How to set metered connections and disable Windows 10 Update Delivery Optimization

Windows 10 brings with it many new features and some old ones just moved around. When it comes to internet data many users, especially in the US, enjoy unlimited data at home. However, there are still parts of the world where there are monthly data caps for various internet connections, and this could cause problems with Windows 10.

One new feature in Windows 10 is Windows Update Delivery Optimization. The feature "lets you get Windows updates and Windows Store apps from sources in addition to Microsoft". Microsoft explains the reasons for this feature in their detailed FAQ on the technology (opens in new tab):

"This can help you get updates and apps more quickly if you have a limited or unreliable Internet connection. And if you own more than one PC, it can reduce the amount of Internet bandwidth needed to keep all of your PCs up-to-date. Delivery Optimization also sends updates and apps from your PC to other PCs on your local network or PCs on the Internet."

The idea here is for distributed Store and Windows Updates, which helps you with faster, more reliable downloads. It also helps Microsoft by offloading some of their bandwidth and reaching more customers quickly. The idea is a very good one, but there are two concerns:

  1. Windows Update Delivery Optimization is on by default – If you did Express Settings during the Windows 10 setup, you agreed to have this feature enabled
  2. PCs on the Internet – Although it is one thing to share with computers on your network, you are also possibly sharing bits of updates (not the whole thing) to other PCs on the internet. There is no security concern here, to our knowledge. The data is siloed, and there are only shared bits, not whole services or updates.

Microsoft is pretty forward with this information detailing it in their FAQ on the subject (opens in new tab), which is also linked in Settings. For most users with a home connection, this feature does not matter. Microsoft is not commandeering your network akin to a Torrent, swallowing up massive amounts of bandwidth in an all-they-can-get manner. Or perhaps more safely, this has not been demonstrated to our knowledge.

If you are uncomfortable with the setting, Microsoft makes it rather easy to control. I choose to leave WUDO on as I think is the right way for most users. However, you are in charge so here is how to turn it off.

Disable or Modify Windows Update Delivery Optimization

1. All Settings

2. Update & Security

3. Windows Update

4. Click Advanced options

5. Choose how updates are delivered

6. Modify

Here you can disable or enable Windows Update Delivery Optimization. You can also choose between share with PCs on my network or PCs on my network and PCs on the internet.

Click Learn more to jump to Microsoft's FAQ (opens in new tab) for more information.

Like all new tools, Windows Update Delivery Optimization is controversial for some users. Personally, I think a lot of it is over-reaction, which is why I leave this setting enabled. However, everyone has their reasons, their security concerns, so it is good Microsoft gives you a choice.

Metered Networks

The problem with Windows Update Delivery Optimization (or WUDO) also arises for those on a metered (or capped) data connection. Microsoft is very clear though about what happens:

"As with Windows 8.1, Windows 10 won't automatically download updates or apps if it detects that your PC is using a metered connection. Similarly, Delivery Optimization won't automatically download or send parts of updates or apps to other PCs on the Internet if it detects that you're using a metered connection."

By default, Microsoft does not use WUDO for detected metered connections. Of course, that is the rub. The OS must be aware that it is using a metered connection e.g. the LTE radio in the Surface 3 or X1 Carbon is identified as being metered by default. In that case, WUDO does not work on my Lenovo X1 Carbon, although I can over-ride it.

If, however, your connection is metered, and Windows does not detect it you need to set that feature manually. By doing this, you can keep on WUDO and not have to worry about it being used on capped internet connections. Here is how.

Set Wi-Fi to Metered

1. Connected

Make sure you are connected to the Wi-Fi network that you wish to set as metered

2. All Settings

3. Network & Internet

4. Advanced options

You may have to scroll down if you have a lot of networks. Assuming you are connected to the network you want to set as metered, hit Advanced options for the next step.

5. Turn on

Under Metered connection, you can toggle Set as metered connection to On.

That's it. Now that Wi-Fi connection is set to metered, and the OS will throttle data usage for just the barebones like user initiated web browsing or email checking. These limitations include:

  • Windows Update will only download priority updates.
  • Apps downloading from the Windows Store might be paused
  • Start screen tiles might stop updating
  • Offline files might not sync automatically

Setting to metered also prevents WUDO from being utilized.

No Ethernet for metered?

Of course, you may have noticed that this setting works only for Wi-Fi connections and Mobile Broadband e.g. Surface 3 LTE. It does not, however, work for ethernet. This inability means if you plug your PC in via a Cat-5 cable for internet the OS assumes you have unlimited data available.

If you use have a metered internet account, and you use ethernet, then you should disable Windows Update Delivery Optimization as described above. You can also use the 'defer Windows Updates' methods, referred to in our previous articles:

Another option is to try and switch to a strict Wi-Fi-only connection (unplug ethernet) or use a USB Wi-Fi dongle and set those to metered. This last resort should only be necessary for a small minority of users, but it is good to know.

