Avoid Windows 10 finish the franchise of your mobile data

Ever happened to you to share the 3 g/4 g internet from your mobile phone with your Windows notebook 10, only to find that in a few hours (sometimes in mere minutes) he used up all his monthly franchise?

Well, the good news is that you can avoid. Learn how.

The motivation for this post came from a discussion about a news-that from now on it would be possible to pause Windows updates 10 for up to 35 days.

The crux of the discussion was "but why would anyone want to pause updates?" One of the reasons cited was able to control the internet bandwidth consumption of Windows 10-releasing download updates only in the moment in which it was more convenient. With it you could, for example, delay the update while you're on the street, releasing him only when you connect the laptop to the network in your home or work.

That's when someone commented:

He's[o Windows 10] already smart enough to not download in mobile connections, and if there is no band, not to take the whole band.

And someone else replied immediately:

No, he's not. When I shared my android connection that I had with the computer on (my wife) he managed to download 2 GB in half an hour with update.

After all, Windows knows or not to reduce the data traffic when it connects to a cell phone?

Let's get down to brass tacks

Arguably the Windows 10 was made thinking on PCs with unlimited Internet connections and, typically, it uses as much of your download and upload that he can. To avoid this behavior, since the Windows 8 Microsoft introduced the concept of Limited Connections (Metered Connections in English).

Limited connections serve to indicate to the Windows there is a data limit in a Internet connection and, therefore, it must reduce the most of your data traffic. That's how we restrict data consumption when we connect to a 3 g phone.

As a result, when we set a connection as limited, we have a change in behavior in Windows:

  • Download of updates is interrupted. Windows will not download updates from Windows Update in the background when it is connected to a limited connection;
  • Updating apps is interrupted. Automatic updates of Windows apps Store are interrupted. However, this applies only to the Windows Store. "Old" desktop applications, to take care if his own update process (like Google Chrome) may not respect this setting.
  • Peer-to-peer sharing of updates is interrupted. Windows 10 brought something new in the process of downloading updates from Windows Update. Until Windows 8, the downloads were made exclusively from Microsoft servers. From Windows, 10 updates can come from other computer users near you who have already downloaded that package (it's like a "BitTorrent Updates"). You don't realize, but you can be sharing tiny bits of update packages all the time while you're connected to the Internet. Limited connections, it does not.
  • Update of Live Tiles is reduced (or suspended). Updates of Live Tiles ("dynamic blocks") of Windows 10 may depend on push notifications from the internet. In these cases, to reduce the traffic generated by these notifications, updates that come from the internet are reduced and/or suspended.
  • Applications can behave in a different way. "Well-behaved" applications can query the status of the current network connection, and to realize that they're in a limited connection, reduce or even suspend the network traffic. This type of behavior is more common in "modern" apps (UWP), but desktop apps can also follow suit. Outlook (2013 onwards) is one of those desktop apps as far as a limited connection:

Outlook with limited connection indicator bar. It will not download emails unless you click "Connect anyway"
Outlook with limited connection indicator bar. It will not download emails unless you click "Connect anyway"

OK, now that we know that it is possible to indicate to the Windows that we are connected to a network limited and, therefore, he should not "destroy" our internet, Miss learn how to define a connection as limited.

Configuring a connection Limited

First, connect to the internet using the internet from your mobile phone the way you're used to. IMPORTANT: limited Connections only apply to WiFi network and furniture.

Next, click the fly-out Windows networks (WiFi icon on the taskbar of Windows), select the connection with your phone, and then click Properties:

The connections menu Windows, with a selected cellular connection. Click Properties to change the setting of limited connection
The connections menu Windows, with a selected cellular connection. Click Properties to change the setting of limited connection

Finally, in the connection settings window, activate the option of limited connection ("metered connection"):

Network configuration window of Windows, with the option of limited connection ("Metered Connection") highlights
Network configuration window of Windows, with the option of limited connection ("Metered Connection") highlights

Ready! Now Windows will know that this is a limited connection and will reduce the consumption of data whenever you are connected to this network.

After all, Windows is "smart" or not?

Back to the discussion that led to this post. The first comment said that Windows was smart enough not to download updates when connected to the cell phone, while the second disagreed with evidence that the Windows had downloaded two gigs of updates.

The truth, oddly enough, is that both are right. 🙂

What happened is that the two have connected to the internet 3 g phone in different ways. See:

  • In the case of mobile networks connected directly to Windows, either through 3 g/4 g USB modems or those laptops that now come with 3 g support of factory (just install a chip in the PC), the OS really is "smart" and automatically configures the network as limited.
  • However, the same does not apply to connections over WiFi (via internet sharing to mobile phones). That's because Windows has no way of knowing if that is a WiFi access point "normal", connected to a broadband internet or a hotspot of a cell phone. So, he simply assumes that is an unlimited WiFi. In these cases, whenever you connect to a 3 g WiFi hotspot it is essential that you enable the limited connection manually.

Remember that Windows Setup unlimited connection persists for their WiFi networks. So, if you name your WiFi network with a specific name hotpost enough (in my case, my hotspot is called LG G4 of Igor), just do the configuration the first time you connect to that network. The next time he will remember and keep the connection as limited. And the best: As the WiFi settings are saved in the cloud (as long as you enable synchronization of Windows settings) even if you format the computer and reinstall Windows it still will remember the limited network configuration.

So, what did you think of the post? Knew the limited connections feature of Windows? Leave your comment!

A hug,

Author: Igor Abade

Igor Abade V. Leite ([email protected]) is a Visual Studio ALM MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) since 2006. Speaker at various Software Development community events (TechEd Brasil, The Developers’ Conference, DevOps Summit Brasil, Agile Brazil, Visual Studio Summit, QCON among others), has also written articles in magazines and websites such as MSDN Brazil. Since March/2011 is one of the owners of Lambda3, a Brazilian consulting company specialized in ALM, software development and training. Visit his blog about VS ALM at http://www.tshooter.com.br/ and follow him on Twitter @igorabade.

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