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How to Limit Windows 10 Data Use Over a Metered Connection

Living in a rural area comes with limits for bandwidth, and for me, that means I only have access to 3G networks. If you are like me, you might be coming to the realization that Windows 10 loves data…a lot. I don’t have any choice since I like to keep up with the latest and greatest in software. I noticed after upgrading to Windows 10 in 2015, my data plans were quickly eaten up in minutes. I started wondering what could be causing this? I had already done the standard task like setting my connection as Metered (which I will show you how). The data just kept disappearing. Eventually, I discovered the culprits.

Save on Your Windows 10 Data Usage

Set your connection as metered

One of the first things you can do is set your connection as metered. This will let Windows 10 know you don’t want significant updates and apps automatically download. Go to Start > Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Advanced Options.

Update: In the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Metered connection is now located under Start > Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > your connection name.

metered connect update

Then toggle Toggle on Set as metered connection.

 Metered 1

Update 2: The Windows 10 Creators Update makes it clearer about installation of critical updates. I feel indifferent about this, but at the same time, I believe the company is not taking into account the realities of mobile broadband limitations. Some of these security updates are likely to be delivered as part of large cumulative updates, which exceed the allotment of some data plans.

If your 2-day allotment is 300 MBs and a cumulative update is near 1 GBs; you are gonna run out of data before you can even apply the update. So, this is something users will need to watch out for. Windows 10 Home users won’t have any choice over the matter at all. With the premium business editions such as Pro and Enterprise, you can defer the updates until a suitable time. Hopefully, with differential updates in Windows Update, users running the Creators Update won’t have to worry too much about updates eating up their data caps.

Speaking of metered connections, the Creators Update now lets users set their Ethernet connections as metered. This was only limited to Wi-Fi, but there were registry hacks you could use in previous versions. Version 1703 makes it much as easier.

Turn off background apps

By default, Windows 10 keeps some apps running in the background, and they eat up a lot of data. In fact, the Mail app, in particular, is a major offender. You can turn off some of these apps by going to Settings > Privacy > Background apps.

Then toggle off apps that use background data that you don’t need. In my case, it was pretty much all of those apps that are listed. When Windows Updates or new versions are installed, these settings might be reset, so, periodically check it to make sure.

Background apps


OneDrive was another part of Windows 10 I discovered sips data in the background. Although disabling it might be a drastic step, since it’s a critical selling point in the operating system, I don’t need to keep it running all the time. I go into town once a week, so if there are some files I need to sync, I do so at an Internet café.

To disable OneDrive, right click the Taskbar and click Task Manager or press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC.

Select the startup tab Then under the Startup tab you can disable OneDrive. For more on this type of action, check out our article: How to Disable Startup Programs in Windows 10.

You might also want to do this for other syncing clients such as Dropbox or Google Drive.


Disable PC Syncing

It may sound odd to disable such a hallmark feature in Windows 10. I love PC syncing, but I honestly don’t need to have it running around the clock. You can turn it off, and when you do need to keep things synced, you can easily turn it on.

Go to Settings > Accounts > Sync your settings and turn Sync settings off.

If you think it’s a bit too much, you can pick and choose some settings to sync, for example, Web Browser should not be as bandwidth intensive as Other Windows Settings and Language Preferences.

PC Syncing

Turn off notifications

Another area that I notice can save you some data is turning off Action Center Notifications. For instance, if you don’t need to have background apps notifying you of on-going activities, just disable it, right click Action Center and select Turn on quiet hours.

Turn on quite hours

Turn off Live Tiles

Feed based apps such as News will retrieve the latest news and other information in the background. If you keep Live Tiles turned on. You don’t need to do this for every app, but for select apps like: Mail, Twitter, Weather, Facebook, you can keep it on. You can turn that off by right clicking on the Tile and “Turn off live tile”.

Turn off live tiles

Configure Windows Update to download updates over your local area network

Windows 10 introduces a cool enhancement to Windows Update I’m excited about; the option to have Windows Update download updates from a PC within your local network in a peer to peer fashion. It’s called Windows Update Delivery Optimization (WUDO).

This is ideal for scenarios where you are using a metered connection and have multiple PCs running Windows 10. You can use one PC to update the other directly, as long as they are the same architecture. You can enable this by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options > Choose how updates are delivered (yeah, it’s a setting that’s buried deep, unfortunately) and make sure it’s on. Also, make sure it’s set to PCs on my Local Network.

