How to Better Track and Limit Data Usage in Windows 10 April Update

The new Windows 10 update in April brought about some great new features, and we touched upon some of them in a recent post. One of the more hidden features is the new and improved data limit options that come baked into the operating system by default.

To track and limit your data usage on Windows 10 better, start by clicking the Start button, then clicking the cog icon on the left.

Once in the Settings menu, select “Network & Internet.”

On the left panel click “Data Usage.”

You’ll now see a screen with various options on it. It may seem a lot, but don’t worry; it’s actually rather simple to get started!

If you’re interested in seeing just how much data each app uses, click the blue text that says “View usage per app” near the top of the settings screen.

Windows 10 will automatically load up the app usage for the Internet connection you’re currently using. You can quickly and easily see which apps are the biggest data culprits from here. While you can’t do any tweaking of each app’s data usage from here, it can give you a good idea of your biggest data drains so you can limit your usage of them. If there are any data-hungry apps you don’t need anymore, this will tell you what you need to uninstall.

If you’re currently using another WiFi connection, such as an office or café hotspot, you can view the different network connections by clicking the dropdown and selecting the one that you’re interested in.

One of the best new options for data-sensitive users is the data limit option. This will keep tabs on how much data your computer is using and give you a warning when you’re getting close to using it all up. In order to set up a data limit on a network, first select it from the dropdown menu on the main page, then click the “Set Limit” button.

Here you can tell Windows what your current data plan is.

Monthly is good if you have a rolling contract with a service provider who allows you a certain amount of gigabytes per month. Select the day when a new month in the contract begins and your data is refreshed, then enter the amount you’re allowed to use.

Windows will now keep tabs on your data usage, telling you how much you’ve used as well as how long you have to go until the next reset. Be aware that Windows won’t be able to retroactively add on data you’ve used previously, so be aware of any data usage you accrued before setting this option. It’s also important to note that Windows won’t shut off the WiFi connection when the usage is up, so make sure not to leave data downloading by itself.

One Time is good if you bought a one-shot batch of data, such as a mobile internet “data boost.” Simply enter how much data you have to use and if the data expires after a certain amount of days. This will keep you informed how much data you have left. It will also keep track of the expiry date to ensure the data doesn’t go to waste.

If you used up any data in your one-shot plan before setting this option, be sure to double-check how much data you have left to stop any surprises.

Unlimited is when you don’t have a hard data usage cap but want to keep tabs on your usage in case of something like a fair use policy. Simply enter the date at which your data usage resets, and Windows will keep tabs on your usage.

The last thing you want on a metered network is for apps to drain your data via background processes. If you rather they didn’t, simply select the metered network you want to edit, then select “Always” under “Background data.”

Previously, keeping tabs on your data usage in Windows 10 was tricky, but not impossible. Now, with the April 2018 update, it’s far easier to see offending apps, set a data limit, and restrict background data.

Do you see yourself using this in the future? Let us know below.

This article was first published in Mar 2016 and was updated in May 2018.