Limit Windows Update Bandwidth Usage Without 3rd Party Apps

Windows update’s automatic delivery is an excellent feature. It is fast, usually goes smooth and… it just works. Limiting risks, improves stability and tightens the system’s security. Ironically, it is also a complete pain in the ass when it decides to eat every bandwidth up; Affecting work, gaming and pretty much anything that requires internet access. That’s especially true if you’re on a limited data plan. Kinda counter productive from Microsoft’s best OS since Windows XP.    

With the Windows 10 version 1709, Microsoft decided that it is for our best to control how the feature works. Limiting the Windows 10 Automatic Update bandwidth usage is now an easy task; requiring you to push a few buttons and work with a slider. On this small guide, we will show you how to limit the bandwidth usage of the Windows Update together with other options worth checking out along the way. Skip to Step 4 if you only wish to limit the bandwidth and nothing else.

STEP 1: Open up the Windows Settings Menu

First up, open the Windows Settings menu via the taskbar’s notification button. It should be the button with a cog icon. You could also type the word “settings” on the search bar to access it. It is also accessible via the Windows start menu by pressing the cog button next to the power button.

Once inside, locate the Update & Security sub menu. You may also change the Active hours on this area while you’re at it. Basically, you’d want to pick a range of time here where you are actively using the computer. It should prevent Windows Update from restarting your PC during those times. Additionally, the Restart options lets you pick a convenient time to restart the PC whenever an update requires it.

We’re not there yet. Click the Advanced options sub menu to advance.

STEP 2: Windows Settings > Windows Update > Advanced Options

The Advanced options is where you could tinker with Windows Update’s delivery methods. Here, you could check or uncheck if you want to update your other Microsoft products as well, bypassing the software’s own update system if there are any.

The Targeted deployment drop menu is also situated here. This is basically an option to trigger a particular update model introduced by Microsoft. There are two options here:

  • Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) – Known back then as Current Branch and is also the default. On this model, your PC will download major software updates on a 6-month basis. You get the updates once they are ready for consumer deployment.
  • Semi-Annual Channel – Known as Current Branch for Business. Choose this if you want major software updates to be delivered only when they are ready for organizations and businesses. Choose this to defer major updates that are otherwise ready for consumers but requires more testing on the business side of things. This is my preferred target deployment.

Feature updates and Quality updates could be delayed as well. Feature updates could be deferred by as much as 365 days while Quality updates could be deferred to as much as 10 days. You may also pause updates from being installed on this menu. We’re not there yet, so click the Delivery Optimization sub menu to advance.

STEP 3: Windows Settings > Windows Update > Advanced Options > Delivery Optimization

The Delivery Optimization is where our setting is located at but let’s stay here for a while. This is where the Allow downloads from other PCs is located. A feature to allow your system to download and upload updates to and from others. You may toggle this feature off and there are two options to choose from if you wish to enable it.

  • PCs on my local network – Allows your PC to download and upload updates for other Windows 10 systems on your network. An excellent feature to keep your Windows devices up to date without hogging up the Internet connection’s bandwidth.
  • PCs on my local network, and PCs on the Internet – Allows your PC to download and upload updates for other Windows 10 systems on your network plus on the Internet. It is best to turn this feature off if you do not plan to play as the good samaritan.

Click the Advanced options to finally limit the download and upload bandwidth.

STEP 4: Windows Settings > Windows Update > Advanced Options > Delivery Optimization > Advanced Options

Finally, we are now on our desired menu. The bandwidth usage sliders here basically pertains for both download and upload, as well as setting up a quota for the upload limit. These options are disabled on my current Windows 10 installation after upgrading to the version 1709. Most systems I touched also had these disabled by default. That said, it is recommended to check this out yourself and halt Window Update’s total control over your connection for good.

  • Download settings limit – Allows you to set a desired amount of bandwidth limit that Windows 10 will use for OS and other Microsoft product updates. That includes quality, feature updates and the downloads from the Microsoft Store. I have a 10MBps downlink plan and setting up a 50% bandwidth usage gives up 5MBps for the updates. Enough to download most of them within an hour or two without sacrificing latency and bandwidth requirements for my other apps and devices.
  • Upload settings limit – Allows you to set a desired amount of bandwidth limit that Windows 10 will use for OS updates. If you do not plan on seeding out updates for other PCs, best turn this all the way down (5% minimum) but tick the box just in case.
  • Monthly upload limit –  Allows you to set a desired amount of data usage limit when you allow to upload updates for other PCs as well. When the threshold is reached, your PC will stop uploading updates for other Windows 10 devices.

The changes you made here are automatically applied but it is still best to restart the system and recheck if everything works in order.

Optional: Disable Windows Updates

Now this is something I do not recommend but if you really want to fully disable the feature, you may use the Windows Service app to do so. To access the Windows Service, you may enter “service” on the search bar or type in “services.msc” on the Run box (Win + R).

Once opened, look for the Windows Update service and open it up. Click the drop down menu, choose disabled and then click apply. Again, this will disable Windows Updates indefinitely. Proceed at your own risk.

Optional: Disable Microsoft Store Updates

This is another optional task to do if you really want to free some bandwidth. I do not recommend this, since most Windows Store items are pretty useful. That includes the built-in extensions and quality of life applications that requires updates for security and fixes. To disable automatic Microsoft Store updates, open it up, press more (button with 3 dots) and click Settings.

Once inside, toggle the Update apps automatically switch. You may also disable Video Autoplay here if the store’s feature bothers you. Close the store and open it up once again to check if the settings you set applied without a fuss.

That covers up our tutorial on how to limit the Windows 10 Automatic Update bandwidth usage.