Microsoft's Windows 10 is a very cloud-based OS. This reliance on a dedicated internet connection should not be too surprising as the world moves to cloud computing more and more. From roaming profiles to syncing wallpapers, OneDrive, Windows Updates and Windows as a Service (WaaS), this is a very internet-dependent OS.

At least you know now how to reign all of that in if you have limited data per month.

Are you keeping WUDO on or off? Let us know why in comments!

More Resources

Remember that we have many other articles on Windows 10, if you need help you always check these other resources:

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • This is the comment where I want to ask jokingly for the wallpaper. Alas, I'm just a day's drive away from Daniel, and I want to be able to sleep at night. :P
  • Activating battery saver mode from the taskbar will stop updates from downloading until you turn it off!
  • Right, but that does nothing for a desktop PC (no battery, no battery saver option) nor is it a long-term solution for those on a laptop.
  • I think sharing updates on local network is genius. One computer downloads them and all PCs on home network get them. I have 4 PCs in my home office and 2 laptops and updates were a pain when all PCs would download the updates separately and use up the connection.
  • Yup. It definitely is a smarter, more efficient usage of data. Parallel computing and distribution of data files helps make the internet a better place. When you have an OS with so much 'cloud' to it, this really helps.
  • I like the idea of share updates through local network (pretty smart), and I don't care either to share through internet. But I think the default settings should be first one (only local)
  • "especially in the US" do we get crappy Internet :-\ I went more than 50 times to the US, and my experience with Internet (both 4G or cable/ADSL) has been terrible. Sure, the situation is probably better than in many countries, but compared to most European or Asian countries... Well, Internet is just bad in the US (especially in hotels).
  • Depends. Residential internet can be good if fiber optic is present. With Verizon FiOS available in a lot of places you can opt for a max 300/300 Mbps connection although most opt for 50/50 or 75/75. The problem in the US is that it is so huge it takes a long time to lay down the fiber. A country like South Korea is roughly the size of Texas.
  • This how-to format is SO much better than a video. Thank you Daniel!
  • Sure thing, glad you like it.
  • It makes sense for a target audience who wants to restrict data usage. Offering a Youtube/Vimeo/etc video and, say, defaulting it to a HD resolution is just not a good idea. So, I too think this was a good decision.
  • This is good to know.  However, what I really need is the ability to set a time of day (0200-0500 am) as time for the system to update.  During this time, I have unlimited data with much higer speeds.  As I live in a rural area and limited to statelite internet, this is the only option I currently have.  Otherwise, I would use LTE with higher data plan if I could be a solid LTE signal.
  • Huh, that is a very unique requirement. Not sure they'll have a native solution for that anytime soon. May need to find a third-party way ¯_(ツ)_/¯
  • Create a batch file for your connection and use task scheduler to run the batch file at 2AM. You can create another task to disconnect the connection by 5AM.
  • You might want to check out gpedit.msc Navigate to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update In there you will see Configure Automatic Updates ........ The options that were present in Windows 7/8.1 and got hidden in windows 10. I use option number 2 as it is the best suited for me (Notify to download and Notify to install).  
  • Whoa, that is neat. Will have to work that into a separate article, thanks.
  • I found it neat as well .... rather than toggling a bunch of buttons here and there ..... Moreover you have advanced control over the time schedule for installing the update :)
  • I am seeing "At least Windows 10 Server, Windows 10 or Windows 10 RT" under Defer update. Interesting.
  • The Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) does not seem to be available on my version of Windows 10, which is not Pro, Enterprise, or Professional. Just the standard home stuff.  Looks like gpedit.msc is just for Pro and above SKUs.
  • @Daniel Gilbert M. Cheers for the info, just what I needed :D.
  • Thank you guys!! That resolves my only dislike of Win10. Now I can roll it out in my small office to other users. I ran out of peak time data in 3 days as I had no way to control what gets downloaded. I have unlimited off-peak (00:00-07:00) LTE data plan on the Telkom network in South Africa so I can do weekly updates from 6am and share update other machines over the local network.
  • If only my Lumia was capable of data tethering aka USB WiFi,....then I wouldn't be need to fiddle with hidden things.
  • I Know that pain bro...
  • Keep doing the good work Daniel! I mentioned this in a comment last week.  Glad you turned it into an easy to follow how-to.
  • Thanks. Helps the staff too as it forces us to really explore the OS. Plus, we end up getting some crazy tips from more advanced users (see above). I just know recently when I tried OS X for the first time in a long time I was search left and right for things, lol. Helps to have that mindset for new users here. Soon we'll be tackling Windows 10 Mobile too.
  • Awesome, keep up the great work Daniel!
    These how-tos have made my life so much easier. I just link people to the Windows 10 tips and tricks page when people i know just bombard me with the same questions over and over again. It's gotten so bad lately I've had to uninstall Viber, Whatsapp, Telegram alas there is no escape. As I received a spate of text messages 5 minutes ago hence why I'm now up at 1.47 am -.-. I don't mind helping just not at odd hours in the morning lol.
