Quantum engine, optimized for best performance. While Firefox left XUL add-ons in the past, a galore of new Web Extensions-based add-ons allows the user to add extra functionality and value to the browser.

Starting in Firefox 90, Mozilla added background updates. Due to this feature, the browser automatically downloads and installs new versions, but only then it is not running. So, if you close the browser, it will install and apply any available updates without showing a confirmation.

On the one hand, this is a great change as the browser automatically gets the most recent version. On the other hand, some users find this change to be aggressive. It takes control from the user's hands. If you are not happy with this change, follow the steps below.

Disable Firefox Background Updates

  1. Open the Firefox browser.
  2. Click on the hamburger menu icon or press Alt + F and select Settings.
  3. In the General section, scroll down to the Firefox Updates section.
  4. Uncheck the option Use a background service to install updates.Disable Firefox Background Updates

This will stop Firefox from installing new versions of the browser in the background.

Additionally, there is a policy option available in the browser that prevents it from getting background updates. It can be used in Windows and Linux.

Disable Background Updates in Firefox with Group Policy

  1. Close Firefox.
  2. Open the Registry Editor app  and navigate to the following Registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies.
  3. Create a new subkey here named Mozilla. You will have the path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Mozilla.
  4. Now, Under the Mozilla key, create a new subkey Firefox. You will get the path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Mozilla\Firefox.
  5. To disable Firefox background updates, create a new 32-Bit DWORD value BackgroundAppUpdate. on the right. Leave its value data as 0.Disable Firefox Background Updates With Policy
  6. Finally, you can start Firefox.

To revert the change, remove the BackgroundAppUpdate 32-bit DWORD value you have created, then restart Firefox.

To save your time, you can download the following ready-to-use Registry files:

Download Registry Files

Download the ZIP archive using the above link and extract two REG files from it.

Double click the file disable firefox background updates.reg to stop the browser from installing updates without your acknowledge. The undo tweak is enable firefox background updates.reg. Confirm the UAC prompt after applying the REG file and restart the browser.

Turn off Background Updates in Firefox with policies.json

policies.json is a special text file that stores Firefox customizations on the hard drive rather than in the Registry.

To disable Firefox background updates, create a policies.json file with the following content.

{
"policies": 
   {
     "BackgroundAppUpdate": false
    }
}

On Windows

Put your JSON file into the 'C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\distribution' folder. Create a distribution folder under the C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\ folder location and move the policies.json file into that folder.

On Linux

The policies.json trick also works in Linux. You need to create the /etc/firefox/policies folder and move your file there.

Note that /etc is a location not writable by regular user accounts. Use the sudo command to create it. For example, the command sequence can be like this.

sudo mkdir -p /etc/firefox/policies

sudo mv ~/Desktop/policies.json /etc/firefox/policies

That's it.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer from Russia who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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