Windows Metered Connection: The Money-Saving Tool to Know

Sometimes when I want to boost my productivity, I’ll change my location. With the nice weather, I decided to grab my laptop and head outdoors. Everything was fine until I got a pop-up message from my internet service provider. It turns out I blew past my data plan’s allocation. I could’ve prevented this if I thought about two factors – Windows metered connection and a Windows update.

Automatic Windows Software Updates

For the most part, I do software updates shortly after the release. It depends on the software because some companies are much better at testing. But, what got me this time was Microsoft Windows 10. However, I’m not as disciplined with my laptop since I don’t use it daily.

In my scenario, I was using a hotspot router and I bought a set amount of data. In normal circumstances, this would’ve been fine for my needs. However, the Microsoft Windows update came through and consumed all my bandwidth. My guess was the download might have started in the background before I left the house, and I didn’t realize it. And, the laptop wasn’t fully powered off, but in hibernate mode.

What is a Metered Connection?

A metered connection in Microsoft Windows is an optional setting that is useful where you have a data allocation. For example, your Internet or cell carrier provides a set number of gigabytes per month. If you go over your allotment, you pay or could experience bandwidth throttling.

Any network connection can be set to “metered” protecting you from high data usage. When this Metered Connection setting is turned on, certain online activities won’t occur or will be limited. For example, you’ll still get priority updates, but maybe your offline files won’t sync.

Windows does have default settings based on the connection type. It typically has cellular connections set as a non-metered connection. Ethernet connections or Wi-Fi connections can be set to metered, but aren’t as default.

How to Set Metered Connection in Microsoft Windows

The procedure for setting the connection is almost the same between Windows 10 and Windows 11. For the most part, I’m showing images from Windows 10.

  1. Press your Windows key + I key. This will open your Windows Settings page.
  1. In the textbox at the top, start typing wi-fi.
Windows settings panel with Wi-Fi settings selected.
Searching Windows Settings for Wi-Fi
  1. Click the Wi-Fi settings option from the list.
  2. Under the Wi-Fi section, click Manage known networks. This should be a blue link in the center section.
menu showing manage known networks.
  1. Select the Wi-Fi network you’d like to meter. You should see a Properties button once you click.
Properites button showing for network.
  1. Click the Properties button.
  2. Scroll down to the Metered connection section.
Metered connection for Windows 10.
  1. Toggle the Set as metered connection to On.

The toggle will turn blue.

In Windows 11, the Properties panel is different, but the option is still there.

Metered connection option in Windows 11.

Advanced Windows Updates Option

After this incident, I found an advanced option relating to Windows updates and metered connections. In fact, Microsoft clearly indicates that extra charges may apply. This area is where you can change Window updates. There is a section called Pause updates that allows you to select a specific date. It’s underneath these toggle switches.

Advanced Options panel with toggle for metered connections.
  1. Press your Windows key + I
  2. In the Windows Settings textbox, type “advanced.”
  3. From the drop-down menu, click Advanced Windows Update options.
  4. Toggle Download updates over metered connections to Off.

Windows 11 also has this advanced option.

Windows 11 advanced option for updates over metered connection.

The next time around, I want to change work locations; I’ll be sure to fully power off my laptop, pause Microsoft Windows updates, and have my wireless network connection set properly. This mistake was rather costly in time and dollars. And it put me in a less productive mood.