Windows 10 developers focus on connectivity and interoperability. This is an operating system designed for the internet age — and that requires bandwidth.
Whether you know about it or not, Windows 10 may well be wasting your bandwidth. This could leave you without internet access, or responsible for extra charges for the data, so be aware of the methods employed by the operating system (OS) and the steps you can take to combat them.
Here’s an explanation of how Windows 10 could be squandering your bandwidth, and some strategies on how to cut down the waste.
1. Peer-to-Peer Downloads
Microsoft made no secret of its intention to distribute Windows 10 to as many devices as possible, and the company is making full use of the legion of systems that already have the OS installed.
To distribute the downloads (and possibly save costs on Microsoft’s end), your PC might grab files from other users, rather than downloading them from a central Microsoft server. This is known as a peer-to-peer (P2P) download, the same technique that facilitates torrenting.
P2P can be a real boon if central servers are at capacity during peak download times. But anyone with limited bandwidth might find that they run through their allocation very quickly if they’re the one distributing updates to other users.
Here’s how to turn this option off:
- Press Windows key + I to bring up Settings.
- Head to Update & Security > Windows Update and select Advanced options.
- Click Delivery optimization.
- Turn off the toggle below Allow downloads from other PCs.
However, if you have several computers that need to be kept up-to-date on the same local network, you might consider setting the toggle switch to On and making sure that the radio toggle is set to PCs on my local network. This means that you would only have to download the install files from the internet once, transferring it between your systems afterward without using up more bandwidth.
2. OneDrive Transfers
Microsoft launched OneDrive as their cloud service that allows users to store and protect their files, share them, and access them from any compatible device. Many users rely on the service to access important files when they’re not on their primary computer, but it can be something of a bandwidth hog if left unchecked.
Files in specified folders are automatically uploaded to the OneDrive service, and files stored online can be downloaded automatically in much the same way. This can amount to several gigabytes worth of transfers very quickly, but there’s an option to put some limits in place.
Open OneDrive from your system tray and head to Settings. Then, select the Network tab.
Switch each toggle to Limit to: and specify a maximum rate. The exact figure will depend on the bandwidth available to you, and it might take a little bit of trial-and-error to find what works for you.
3. Other App Processes
While OneDrive at least offers some control over how much data it uploads and downloads, other apps don’t offer similar settings. You can use a third-party app like NetBalancer to monitor and manage the bandwidth used by individual programs, but you can also cut out the middle man by delving into PowerShell.
Type PowerShell into the search bar (Windows key + Q) and select Run as Administrator. We will create a Quality of Service rule that throttles how much bandwidth is available to a particular piece of software, but first, you’ll need to find out the name of the .exe that you’re looking to limit. For this example, we’re going to pick Cortana, which Windows refer to as SeachUI.exe. .
Enter the following string into the PowerShell window, changing the ‘-Name’ and ‘-AppPathNameMatchCondition’ values as suitable:
New-NetQosPolicy -Name CortanaBandwidth -AppPathNameMatchCondition SearchUI.exe -IPProtocolMatchCondition Both -NetworkProfile All -ThrottleRateActionBitsPerSecond 5000000.
You can also change the ‘-ThrottleRateActionBitsPerSecond’ value to something higher or lower, depending on the program being throttled. The above string will result in a limit of 5 Mbps.
To review this policy, open up PowerShell and input:
Get-NetQosPolicy -Name CortanaBandwidth
To delete the policy, use the command:
Remove-NetQosPolicy -Name CortanaBandwidth
4. Apps Running in the Background
Certain Windows apps are allowed to run in the background so they can get updates, show notifications, or receive information. The chance is you don’t need all of them so you should turn them off to stop Windows from wasting your bandwidth.
- Right-click the Start button and select Settings.
- Navigate to Privacy > Background apps.
- From the Choose which apps can run in the background list, turn off the toggle for the apps that you consider are wasting your bandwidth.
If you want to take this a step further, turn off the toggle below and Let apps run in the background.
5. Live Tiles Updates
In Windows computers, Live Tiles are part of the Start menu and they display updated information, such as weather or news. Besides that you may rarely use them, live tiles waste your internet bandwidth. Fortunately, you can easily turn them off. In the Start menu, right-click one of the live tiles and head to More > Turn live tile off.
6. Sync Settings
Multiple Windows settings such as themes, language, or passwords are uploaded into your Microsoft account. So when you log in to a different computer, Windows will import your account settings to that system. If you don’t mind manually configuring system settings when using a new computer, you can turn off PC syncing and save some internet bandwidth.
- Launch Settings and head to Accounts.
- From the left-hand menu, click Sync your settings.
- Turn off the toggle below Sync settings.
Reclaim Your Bandwidth
Whether it’s a Twitter timeline peppered with GIFs or a playlist of the latest YouTube videos, the content we consume on the internet carries larger file sizes than ever before — and that makes bandwidth limits all the more important.
That’s why it’s a smart idea to make sure Windows 10 isn’t hogging more of your allowance than it should be. Just a few minutes of tweaking some settings is enough to confirm that Microsoft isn’t siphoning off your bandwidth, so consider making these changes before you reach your limit.