 Download PC Updates

Note that WUDO is a controversial feature in Windows 10 for some. For Windows 10 Home and Pro, it’s set to send Windows Update data to other PCs on the Internet by default (it’s only set to PCs on my local network for Enterprise and Education editions). If you’re in a limited bandwidth situation, you don’t want to be sharing updates with other PCs on the Internet. For more on WUDO, read our article: Stop Windows 10 from Sharing Your Windows Updates to Other PCs.

Defer Windows Updates

 If you are running Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, there is an option in Windows Update settings that lets you delay the download of new features for several months. This can be significant since new feature improvements can be quite substantial. Also, this does not affect the download and installation of security updates, and neither does not it prevent the download of features indefinitely, but it’s a welcome stop-gap. Please note, when Defer Windows Updates is enabled, it also affects Microsoft Office Updates.

You can enable Defer Upgrades by going to Settings > Update, and Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options scroll down a bit and check Defer upgrades.

The Pro, Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10 Creators Update let you block updates completely up to 35 days, see our article for instructions how to do it.

 Defer Updates Windows 10

Of course, not all these strategies have to be implemented. Depending on the type of plan you subscribe to, these tips will help you better manage Windows 10’s data usage, and make it last longer.

Did I miss anything? What are your favorite methods for limiting the amount of data Windows 10 uses? Leave a comment below and let us know, or continue the discussion in our free Windows 10 Forums.

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75 Responses to How to Limit Windows 10 Data Use Over a Metered Connection

  1. Usman Nasir September 5, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    Yes windows also send updates to other computers, and it really eats a lot of bandwidth.

    • Andre Da Costa September 7, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

      I have seen a significant reduction in bandwidth usage when I apply some of these tips. It would be nice if there was a Windows 7 mode, I think a Local Account is the closest to that.

      • Sam April 24, 2016 at 12:49 am #

        Hi, re:- set as metered connection – I did as you advised, went to settings, wifi through to advanced options but when I go there there is no toggle for set as metered connection. All that’s showing is properties info and a ‘copy’ button. I’ve just bought this PC brand new acer windows 10. I’m another who doesn’t have unlimited data.

        • Andy August 19, 2016 at 4:33 am #

          The Metered Connection toggle only shows once you are connected via WiFi or perhaps have WiFi turned on.
          If you are not using Wifi, the option does not show, so I guess this means you can only limit Windows 10 updates if using WiFi.
          Any other internet connection does not offer a Metered Connection switch.
          Microsoft thinks everyone has unlimited data.

      • meinjeans February 14, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

        omg thank you very much this helped me a lot i updated to win 10 a while ago and i only get 1 gb a day and it just ate all of it and couldnt do a thing
        its all better now thank you 🙂

  2. Bartholomew September 8, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    open up Store, click your user icon in upper bar (next to search), go to settings, turn off update apps automatically

  3. Ali October 30, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    thank you for all this tips but i still notice some bandwidth usage by my anti virus that has network monitoring “ESET Smart Security” like svchost can you help me with that

    • Jack Hodgson March 15, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

      I had a 6 gig Verizon wireless connection when I switched to Windows 10. My monthly bill went from around $63 per month to $570. After getting $250 knocked off my bill, Verizon still wants around $1320 from me. I visited four different Verizon phone centers and got different answers at each one. One store owner even insisted that my data usage had nothing to do with the upgrade and that it was a combination of my using that much data and not shutting my Jetpack off when not in use. I had actually been using my computer the same way I had for the previous 7 years or so, except that I did start shutting the computer off after I started getting the excessive bills.

  4. Josh November 4, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Thank you so much for making this article. I have Windows 10 at work but at my home I get 35 GB per month so I have been holding off to upgrade because of the reports of heavy data usage. Thanks again.

  5. subaselva November 22, 2015 at 2:51 am #


  6. Carolyn December 2, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart! New Windows 10 machine and I ONLY have metered data. YIKES!!

    • Andre Da Costa December 12, 2015 at 7:26 am #

      You are welcome Carolyn. I notice Windows 10 will reset the Metered Connection option sometimes, so check it periodically.

