What are metered connections in Windows 10, how to enable them and why

You may have heard the term metered connections, and while their name is rather self-explanatory, many people do not know exactly how they work. Especially not when it comes to using such connections on computers and devices with Windows 10. To help you, we will explain what metered connections are in general, what kind of connections can be set as metered in Windows 10, what happens when you set them that way and how to set both wireless and wired network connections as metered. There’s plenty of ground to cover, so let’s get started:

What is a metered connection?

A metered connection is a network connection where you have limited data usage per month or per day. If you go over your allotted amount, you may get billed extra charges. This service was initially offered on landline phones. In the modern day, metered connections are mostly used when referring to smartphones and mobile devices that have a cellular connection from a telecom provider. Most telecom providers offer monthly data plans of several gigabytes and, when the limit is exceeded, the user is automatically charged a tariff per megabyte. The same concept can be applied to other devices too, including tablets (with Windows or other operating systems), hybrid devices and more.

Also, wireless network connections can be metered, especially public WiFi networks that enforce all kinds of limits, including a maximum data usage per day or per month. Sometimes, even wired (Ethernet) internet connections can be metered.

What kind of connections can be set as metered, in Windows 10?

In Windows 10, you can set all sorts of network connections as metered, not only cellular ones. For example, in the initial version of Windows 10, you could set wireless network connections as metered. With the release of Windows 10 Creators Update, in spring of 2017, you can also set Ethernet connections as metered.

What happens in Windows 10, when a network connection is set as metered?

When your active network connection is configured as metered in Windows 10, the following things happen:

  • Windows Update only downloads priority updates, like critical security patches. Other updates are not automatically downloaded. Instead, you get a Download button which you can use when you want to install updates.
  • Apps from the Windows Store are no longer automatically updated. However, desktop apps act as normal and will get updated based on their individual settings.
  • App tiles on the Start Menu may not update themselves automatically. The Windows Store apps that have live tiles on the Start Menu will not update themselves while connected to a metered connection.
  • The peer-to-peer download of Windows updates is disabled. As long as you are connected to a metered network, Windows 10 will stop delivering updates in the background, through peer-to-peer connections. This feature is also called Windows Update Delivery Optimization, which gets turned off when using metered connections.
  • Apps from the Windows Store may behave differently. Depending on the apps that you are using, some may stop downloading data in the background or update their data less often. This behavior will vary from app to app depending on how it was programmed. This does not apply to desktop apps which should work as normal.

How to set a wireless network connection as metered, in Windows 10

If you have connected to a wireless network that is metered or you want to set as metered, open the Settings app. Then, click or tap Network & Internet and go to Wi-Fi.

In the Wi-Fi section, you’ll see the active wireless network connection. Click or tap on its name.

NOTE: At this step, if you are not connected to a wireless network, you can’t go ahead until you are connected to one.

Then, you see a summary of all the settings and properties of the wireless network that you are connected to. Look for the Metered connection section.

Set the “Set as metered connection” switch to On.

As soon as you do this, you receive a notification saying that “This PC is on a metered network. Pause OneDrive to reduce network charges". If you are using OneDrive to sync your files, then you should follow this recommendation.

Later, if you want to no longer set this wireless network connection as metered, follow the same procedure and turn the “Set as metered connection” switch to Off.

How to set a wired network connection as metered, in Windows 10

NOTE: This feature is available only if you are using Windows 10 Creators Update or higher. Earlier versions of Windows 10 do not offer it.

If you have connected to an Ethernet connection that is metered or you want to set as metered, open the Settings app. Then, click or tap Network & Internet and go to Ethernet. Then, in the section with the same name, click or tap on the connection’s name.

You see a summary of all the settings and properties of the network that you are connected to. Look for the Metered connection section. Set the “Set as metered connection” switch to On.

As soon as you do this, you will receive a notification saying that “This PC is on a metered network. Pause OneDrive to reduce network charges". If you are using OneDrive to sync your files, you may want to follow this recommendation. Later, if you want to no longer set this Ethernet network connection as metered, follow the same procedure and turn the “Set as metered connection” switch to Off.

Do you use metered connections on your Windows 10 computers and devices?

Now that you have arrived at the end of this guide let us know whether you use metered network connections in Windows 10. What kind of limitations are imposed on you and how easy it is for you to work with such connections in Windows 10?