  • Of course if you have more than one PC on your network it would be silly to disable the sharing feature.
  • May I please ask you to stop spamming the same comment? Three times and this one is off topic. Thanks!
  • Insecure much? oh no people know about my porn collection! Like I'm the only person in the entire world...
  • If WUDO sends small bits its a great option.. But I heard one of my colleague was telling me that around 2GB of his data was used by this option within a weeks time .. So I too turned off this option hearing that!!
  • I really like these settings, but I don't like that they are enabled by default. I have disabled it on my SP3(hoping it helps battery life), but it's currently still enabled on my desktop. Nice to have the option, and thanks to D Gilbert above for the tip!
  • By default, they basically steal your bandwith.
  • It's kind of unprofessional for a "journalist" to place his/hers opinions all over the place. A guide should be a guide, not a place to discredit others worries. By the way, people should've learned by now with all the toolbars that custom installation is ALWAYS the way to go. Just reading "express settings" should be a cause for alarm.
  • @Daniel can you plz prepare the video for the same of the usage of the internet.plz
  • I'll probably ditch this setting as I use a pocket WiFi when I'm out and about and don't want my tablet constantly uploading to other PC's. I'll leave the in network setting on though.
  • Just make sure the pocket WiFi is set as a metered connection  Problem solved.
  • Seriously, it's time to take our computers back.  Stop the update
    madness.  I wrote a piece of software that disables
    windows updates and enables them when you CHOOSE to.  I had enough of
    them automatically downloading and rebooting my computer mid day. Block automatic updates using this: I have instructions on how I was able to block and unblock them yourself
    if you want to do it on my blog.
  • Thanks well written,   But it does not adequetly address issues with  ehternet;  (which includes USB tethering).  I have been using USB tethering on my cell phone which is a very limitted and capped recource.   I have discovered two problems with this: 1) For some stupid reason windows does not recognize and remember the unique characterisics of a USB thethered connection and treats each connection as a new connection and creates a NEW profile every time you connect ;  this is  a very stupid bug and needs to get fixed ! 2) A USB thethered connection is treated as an ETHERNET connection and therefore there is no obvious simple way to set this connection as a metered connection. Fortunately after much google searching I found a  registry hack to get around this problem;  but it is uterly rediculous that I have to go to such extreme measures to perfrom such a simple task. Also another interesting side note;  The windpws 10 Network and sharing center is much  much worse then the old windows 7 version and is a terible step backwards.  It used to be possible to use the GUI  to remove/merge/delete all the extra  network profiles but now it can only be done by editing the registry        
  • Don't know enough about computers to be able to tell whether my post is relevant to the issue, but I just downloaded Windows 10 without knowingly having done anything to allow this. Perhaps I wasn't paying attention when the pop- up inviting me to install it appeared, but the result was that that this new version of windows was installed on my PC and I couldn't use my mobile broadband dongle to connect to the internet.   I suggest to Microsoft that when a notification appears notifying the user that a particular function is turned “on” or “off”, then the user should be able to click on this notification to change the status. I was nearly despairing of the possibility of turning my mobile broadband connection back on again when I accidentally found the “Flightless Mode” option, after hitting the “windows” key at the bottom left of the keyboard, then selecting “settings”, then “network and internet”, then selecting “Flight mode” and turning the setting on. I also discovered that you can unrestrict data by going through the windows key mentioned above, then selecting settings, then “devices”, then “connected devices”, then selecting the dongle which I have, then hitting the “download over metred/ metered connections option, and changing it to “on”. In theory, this should allow the user to download over metred / metered connections.   If anyone else is trying this, please be aware that it appears to me that there are several different versions of windows 10, so the sequence of selections I made and which I've detailed above may not be applicable to those with other versions.
  • Sometimes the metered connection option is totally missing. I checked this video - and corrected the OS (win 10 ) to get the option. Have to admit, win10 uses a lot of data if you are not setting it as a metered connection.
  • We live 45minutes from St. Louis, MO.  There is no broadband here.  Due to topography and low population density, broadband will never be here. Instead, we have a satellite connection that comes to the computer via ETHERNET.  Between 1am and 6am, I can download about 500MB/hour.  Otherwise, I am limited to 425MB a day.  Once I exceed taht 425MB, the ISP (Hughes) SHUTS DOWN THE CONNECTION for 24 hours.  This is a Metered Ethernet connection, and there appears to be no way to update Windows 10. I need the ability to schedule and pause these huge downloads that Microsoft keeps sending!