      • Sam November 9, 2016 at 9:19 am #

        Now that I know you can only access the ‘set as metered connection’ option when on WiFi, unfortunately whenever I get access to WiFi (I don’t have it at home) I notice that the metered connection switch sets itself to ‘off’ automatically. I need to know that it will remain ‘on’ even if I cannot have access to this switch except on WiFi, otherwise it will continue to cause my problems with excessive data usage. What can I do to make sure it STAYS on? I am constantly in dispute with my broadband provider over how quickly data gets eaten up. I have struggled with this problem for so long. Microsoft (or whoever provides the software) needs to do something about this. Windows 10 is inflexible and is causing me a financial, data-consuming headache!

  7. behan December 9, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    Thank you Andre! Like others, I’m only on metered data, and it is HUGE to have this advice.

    • Andre Da Costa December 12, 2015 at 7:37 am #

      Thanks behan, I hope Microsoft does more work in this area to optimize Windows 10 for limited bandwidth connections.

  8. Mike Webster December 10, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    My metered plan gives me only 5 GB per month, and I enhance it with whatever free wifi is being offered by the marinas and restaurants I visit. So this article could be very important for me. Thanks for writing it.

    • Steve Krause December 11, 2015 at 7:44 am #

      Awesome! Glad it was helpful! Thnx for the feedback, we appreciate it.

  9. teresaq December 11, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

    I was freaking out as I couldn’t afford the ticking meter! Thanks so much! By the way, I hate W10. I bought this used and it was already installed. If I knew how to roll back to previous windows and that PC would survive I so would do it!

  10. Ashish December 18, 2015 at 4:11 am #

    Thank you so much ….

  11. Dylan January 1, 2016 at 3:58 am #

    Thanks, by doing these steps it has helped a lot, but for some reason svchost.exe still goes a data killing spree. No idea how to stop it.

  12. david January 7, 2016 at 3:37 am #

    notited somthing strange with data couple days ago. havnt tested it yet but i hope this is correct.

  13. joy January 9, 2016 at 12:48 am #

    That is very helpful for my laptop. I am follow introduction that is worked my pc .

    Thank you.

  14. Prasida January 18, 2016 at 6:03 am #

    Thank you very much Andre! The tips are very useful. Applied them today, let me see the results. 🙂

  15. saiful bashar February 12, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    Thank u very much for writing this. I searched for solution but this was the best.

  16. dre February 22, 2016 at 3:03 am #

    wow i really appreciate this advised…though it came just when i had already lost a considerable amount of data…very thatnkful anyways

  17. Manas March 2, 2016 at 3:30 am #

    Thanx bro….it was really very helpful for me

  18. Franco De Lange March 2, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

    Awesomeness, great post!!

  19. sueh March 9, 2016 at 12:48 am #

    I have being search heaps of sites to save data. Yours is the best so far. I have noticed a huge improvement in my data usage

  20. Rameshwar Rathnam March 10, 2016 at 2:02 am #

    Thank you Andre, Was great help.

  21. Andre Da Costa March 10, 2016 at 6:08 am #

    You are welcome everyone.

  22. Dana March 12, 2016 at 6:23 am #

    Thanks for all steps, it worked for me I have 4 gigabyte in my plan monthly with LTE broadband when I’m outside home , but when I come back home all my devices will connect to ADSL router should I rollback all settings to the first to get all updates and notifications!! Microsoft should think greater then that

  23. Ayat March 16, 2016 at 10:06 pm #


  24. sriharsha March 17, 2016 at 11:20 am #

    Thanks a lot. Info helps a lot.

  25. Sheridan C Ernstmeyer March 30, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    Well I’ve done most of this but when I follow the very first path I don’t have an option to toggle to metered. Im on a mobile pay-as-you-go hotspot. I usually but a gigayte at a time which lasts 2 weeks. I’m about to but the the 428th one in 4 days. I didn’t even want Windows 10 it just drugging installed. I’m ready to sue Microsoft

    • Andre Da Costa March 30, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

      Well, that is a pay as you got hot spot. The instructions in this article pertain to mobile cellular data. You can use some of the additional instructions to help limit Windows 10 data usage. I would go back into Start > Settings > Network > Wi-Fi > Advanced Options

      Metered Connection should be the second option.

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