Monitoring and Controlling Data Usage in Windows 10

We talk a lot about Windows 10 on Make Tech Easier. You may recall me ranting about privacy concerns and why you should’ve waited when it came out. Eventually I had to take the plunge. Some of these issues have been alleviated for me since I wrote those articles, but unfortunately Windows 10 has had an issue from the start that’s actually somewhat difficult to remedy: it uses a lot of data.

Once upon a time I was on a metered connection limited to 10 GB a month. Some of you may be operating with bigger or smaller pools than that. Regardless, if you’re here, you likely want to learn how to control Windows 10 data usage, and that’s what I’m here for.


First things first: head to the Microsoft Store, and download the Data Usage app. The App is unfortunately full of ads, but it will provide you with detailed information on how much data you’re using on a regular basis.


Basically, you want whatever your total data usage is to be reasonable to sustain over the period of a full month. My provider gives me unlimited usage, so as you can see above, that isn’t an issue for me. Say for example you’re using a 10GB connection, you want to use no more than ~300 MB per day.

Unfortunately, Windows 10 makes that harder than ever unless you change some settings.


If you’re using Wi-Fi or mobile, you’re in luck: simply head to Network Settings, select “Wi-Fi” and enable the slider that sets the connection as a metered one. Unfortunately, if you’re using a Wired connection you can’t set your connection as metered. This is unfortunate, but there are still things you can do to cut down on unnecessary data usage.

If you still need to make moves to change settings, here’s what to do. Open the Start Menu, type “Privacy” and select “Privacy Settings.”


Once you’re there, scroll down the left sidebar and select “Background apps.”


To conserve data you’re going to want to disable as much of these as possible. However, note that features tied to them, like Phone features with Phone, may cause you problems if you disable them. For all non-essential applications, don’t hesitate to disable their background data.

Other ways to reduce your data usage while also increasing your privacy can be seen in Vamsi Krishna’s great article on the subject. Give that a read if you want more OS tweaks.

However, there’s one last thing to cover, and that’s data conservation habits.


Unfortunately, all the apps and OS-level tweaks in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how to practice good data usage habits. Start by installing things like AdBlock or uBlock to reduce the amount of things you’re loading in a page.

Additionally, limit your multimedia consumption. For users operating at 10GB a month or less, you have little to no room for watching videos on YouTube or Netflix or long Skype calls. These possibilities open up a bit more as your limit goes higher, but you’re still putting yourself at risk if you don’t keep a close eye on your daily data consumption.

Overall, conserving data on Windows 10 is a matter of using the right applications and using some good old-fashioned common sense.

Do you have any advice on how to conserve data? Feel free to add your tips to the comment section below!

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